Two legs or four, it doesn’t matter! If you’ve spent most of this year staring at the same four walls for an inordinate amount of time then now’s the time to plan a North Devon Autumn break. One of the more off the beaten track coastlines in England, it is fantastic walking country.
While July and August are for beaches, crowds and all the trappings of a summer holiday, it is the Autumn months of September and October which often provide richer pickings for those looking to enjoy the best of the region’s scenery on foot.
As an Autumn break destination, North Devon ticks many boxes, especially during current times, and The Carlton in Ilfracombe provides the ideal sanctuary for an escape from the city. Buffeted by fresh Atlantic breezes and surrounded by miles of open beach and countryside space, the hotel is offering a special three day/two night North Devon Autumn break deal and an exclusive dog-friendly Autumn break deal.
Of course, any holiday booking needs to be considered in relation to the Covid situation and The Carlton is ever ready to answer any questions or concerns potential guests may have. The hotel’s team was quick to respond to the challenges and has implemented a fully integrated plan that seeks the safety of guests while not compromising on the quality of service (more information about this can be found in a recent blog article).
5 Great Walks For North Devon Autumn Breaks
A paradise for casual strollers, dog walkers and serious hikers, there is a walk-in North Devon suitable for all levels of fitness. Lace-up those sturdy shoes, forget your worries and hit the trail with 5 great walks to take during a North Devon Autumn break, as recommended by The Carlton.
1) Southwest Coast Path: Ilfracombe – Lee Bay
Time: 1-2 hours
Straight from the door of the Carlton Hotel to the beautiful little village of Lee, this stretch of the coast path takes approximately 2 hours there and back. The rewards are rolling countryside and clifftop views along the way and the beach of Lee Bay sits in a sheltered cove. There are options to extend the walk and make it circular by linking up with the old railway line.
2) Woolacombe – Putsborough Beach
Time: 1 – 1.5 hours
This walk is all beach, but what a beach! Regularly featuring in the top ten of best beaches of the world, let alone the UK, Woolacombe is a big open beach with acres of bare sand, so popular with dog walkers. Out of holiday season and during the week, seagulls are often more numerous than other walkers. A big favourite with dogs – pack a blanket for that back seat on the return journey as they tend to bring half the beach away with them!
3) Combe Martin – Great Hangman Hill
Time – 3-4 hours
Close to Ilfracombe is the village of Combe Martin, the start of a walk that scales a series of peaks which reward with ‘top of the world’ views over the rugged North Devon coastline. A circular walk provides a nice diversity of scenery, following the Southwest coast path upwards to cliff top heights before cutting back inland and following country lanes which wind back down to the village.
4) Exmoor: Doone Valley
Time 5 -6 hours
Walking is the best way to discover the delights of Exmoor, North Devon’s expansive area of the national park. If Autumn breaks for you mean true peace and tranquillity then you will find it in an amazing National Trust circular walk which takes in the breathtaking beauty of the Doone Valley (named after the family in the classic tale of Lorna Doone). While meandering through wooded valleys with the soothing sound of river’s flow in your ears there are plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife, including birds of prey, deer and the area’s famous Exmoor ponies. Most walking is on footpaths and so dog friendly, although attention should be made to signs denoting the presence of livestock.
5) Saunton and Braunton Burrows
Level: Easy – Medium
Time 1 – 2 hours
Saunton Sands is another wide-open beach known for being dog friendly. Behind it are the dunes of Braunton Burrows, a UNESCO biosphere reserve renowned for its varied plant life and otherworldly landscape. Saunton is the best start point for those looking for easy walking, with quick beach access and the opportunity to dip inland to experience the sand dune system. Crow Point and Sandy Lane car parks are both starting points for circular walks, more details of which can be found in the Braunton Burrows guide.
As every walker knows, a day of pounding the path is more than likely followed by an evening of immense appetite and a desire to fall into a soft bed at the end of the night! What great news then to discover that The Carlton is best equipped to satisfy these needs with its fresh, local food menus and stylish modern rooms that emphasise guest comfort. For more information and booking inquiries, contact the Carlton on or 01271 862446.
As part of the Treasury’s Eat Out to Help Out promotion we are offering all diners the opportunity to halve their food bill when they eat in our Brasserie At The Carlton this August. You can save up to a maximum of £10 per customer at breakfast, lunch or dinner when you eat in on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
You can enjoy this benefit as many times as you like in the month of August. The saving will be calculated automatically and applied to your bill, whether you are simply enjoying a coffee and cake or a three-course dinner.
