Devon self catering cottage, England

“Get away from it all in 21 acres of Devon farmland as you book into a stone-built self-catering cottage and relax into rural life without a care in the world.”

Highlights

Charming country cottage | kids free to roam in 21 acres of farmland | star-gazing, bat, owl and badger spotting | excellent local pubs | free bike borrowing or e-bike rental | guided nature trails or self-guided walking maps | lots of ideas for things to do by bike or car |

Description of Devon self catering cottage, England

Otter Cottage is a cosy two bedroom stone-built farm cottage in the heart of Devon. It is set in 21 acres of land, all of which are managed for wildlife and your relaxation. This is where you get to hear the hoot of owls and watch kestrels scanning fields for prey, directly from your bedroom window.

The owners are always delighted to take you on a guided nature walk and have an extensive list of ideas for local days out ranging from RHS Rosemoor to coastal hikes and biking trails. Opportunities to unwind in the evening next to a wood burning stove or in one of our excellent local pubs are always something to savour.

Otter cottage is open all year round and ideal for guests wanting to re-connect with the countryside. The farm won England’s top award for sustainable tourism in 2012 and again in 2015 and has previously held Gold level awards from the Green Tourism Business Scheme and from the Devon Wildlife Trust.

Low Carbon:
100% renewable energy (on site wind and PV, plus green grid) and accommodation designed for efficiency. Assistance for car free guests. Anyone can borrow bikes. Free charging for electric vehicles. Some lodges have hot tubs (also powered with renewable energy).
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Devon self catering cottage, England

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Energy
Otter cottage gets all its power from renewable sources - mostly from the farm's grid-connected wind turbine and solar panels and from a green grid provider as back up. The cottage itself uses about 50% of the average UK household per night power consumption thanks to solar hot water (and immersion back up!), good insulation and the woodburner (buring our own local firewood). You can even recharge your electric car here.

Transport
We will collect and return you to the bus or train station if you arrive at our Devon self catering accommodation without a car. We cycle ourselves, and have a fleet of reclaimed ‘farm bikes’ for you to borrow free of charge. (or we'll help you hire electric bikes). We encourage car-free, walking and cycling holidays by offering itinerary suggestions, time tables and our local knowledge.

Environment

Protecting and enhancing Devon's wildlife is the core mission at Otter Cottage, and you'll see the evidence of this from your windows. Since your stay is what finances our conservation work, we offer guests a free guided nature walk that explains how we manage the farm.

Suppliers
From the cleaning materials to the butter in your welcome scones and even the bank we use, we take great care that your holiday is green to the core. Every business decision takes account of sustainability, considering the impacts here in Devon but also 'up and down stream': impacts on the climate, on pollution and waste, and on sustainable communities.

Community

Friends and Neighbours
We know that Devon is about more than just beautiful countryside to visit. It's about community too, and we always look for ways to boost local involvement. For example, when we gave our largest pond over to wildlife we gave the fish away to a local community angling club (with help from the Environment Agency). Fishing is now in the small pond!
We promote other local businesses, and local things to do. When you shop in the village, eat at the pub, or order food from Fiona’s farm shop up the road, you’re helping the local economy. The cottage was built as holiday lets and there's no planning permission for year-round occupation. So staying at our farm boosts North Devon's economy without taking accommodation away from local people.And if we don’t have availability for you we’ll try to recommend someone near Winkleigh who does.

Campaigning for Change
Maggie was been an elected Parish Councillor for Winkleigh and takes a strong interest in community sustainability issues. She is a member of the Devon Countryside Access Forum (2017-2020). Ian has 25 years experience in sustainable tourism and did a stint as a director of the the Devon Environmental Business Initiative. He currently volunteers for the Crediton Repair Café, and is active in local 'greening networks'.

13 Reviews of Devon self catering cottage, England

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Reviewed on 29 Oct 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Being shown the stars and milky way on a crystal clear night!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


It's a wonderful place to relax and get away from it all. Lots of things for kids to do and a lovely "home away from home" setting.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes absolutely. Everything has a homemade element to it and makes it feel very special. You're encouraged to reduce your waste and even go car free by borrowing bikes etc.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Absolutely perfect! Yes

Reviewed on 22 Mar 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Hearing about the owner's attempts to live life more sustainably

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


There will be a teapot in the lodges!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


definitely reduced environmental impacts and also supported conversation about how to live more sustainably

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very good. given the time of year and consequent weather, we had a relaxing time, and will look forward to having the chance to go again later in the
spring/summer

Read the operator's response here:

Thanks for your review - and thanks for choosing to stay with us - every visitor here contributes to the project we are undertaking to improve the habitat on the farm for local wildlife and flora. It was a bit damp - May and June are wonderful here with the wildflowers out and birdlife in full chorus. Thanks again, and we hope to see you again someday.

