Things to do
On the Estate
Take long walks through the grounds, there’s a corridor stocked with Hunter wellies in every size. You’ve a good chance of spotting kingfishers, otters, falcons and even the occasional deer. There are many hidden follies (The Shell House, The Dairy Dell, Swiss Cottage) to so take our map as your guide. An hour’s walk along the River Tamar gets you to Horsebridge, where you can rest your legs and wet your whistles at The Royal Inn. (01822 870214 royalinn.co.uk).
If map reading is not your strong suit, take a tour of the Garden with Head gardener Ben Ruscombe-King. Designed 200 years ago this was one of Humphry Repton’s last commissions and brings together a multitude of landscaping elements for which Repton was renowned. £50 (01822 870000 hotelendsleigh.com/garden)
There’s a ping-pong table, croquet hoops, giant jenga and sun loungers on the lawn below the rose walk.
The Tamar runs through the grounds and the hotel is a member of Endsleigh Fishing Club, with six beats on eight miles of riverbank. Guests can fly fish for sea trout, brown trout and grayling, and enjoy some of the best salmon fishing in England. There’s a ghillie to show the ropes or give you tips (01822 610876 endsleigh-fishing-club.com).
The Hardicott Shoot uses the drives around the edge of the estate. A very good pheasant shoot which provides a good range of bird heights in beautiful surroundings. Richard Street is the shoot manager (07973 769123).
Back at the house the library table groans under the weight of just-baked scones, quenelles of clotted cream and strawberry jam, cakes and finger sandwiches. It’s the highlight of everyday. The wood-panelled drawing room has log fires and a library of books.
Tavistock is about fifteen minutes away from the hotel and is a lovely little market town on the edge of the moors. No.13 Ladies Fashions (01822 618188 no13tavistock.co.uk), Country Cheeses (01822 615035 countrycheeses.co.uk) and the Cornish Arms (01822 612145 thecornisharmstavistock.co.uk) are all worth a visit. The are weekly art and farmers markets are especially good for present shopping.
Fifteen minutes in the other direction is Coombeshead Farm. An idyllic farmhouse close to Launceston. Tom Adams (Pitt Cue London) and April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig New York) run the restaurant together with a strong porcine theme. It wonderfully showcases what can be achieved when farmer, grower and cook work side by side (01566 782 009 coombesheadfarm.co.uk).
Dartmoor National Park is the largest and wildest area of open country in the south of England, with ancient woodland, high granite tors and vast tracts of rolling moorland. Visit in spring to see lambs gambolling and hedgerows full of wild flowers, while summer invites lazy days picnicking and swimming in cool, clear rivers.
The National Trust has several properties within easy reach. Cothele House, Saltram House and Castle Drogo. (nationaltrust.org.uk)
Our favorite walk is Castle Drogo to Fingle Gorge. This two-hour round trip takes you past a dramatic castle and through an oak-lined gorge to an ancient stone bridge and traditional pub..
The hike along the River Teign starts at Castle Drogo, a Lutyens-designed fortress completed in 1930 and the last great castle to be built in England. From here the routes to Fingle Gorge are clearly signed. Walk one way along Hunter’s Path, with views down the river valley, the other along the lower, Fisherman’s Path, which traces the spectacular wooded riverbank where woodpeckers dart between shaded pools, and trout, salmon and otters flourish in the clear water.
The small, rocky beaches are perfect for picnics and – in warmer weather – toe-dipping. Look out for glimpses of Prestonbury Castle Iron Age hill fort on the other side of the valley. At the foot of the gorge are the stone arches of Fingle Bridge, and behind it Fingle Bridge Inn (01647 281 287 finglebridgeinn.co.uk), which serves cream tea and has a pretty terrace overlooking the river. In spring the woods are carpeted with bluebells and daffodils.
If you love horse riding our fancy giving it a go, Liberty Trails (01822 851 463 liberty-trails.com) organise guided horse rides through the stunning locations used by Steven Spielberg during the filming of War Horse. Depending on the time of year, you might also be able to join hill farmers as they muster their cattle across the moor.
Inspired the film ‘We Bought a Zoo’ starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson.
The North Cornish coast is about an hour’s drive and has beautiful beaches and the country’s best seafood restaurants. Rick Stein’s flagship Seafood Restaurant (01841 532700 rickstein.com/the-seafood-restaurant) is renowned for serving up the freshest fish and shellfish, most of which has landed right on the doorstep of the restaurant in Padstow. Make sure you book ahead, but if you do go last-minute, Prawn on the Lawn (01841 532223 prawnonthelawn.com) is a tiled and blackboarded temple to the piscine with charm by the bucket and spadeful. Expect Seared Tuna with soy, mirin, spring onion & chilli and Whole Padstow brown crab.
The Camel Trail is a celebrated cycle trail that is mainly flat and traffic-free. Meander through woodland, explore disused rail stations and stop to take in far-stretching sea views. Padstow to Wadebridge is a popular and manageable route at approximately five miles. The trail helpfully terminates in Padstow at the National Lobster Hatchery (01841 533877 nationallobsterhatchery.co.uk). It’s a marine conservation charity helping to highlight the importance of lobsters. The highlight of the tour is observing the baby lobsters getting ready to be released back into the water, as well as a meeting with the resident giant lobster.
Since its completion way back in 1592, the exquisite Elizabethan manor known as Prideaux Place has been the home to the same family. The short walk from Padstow harbour is more than worth the extra leg work to see a remarkable piece of history, excellently maintained and set in the most glorious of gardens. Open Easter to October (01841 532411 prideauxplace.co.uk).
Considered one of the best family beaches in Cornwall, just west of Padstow.