Just look at these incredible prices
- Exmoor Park fillet steak was £25 now £15
- Hand made Scotch egg was £5 now £2.50
- Beer battered haddock & chips was £14.50 now £7.25
- Full English breakfast was £12 no £6
Remember the total maximum saving is £10 per person at any one meal service.
A couple of points to note:
- Please tell us on booking and advise us you’ll be taking part in the discount.
- We require a minimum spend before discount of £12 per person in The Brasserie, but no restrictions in the lounge (for light meals, coffee and cakes).
- The saving is not available on takeaway (or delivery) food and alcoholic drinks.
- You’ll also need to give us your contact details when you eat in as part of the test and trace scheme requirements.
To reserve your table call us on 01271 862446 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
Life is returning to a level of usualness and as usual, Ilfracombe has plenty to offer visitors this summer.
Our regular guests know that there is a hub of activity in and around the harbour. And others know of the many other land-based leisure pursuits. Be it playing on the range, shooting a clay or getting on your wheels. And to relax into the evening our local food and pub scene has re-opened with meals and drinks of choice and quality for everyone.
Let’s start with a brief look at retail opportunities during the day. With a fine selection of galleries open to browse in, a number centred on the seafront and St James Place, with more up Fore Street. Art including contemporary pieces, paintings, sculptures and more, mingle with more traditional crafts and art. The towns galleries are open most days for viewing and purchase of pieces.
Not forgetting the obvious stroll along our pier to visit Verity; why not detour up the hill to St Nicholas Chapel or stop off outside the old lifeboat shed for a quick snack in the Aquarium café?
If you’ve found St James Place then you will have noticed the tea rooms, with three to choose from. Sit back and relax in their outdoor gardens as you decide which way to top off that freshly baked scone. The Landmark theatre is open for food and drink, with plenty of outside seating too. It’s a great little spot near Wildersmouth beach and handy for a socially distanced visit to our Tourist Information Centre, which is bound to have up to the minute ideas and information to make your visit complete.
Focussing on the water-based activities this year there are some new operators in town. Depending on your reason for getting on board you can choose from a cruise around the coast and over to Lundy, or a half-day at sea fishing for figuratively casting your net. With slow boats and fast ribs and even heritage lifeboats at your disposal. Of course, our harbour is a safe haven, you might catch our local gig pilot boat club practising on the water, or the commercial fishing vessels landing today’s catch.
A short walk up the hill away from the seaside will bring you to our eclectic high street. Despite the global woes of the physical retail sector, Ilfracombe boasts a wide range of shops, cafes and services. Mind you don’t miss the snake sanctuary as you catch one of our traditional butchers at work. Artisan crafts shine through, with expert chocolatiers and marmalade purveyors competing for your £s. Only in Ilfracombe of course!
To the seafront once more, where you can enjoy a round of crazy golf, perhaps before you indulge in another Devon Cream tea? And if you are a serious player then you must see the sea from every tee, at Ilfracombe Golf Club. Just five minutes drive from the town centre, visitors are very welcome. For the serious Tiger Woods why not hop over to Saunton or Woolacombe or even the Royal Devon for further rounds of this Scottish pursuit. Yes apparently started up there…
Back to the land, and there’s a choice in clay pigeon shooting grounds. With have goers as welcome as the more competitive club set. An overnight stay is a must to maximise the shooting practice.
Ilfracombe pier is the start of one of the UK’s longest cycle routes, taking full advantage of redundant railway lines for the least onerous inclines. Bikes can be hired from nearby Braunton for your pedal pleasure. Maybe you fancy a bit more powered transport – so the off-road quad bikes, seg ways and even horse riding are available from Mullacott.
North Devon is a natural haven, and within the town of Ilfracombe, there are plenty of opportunities to walk at leisure. A stroll through Bicclescombe Park, with its water wheel, or follow one of the Town Trails for a diversion. Further afield you can drive to Marwell Gardens, a classic retreat for horticulturists. Why not get up close with more exotic nature at Exmoor Zoo, Combe Martin Wildlife Park or enjoy real farmyard tales with regular Sheepdog and Falconry displays at Borough Farm.
The High Street, Fore Street and The Quay have a variety of take-away and dine-in, table service restaurants including specialities in modern cuisine, fish & seafood, traditional pub suppers, fish and chips, pizzas, pasta, Indian, Italian, wine bars and simply bars (or great British pubs as we used to call them).
Further information can be found online at Visit Ilfracombe, or call the people that know on 01271 863001.
Below is a selection of links to some of the operators mentioned above.