Reviewed on 09 Apr 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Stargazing with my son and spotting returning swallows for the first time
this year.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Worth taking own provisions or shopping on the way as supermarkets not close - it wasn't a problem for us and we visited Fiona's farm shop just up the road for
milk & veg'.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Ian & Maggie are achieving all three. The wildlife is rich and the area beautiful.
We were very happy to support their endeavours.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


We had a great week. Truly relaxing, very peaceful - we haven't slept so well in a
very long time - great to slow down and soak up the beautiful countryside. Ian
made us feel very welcome and the homemade cake was delicious - thanks Ian.

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Sue - thanks for the great review and delighted that you had a good unwind here. And
a really big thanks for spotting the first swallows of the season, always a good moment.
Our big project is the work on the land to make the whole farm as nature friendly and
diverse as the nature reserve, and it is you and all our visitors who make that
possible. Thanks for coming and we hope to welcome you again sometime. Ian & Maggie

Reviewed on 12 Sep 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Spending time here is a great opportunity to reconnect with nature and discover this beautiful part of Devon. The farm is located in a peaceful, rural setting yet has plenty of scope for activities nearby (or indeed on its own 21 acres). It offers a precious chance to relax and unwind - with no noise or light pollution, you will sleep like a baby! - and is the perfect antidote to city living.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I stayed in Otter Cottage, which was clean, warm, and well-equipped. You might wish to bring a few basics to get you started, but otherwise there are many opportunities to support the excellent local food shops, and good farm shop just minutes away (best eggs ever!). The view from the cottage's main bedroom out over the pond, with Dartmoor in the distance, is stunning.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Maggie and Ian are genuinely committed to minimal environmental impact tourism, and it shows everywhere you look - from the reconditioned bikes for free local use, the extensive recycling facilities, the farm's energy policy and use of sustainable building materials, to the judicious management of their Popehouse Moor nature reserve and the clutch of awards they consistently bring home. They are welcoming, enthusiastic, and full of ideas for great days out and activities in the local area. I travelled to Devon without a car, and had a great time exploring 'Tarka the Otter' country by bike, bus and on foot - perfectly do-able.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The highlight for me was several sightings of a beautiful kingfisher by the river (plus the stargazing, the owls, the fresh air...)

Reviewed on 14 Apr 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It was all lovely and relaxing. Borrowing the bikes and cycling around the countryside was great fun!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


One evening we had dinner at a wonderful local pub called the Duke of York - highly recommended.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes definitely. They made it really easy to recycle most waste and they have wind and solar generated energy. It's a very rural area so most of the eating, shopping and sightseeing we did supported small local businesses.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very good. Great for families and for getting away from it all.

Read the operator's response here:

Hello Bronwen
Delighted you had a great time here. It was lovely to meet you and I love it when
guests make use of the bikes and 'keep it local'. What better destination than
the Duke of York! Sorry to have missed you when you left - I was in last minute
panics getting the new Balebarn Lodge ready for it's very first arrivals. Hope to
see you again.
Ian

Reviewed on 26 Mar 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Relaxing in a peaceful setting with buckets of very fresh air.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Walking shoes and map to explore lots of good walks. Plenty of hills and views and if the weather is wet and windy the Tarka trail is good and mainly sheltered.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, we hope so.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very good.

Read the operator's response here:

Hello Wendy & Bob

It was lovely to have you back here again and great to read that you had a great holiday. We had the first swallows back yesterday, so it really does feel like we are getting into summer again. We do keep a stock of local OS maps here for anyone wishing to explore, and have even created some interesting art from local OS maps for the new Balebarn eco-lodge which is now open.

We really do appreciate your staying with us as it is the income from guests that allows us to maintain the land here for wildlife and preserve this little corner of Devon as best we can.
We look forward to seeing you here again one day.
Ian

Reviewed on 30 Sep 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The peaceful comfortable cottage and surrounding green and fertile countryside.
with a good variety of walks and small market towns nearby.
Our first holiday with the dog who soon felt very much at home.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Wear good waterproof shoes.Go to Hatherleigh market on Tuesdays for good local produce.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. We were able to use local shops and producers almost all of the time.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent.

Reviewed on 23 Oct 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Bike riding part of the Tarka trail and the Granite way, great fun!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Consider going slightly out of season, it was nice a quiet and not crowded everywhere. Don't leave it to the last minute to find somewhere to eat / get petrol though!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, there is a wildlife reserve where we stayed.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Nice and relaxing.

Reviewed on 27 Sep 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Lovely long walks, yummy homemade scones on arrival.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Bring books to read.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Perfect for what we were after - a relaxed, no frills, eco break.

Reviewed on 27 Feb 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Meeting Ian and appreciating his eco development and ideas. Watching the sun come up over the nature reserve! Maggie's wonderful homemade scones.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


We had large dogs so the enclosed garden was not serviceable for us - low fence and unfortunately no access from the rear of the cottage into the garden. We stayed in winter so needed a torch - no light pollution outside - lovely!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Ian & Maggie have tried very hard to reduce the impact on every aspect on the environment from visitors. We visited the local farm shop to buy supplies for our stay and spent our evenings visiting the village and eating good local food.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Would recommend it for people concerned about their impact on the environment and looking for peace and quiet with a very interesting host! Look out for the newly renovated eco barn conversion (in the process of being finished) over looking the nature reserve - should be fab!

