We needed a place near Dartmoor, Staverton and Totnes for a short visit to take my aged mother, who has Alzheimer's and lives in care home near us in Norfolk, around her childhood haunts in Devon. After some trawling around on the 'net I came across a local services directory centred on Ashburton - www.ashburton.org. My father was born in Ashburton and I know it a little from previous holidays in Devon, so was confident that any B&B listed nearby would probably be ok. As we only wanted a couple of nights and at pretty short notice, it took a few calls and emails before we found one that looked right and had availability. That was Hunters Reach. Owner Georgina Mackie was very accommodating, helpful and friendly and promised tea and scones on arrival. We were also able to pay our deposit by internet banking, which made things easier.
Summer 2011 was very poor, so our hopes of fine weather weren't high, but after a seven hour drive from Norfolk, we arrived at Holne to be ushered into a sunny garden by Georgina, who promptly returned with the promised tea and scones with home-made jam - most welcome, absolutely delicious and miles better, I'm sorry to say, than some cobblestone-sized horrors we suffered at the Ann of Cleeves teashop in Totnes the next day. We strolled around the pretty, compact garden with Georgina as guide. Views over either hedge were of a hayfield - just being mown as we watched - and an orchard with sheep. Enchanting and very English - very Devon.
Hunters Reach is a fairly modern house but decorated with great taste and the bedrooms were spotless and comfortable. My wife raved about all the cushions scattered around and there was plenty of storage space for clothes, including lovely old pine chests of drawers. Even complimentary towelling dressing gowns were provided, although we had brought our own. Our room was adjacent to the room we had booked for my mother, so we all knew we weren't far away from each other, but ours had the views up to Dartmoor, which were spectacular. Vast and superbly comfortable bed in our room and a standard double in my mother's room. We all slept very well - no traffic noise and wonderfully dark skies without streetlights.
We were to share a bathroom, in between the two rooms, but that was no hardship and it was clean and fresh with some complimentary toiletries if I remember correctly. The shower was electric but water flow and temperature were fine.
There was also a small and comfortable-looking sitting room, just off the dining room, where guests could sit, although there were also easy chairs in the bedrooms - well, in ours at least as it was larger. As we were only there for two nights and had to be out on our mission all day we didn't really get much chance to use it.
On our first evening we decamped to the quaint Church House Inn www.churchhouseinndartmoor.co.uk in the village for a very enjoyable and convivial supper - see my separate review - and returned to Hunters Reach full, tired but happy. In fact we enjoyed the pub so much that once my mother was settled, with Georgina's kind agreement, we sneaked off back to the pub and stayed there drinking and chatting to locals, landlord and landlady until closing time. Unfortunately when we returned to Hunters Reach, Georgina reported that my mother had emerged from her room earlier and was confused, but Georgina took this in her stride, calmed her down, reassure her that all was well and returned her to her room before we got back. How many B&B owners would do that? Obviously we were apologetic and agreed it would be safer and wiser not to repeat the experience, but at least there was no mountain made out of a molehill and for that we have to thank Georgina for her forbearance. It's not easy taking an Alzheimer's sufferer away somewhere, so a little respite is always appreciated.
Breakfast was just as ordered - excellent selection of cereals, fruit, yoghurts, toast, homemade or local preserves and the ubiquitous full English fry up, which was light and delicious. I asked for some HP sauce (my wife prefers ketchup), which wasn't available, but Georgina found some Branston Rich and Fruity sauce instead, to which I was instantly converted. Always been disappointed with HP ever since it was acquired by Danone and production was shifted to Spain. Doesn't have the same taste or texture anymore - and presumably British jobs were lost in the process. Is nothing sacred?
Georgina lent us the local 1:50,000 OS map so we could find our way around the area and off we went.
Two hectic days but mission accomplished and in fact despite all the driving we quite enjoyed ourselves and that is due in no small part to the wonderful B&B owned and run by Georgina Mackie. It was raining the morning we left and the cloud was down on the moor as we looked across from our bedroom window, but our spirits remained undampened. Thanks Georgina. If we can engineer a reason to return, we will certainly be back.
- Also Known As:
- Hunter's Reach Holne, Dartmoor National Park