To reserve your table call us on 01271 862446 or email email@example.com today.
A BIRD IN HAND
by Frederick Weatherly
There were three young maids of Lee,
They were fair as fair can be,
And they had lovers three times three,
For they were fair as fair can be
These three young maids of Lee.
But these young maids they cannot find
A lover each to suit her mind;
The plain-spoke lad is far too rough,
The rich young lord not rich enough,
And one is too poor and one too tall,
And one just an inch too short for them all.
“Others pick and choose, and why not we?
We can very well wait!” said the maids of Lee.
There were three young maids of Lee,
And they had lovers, three times three,
For they were fair as fair can be,
These three young maids of Lee.
There are three old maids at Lee,
They are old as old can be,
And one is deaf and one cannot see,
And they all are cross as a gallows tree,
These three old maids of Lee.
Now if anyone chanced, ’tis a chance remote,
One single charm in these maids to note
He need not a poet, nor handsome be,
For one is deaf, and one cannot see
He need not woo on his bended knee
For they all are willing as willing can be
He may take the one, or the two, or the three
If he’ll only take them away from Lee!
There are three old maids at Lee
They are cross as cross can be,
And there they are, and there they’ll be,
To the end of the chapter, one two three,
These three old maids at Lee!
The last few weeks have been a testing time for all as we have attempted to come to terms with Covid-19, lockdown and what commentators refer to as the ‘new normal’. While everybody has an opinion regarding the best route out of lockdown, the government has set a road map for the process and it is widely expected that UK hotels will open again sometime in July.
With this in mind, The Carlton is busy preparing for post-lockdown breaks, so that we can open up to receive guests again once the government advises it is safe to do so. As part of this process, our plans involve doing all we can to look after our guests, our team and the local population. As such we are now taking reservations for post-lockdown breaks in July and beyond*.
Our view is that these are extraordinary times and we must not let down our guard but we as a community and a nation, need to adapt to the new reality which could be with us for some time to come. From our, this means doing everything we can to mitigate the risk, while still delivering high standards of service for our guests.
Why Choose The Carlton?
The Carlton, is a big roomy Victorian building, is better placed than many establishments to make changes in how we operate in order to maintain safe and social distancing for post-lockdown breaks. From our spacious welcoming reception lounge and associated public areas, including bar & brasserie space to the features and design of our rooms; tiled bathroom spaces which are easily cleaned and sanitised, along with big windows in every room which allow for the free circulation of deliciously fresh coastal air.
Other measures we have introduced include a custom app allowing for essential information and services such as paperless menus and remote check in. You can read more about our Covid preparedness measures here. In addition, we have our wonderful Carlton team, trained to the highest standards, and with updated Covid training in line with the very latest government guidelines, to ensure the upmost attention to sanitary detail – from thoroughly cleaning rooms and facilities to serving food.
Why Choose North Devon?
If part of your lockdown exit strategy was to get away – when opportunity allowed – and enjoy some quality relaxation time by the coast then North Devon will tick many boxes. With limits on foreign travel there are few places in the UK that offer a ‘not in the UK’ feel like this part of England.
It is a destination that is somewhat off the beaten track so while summer brings crowds, this is one place with enough wide open spaces to be able to escape them. As well as the smaller beaches in the town of Ilfracombe, the nearby beaches of Saunton and Woolacombe offer miles of golden sands for safely social distancing. Then there’s the nearby wide open spaces and quiet footpaths of Exmoor.
Escaping the city for the health benefits of fresh air and taking a dip is what turned Ilfracombe from a fishing village to a seaside resort during Victorian times. Even at the height of summer, this is a town that never feels overly busy, unlike the more commercial coastal resort towns of South Devon for example. So with social distancing in our minds, this is an unspoilt area where crowds can easily be avoided, providing the perfect destination for post-lockdown breaks.
Some regular guests have been in touch regarding media reports highlighting beach issues in the immediate aftermath of lockdown travel measures easing. In true media fashion, the negatives were accentuated and the reality was that it was a couple of days in May that resembled an August Bank Holiday (inevitably). This has improved as the local council has opened up beachside toilet facilities and naturally more seasonal businesses begin to open up again.
Enquiries have also focused on the reaction of locals to visitors coming into the area. While there have understandably been fears that local hospital services would be stretched by an influx of holiday makers, the vast majority of local people appreciate the importance of the tourism industry and are keen to offer a warm welcome to visitors when the coronavirus alert levels lower sufficiently to allow hospitality businesses to open.