Read the operator's response here:

Thanks for taking the time to comment Ghislaine and glad you had a good time. And, on behalf of the local community, thanks for shopping locally. It makes a real difference to businesses and on a short stay it would be so easy just to come with supermarket supplies.

I suppose because we know Muttley won't leave the farm we haven't really thought about constraining larger dogs outside. Probably the lodges would be better there - the small ones have enclosed verandas and the bigger one we supply a mesh gate where needed. We'll try to remember to bear that in mind when advising people what to book - thanks for pointing it out.

Reviewed on 18 Feb 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The lovely setting, sun rising over the lakes.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take slippers as the stone floors are very cold.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes recycling and alternative energy supply with wind turbine. I did buy some milk and goats cheese at the local shop.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very enjoyable.

Reviewed on 16 May 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It was lovely to be greeted with a fresh plate of scones and vase of fresh flowers in the property.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


This review is for the accomodation only as the holiday itself was independent of the holiday operator.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Not enough perhaps. We found it difficult (impossible) to purchase any supplies from the local Farm Store as it opened after we had gone out for the day and closes early, before we were back. Had to resort to Tescos for our groceries, which is not what we'd hoped. Really have to rely on a car for travel in this rural place if you want any control of your schedule. Overall, the place is certainly making big efforts to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle. The addition of a new wind-turbine will help this goal.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very good holiday in a beautiful place. The accommodation is centrally situated for many convenient day trips, even into Somerset and Cornwall. Friendly and relaxing stay guaranteed.


Read the operator's response here:

Hello Emma,

Glad to hear you had a good holiday and thanks for your review. Really sorry to hear you found it hard to get to the farm shop. Arriving on Easter Sunday and leaving the Sunday after the Royal Wedding bank holiday meant you had an unfortunate number of ‘closed’ days during your stay! And yes, the farm shop does close fairly early (4:30 I think) even on working days as it is only a small part of their farm routines. The pace of life in rural communities can be frustrating when you are used to more metropolitan services.

To other visitors reading this I’d say bear Emma’s comments in mind, and if you’re keen to buy local remember you have the farm shop phone number in your pre-arrival and arrival info, and they will take a phone order and deliver free of charge. We’ll accept it for you if you’re out. We also usually have a small stock of their pies etc in an on-site freezer. And do please ask if something’s not what you expected. If you’re unfamiliar with an area you’re likely to feel your choice is restricted to Tesco, but local knowledge will usually offer alternatives – we could have recommended closer more locally-owned shops than Tesco, even if not a farm shop, almost any day of the year.

Finally, you’re quite right about cars Emma – a car gives you flexibility and freedom, especially if you want to explore further afield. Almost all our guests still come by car. But for those few reading this who are considering car free, please check out our ‘pros and cons of car free’ on our website, where you’ll also find a week long suggested itinerary featuring day trips using the 315 bus route through the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Maggie & Ian

PS Thanks for your patience with preparations for the wind turbine over the Easter period – it’s up and turning now, making our power local as well as green!

Reviewed on 26 Jun 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The peace and tranquility of the farm.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


If you want to take dogs they are warmly welcomed here however, there are no walks within walking distance so if your dogs need proper walks then you will have to drive a fair way. The garden area is south facing with no shade so sun worshippers will love it. Take insect repellant.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


It minimised impact on environment as Ian and Maggie have visitors recycle all waste, the hot water is supplied from solar panels. However, as there are no dog walking areas locally we had to drive every day so that outweighed the benefits I believe. I suppose it could benefit local people in a much as there is a farm shop up the road but we were not impressed by the quality of the eggs especially as they were from the farm itself.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A warm welcome and warm scones with blackberry jam was provided by Maggie, the cottage is nice and cool and a great place to get away and do nothing. If we returned we wouldn't take the dogs so that we could just relax.

Read the operator's response here:

Hello Debbie,
I’m glad you had a relaxing holiday. And now you come to mention the sun, (if that’s not tempting fate for a British summer!) I think we’ll get a parasol for the garden table in Otter – thanks for the feedback. I’m really sorry if you didn’t find enough information about dog walks. From your review I wasn’t sure whether you wanted to walk ‘from the door’ without driving at all. If so, it’s a fair point - you’ll be on the lanes for a mile and a half down into Hollocombe before you hit its many footpaths and bridle ways. And I have to confess I usually take the car – mostly to avoid the climb back up. But I’m concerned that it wasn’t that, and that somehow we didn’t get across those and the other opportunities nearby (Winkleigh Wood, Hollocombe Moor, Heywood Wood, Flashdown plantation are all within 3 miles by road and are ‘open access’ and we also put leaflets about walks around Winkleigh village in the accommodation – maybe it was missing). If so, please accept our apologies. Dog owners make up a big proportion of our guests and we want you to have a good holiday. Our webpages usually feature a monthly ‘Muttley’s choice’ walk, with notes (and a google map). I’ll make a point of checking we’ve got the really local ones covered. I imagine those 2 dogs of yours can eat up the miles though, so maybe we should also be developing route notes for longer half- or full-day walks that are still local.

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