As an owner operated hotel, it has been in our interests to upgrade our facilities wherever is necessary to create an optimum environment to fully relax and enjoy North Devon’s wide open spaces and big skies. All that’s missing is you! So come down and see us this summer or autumn and finally get away from it all! Click here to book your stay or contact us for more information. * The Carlton offers real flexibility to cancel your room up to 48 hours prior to arriving, giving you comfort in booking in these unusual times. We’ve always had this policy. T&Cs apply, please check our website. Please refer to our Staying Safe At The Carlton page for updates.
I’m Karen, the therapist at The Carlton. I wanted to write this blog to help people to feel more relaxed and provide some useful self-care tips to keep yourself well and healthy during this time.
During the first part of lockdown, I found myself glued to the news and all forms of media, sometimes not moving much at all during the course of the day. My mind was racing continuously and my body started to feel extremely uncomfortable especially my shoulders where I had been holding tension. I also started to notice my jaw aching and thought I had toothache until I realised the pain was moving from tooth to tooth. Stress can have a huge impact on our bodies as well as our minds so it is vital to find ways which help us and our families to cope.
I decided to start my day differently and this is what I would recommend for yourself and your family. So rather than reaching for your phone first thing and bombarding yourself with the information, I would take a moment just to wake up. This can be done as a type of meditation which you can also talk your children through.
So once you are awake but still lying in bed just take a moment to notice your body. You can start by noticing your breathing coming in and out through your nostrils. Notice your breath flowing to your lungs, feeling your ribs expanding with each in-breath you take. Making the breathes deep, slow and controlled, also become aware of your belly rising towards the ceiling. Taking your time to notice there is a short pause between breathing in and breathing out. Also noticing your body as you breathe out, allowing you belly button to fall towards your spine and your ribs soften. Breathing in deeply and as you slowly release the breath allow your body to soften also.
Repeated deep breaths will naturally bring your heart rate more in sync with your breath. This leads your brain to release endorphins, which are chemicals that have a natural calming effect on your mind and body.
You can do this for a minute, 10 minutes or as long as you feel is good for you. And it can be done at any point during the day. If you notice you are feeling anxious you will also notice your breathing is most probably quite shallow so deepening the breathing and bringing your attention to it will help to keep you calm.
Once you feel ready to move start to slowly stretch out your body, moving in ways which feel good to you. Stretching your left side and right side and slowly coming up to sitting and placing both feet on the floor. Allow your body to fold forward, resting the weight of your torso on your thighs, allowing your head to relax down towards the floor, take a few moments here and continue to notice your breathing. This will allow your lower back and spine the space it needs to stretch out and wake up. Slowly shift your weight onto your feet with your knees bent, taking a moment in a forward fold position before slowly un-curling your spine to a standing position. From here you might like to do some more stretches, moving your spine in different directions, making circles with your wrists, ankles and neck.
Although all the technology we have today can bring anxiety we are also very lucky to have so much information at our fingertips so making use of this will help us to get through, finding information which will benefit our health and wellbeing. Using search engines we can find meditations, exercises, yoga, activities, healthy food tips to keep our immune systems working well and massage techniques we can share with our isolation family.
All of this will help keep our minds and bodies healthy and happy.
This far into the lockdown and we thought we’d update you on the team and what’s happening at The Carlton Hotel. The truth, of course is that everything feels very different to normal! Some of our team are furloughed since we shut our doors around the 23rd March. Sadly, we haven’t been able to furlough all our casual team members (due to cash flow), but we have furloughed all our permanent contract team and anyone else that has been with us for over a year.
Michael calls each team member on a Monday just to check in with them. Without exception, all team members are keen to get back to business and look after our customers in a safe and efficient way.
We know that one or two of our team pass by the hotel* and may dip into our superfast wi-fi. also allowing them to stay in touch online with their family and friends.
*as part of their daily exercise routine, and for clarity social distancing is observed!
We have started our chilled summer deli delivery meals, which sees the kitchen in use for just one day and then we can pack, wrap and despatch the meals on subsequent days. Feedback has been positive and it’s certainly nice to be doing a little something foodwise.
And there’s a fair amount of work going into gardening the grounds, painting the building and general tidy up. The same can be said for our website which is getting a good going over (not the most IT technical term I know) in readiness for the future.
We are also working on our re-opening plans. These are all focussed on what steps the business will take in order to safely operate. Paramount is the safety of our team and guests. So we’re thinking about reduced occupancy levels, in room catering for hotel guests, protection for the team, sanitising stations and lots more.
Clearly, we are hoping this emergency resolves itself soon, and then the new normal can begin. But not until it’s safe to do so.
Wishing you all the best, stay safe, stay home.
Here’s a few snaps of the ladies taken last year. They are raising a glass to the VE Day 75th anniversary celebrations this Friday.
Photographed staff are in order: Dawn Walker | Clare Foreman | Dawn Emery
“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat,” said the author Laura Ingalls Wilder. For anyone over a certain age her most famous work, Little House on the Prairie, which was a stalwart of 1970s TV, epitomises an era of innocent wholesomeness.
At times when the whole world feels challenged we often develop a nostalgia for times gone by, regardless of the fact that each era in history has faced (and always overcome) its own challenges. Unfortunately for today’s generations, the 24 hour lens of media and social media attention and our addiction to hype means that we are permanently consumed by a crisis such as the current Coronavirus scare.
While there is of course good reason to take this virus very seriously indeed the statistics, nonetheless, do not spell the imminent end of the world. Panic in all its forms – from emptying supermarket shelves to rocketing levels of personal anxiety and mental health effects – has us gripped and right now it seems like there is no escape….
But of course life goes on and locking yourself inside your home – until told otherwise – can have implications for your state of mind and your mental health. Now is the time you need a fresh air break and The Carlton has the perfect Spring Break deal to take advantage of!
Fresh Air, Open Skies, Health Benefits
Spring is here, the sun is (at last) beginning to shine. Identified as one of the healthiest places in the UK according to a study last year all around North Devon the air is filling with birdsong – from cliff tops to dunes, woodlands, fields and wide open moorland. The town of Ilfracombe itself came to prominence in the Nineteenth century, discovered by the Victorians to be the perfect tonic to the pollution of cities and the stresses of working life – a perfect antidote that is as true today as it was back then.
Reports suggest that higher temperatures are the natural enemy of Corona Virus, and it’s this time of year when crispy mornings give way to sunny Spring days filled with the increasing intensity of the sun’s warmth. Of course this isn’t always the picture on the English Adventure Coast but a day of being buffeted around in stiff coastal breezes brings a certain charm of its own too – gulps of fresh air, the taste of brine on the lips and cheeks that flush ruddy from a day of open air exercise.
The Carlton offers the perfect base from which to launch a break filled with the kind of outdoor activity which benefits the body and clears the mind of those racing thoughts; a step away from the intensity of home and work places where the stress is constantly simmering. We all know that stress is bad for the health and a recognised factor which can affect our immunity. Often the only way to break the cycle is to step back and get away from it all for a while and reap the health benefits.
One of the consequences of the current situation is that we are all going through a period of reappraisal in relation to our daily habits, routines and social interactions. Many of us are taking a step back and appreciating the benefits of simple pleasures. On a North Devon break that’s a hike along a coastal path or down a long sandy beach, taking the plunge with some surf lessons or rambling along an Exmoor circular walk.
With The Carlton as base camp, the health and wellness aspect extends to the in-house Brasserie restaurant, with its simple wholesome menu dishes offering nutritious goodness thanks to fresh ingredients, most of them sourced with local Devon provenance.
What is The Carlton Doing About Corona Virus?
Of course we follow Government and industry guidelines, but at The Carlton we go further still. To be honest the measures we take are more like tweaks to our existing standard practices. As a hotel with a reputation for high class quality and comfort throughout all our rooms we already have very high standards when it comes to servicing and cleaning (we’re big fans of the old fashioned way – plenty of soap and detergent – with the recent addition of sanitising surfaces and door handles).
The same rigorous attention to sanitation applies to the restaurant – which is open to guests and locals (don’t forget our special Mother’s Day treat package). There is no buffet to worry about, all our dishes are plated up separately, as they always have been, and if our guests still have concerns then we are quite happy to provide meals in the room.
Our team are up to date on training, have been practising good standards for years and recognise the importance of being seen to be confident in the face of the current situation. The benefit of having a full time team all year round ensures continuity throughout any difficult time. You can read full details of our extensive Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines and safety procedures here to give you peace of mind.
As for the health benefits of a fresh air break in North Devon – there’s not much more to be said than the fact that the air is plentiful and is feeling more Spring-like by the day!
Our very special Mothers Day Treat combines a Spring Weekend Break with Mothering Sunday lunch and FREE Devon Cream Afternoon Tea for just £69 /person/night. Plus dinner inclusive (one night) leaving you time to explore the rest of Ilfracombe. This deal is based on two sharing a twin or double room over the weekend of 21/22/23 March. Call 01271 862446 to book this offer or email firstname.lastname@example.org.