If you’re looking to explore the essence of the English country garden, then North Devon is a great place to start! A North Devon gardens tour provides variety, contrast and some of the most beautiful surrounding natural scenery England has to offer.
The oceanic climate of the region delivers milder winters than most parts of the UK and all year precipitation which brings a distinctive lushness to the green and rolling hills which characterise this part of the world. Plants and flowers thrive in this part of the world – the parish of Braunton for example is one of the most bio-diverse in the country, with 470 species of flowering plant found on Braunton Burrows (a UNESCO biosphere) and 11 species of orchid alone.
Over the years, cultivators have made the most of this environment, and a North Devon garden tour reveals some real treats for garden aficionados. The Carlton Hotelin Ilfracombe provides a great location to explore the region’s gardens (see below for details of our Gardens of North Devonpackage) Here we choose 5 of the best:
Marwood Hill Gardens
An enchanted private garden that is open to the public, Marwood Hill Gardensare set over a 20 acre site, sequestered within a sheltered valley. Its three lakes, lovely views and peaceful ambience make it a favourite stop on any North Devon gardens tour. Marwood was established in the 950s by passionate gardener, Dr Jimmy Smart VMH, who devoted his life to growing this beautiful garden which boasts an impressive collection of plants – including Betula, Eucryphia, Eucalyptus, Rhododendron, Hosta and Iris. Of particular note is the impressive Camellia collection (containing 800+ cultivars).
RHS Garden Rosemoor
The regional jewel in the RHS crown, Rosemoor(which is near the town of Torrington) is a popular stop on any North Devon gardens tour. Work on the garden began in 1959 on an original 8 acre site which was developed in a naturalistic style – first opened to the public in 1967 it now comprises of 65 acres.
Well managed, the site contains a number of different gardens including the Hot garden, Winter garden, Model gardens and Exotic garden. Rosemoor also has lake and woodland scenery as well as arboretom and orchard areas. As a consequence, this is a real garden for all seasons and most months of the year has something to show.
Tapeley Park’scharm lies in its age (with parts of the garden dating back to the mid nineteenth century) and the unorthodox path travelled by its current custodian, Hector Christie, who has been a champion of organic farming and working with nature since the early 1990s. This is typified by Tapeley’s permaculture garden one of the oldest in the UK, which to the untrained eye looks ‘wild’, but up close is a fine example of working with mother nature.
Beneath a canopy of traditional trees and shrubs, system and partner plants attract beneficial insects and bees (Tapeley is pesticide free). The result is a wonderful garden filled with exotic edible plants that can be tasted. The permaculture gardeners are always happy to show visitors around and illustrate the benefits of this form of gardening. The classical style of the Italian terraces portray a more orthodox garden style.
Docton Mill is located near to the village of Clovelly (and often combined with a day trip to the cobbled streets of this cliff top village). A privately owned garden, Docton has been an exciting work in progress since the property was taken over in the 1970s. Its stunning wildflower gardens thrive in this beautiful valley location.
The valley environment is also home to different sections including Woodland garden and Bog garden with the wonderful Magnolia garden and large Herbaceous borders lending a real splash of colour throughout the seasons. As well as amazing gardens, Docton Mill is also home to a rather amazing tea room!
While the gardens of this National Trust property are not its main focus, Arlington Courtis still a popular stop on any North Devon gardens tour. The Victorian garden, Walled kItchen garden and conservatory display a range of colourful annual flowers, fruits and vegetables and plants more commonly seen in the southern hemisphere.
The larger Arlington Estate holds many treats for the visitor; from the collections on display inside the classical regency house to one of the country’s most significant collection of carriages, housed in the old stable block. Also very popular are the many trails and footpaths (20 miles of them!), that criss-cross this grand country Estate.
The best time to visit North Devon’s gardens is spring to early summer, when the blooms are at their most vibrant, although between March and October there is still plenty to see and admire. Explore North Devon’s wonderful gardens from the Carlton, which offers luxurious roomsand excellent dining to make the most of a relaxing break.
Take advantage of the Gardens of North Devonpackage. Based at The Carlton and including two nights accommodation with full English breakfast, three course dinner on one evening, afternoon tea with fizz and free admission to both RHS Rosemoor and Marwood Hill Gardens. Priced at £69 per person per night and available on selected dates during September, October and into November.
Do you have a sense of adventure? If the answer is yes, then we have the perfect destination for you. If the answer is ‘I used to’, then we also have the perfect destination for you to rediscover that sense. Welcome to North Devon – England’s Adventure Coast.
It’s some boast of course, but in this case it could be said to be true. There’s something about North Devon- which runs from the Cornish border to the edge of Exmoor – that sets it aside from other parts of the country. This is typified by the rugged coastal landscape, formed by the region’s exposure to everything the Atlantic flings its way (there is nothing but sea between it and the coast of North America), and the lushness of rolling green hills.
Ilfracombe, home to the Carlton Hotel is the perfect location to explore the best the North Devon Adventure Coast has to offer. So let’s set the scene with a look at what adventures the area has to offer:
It’s such a good place to start, considering our town of Ilfracombe sits within one of the most picturesqueyet hidden of bay locations. Thecoastline around it mottled with small coves that once offered smugglers safe havenand have captured the imagination of Famous Five tales (nearby WidmouthBay was the backdrop for 1995’s ‘Five on a Treasure Island’ TV production). The perfectexploration adventure awaits!
Looking at the bigger coastal picture, the wonderful SouthWest coastal path provides a fantastic North Devon Adventure Coast experience – whether as part of an extended hike, or a day trip excursion, complete with picnic in the pack. The trail covers the breadth of the North Devon coastline, ascending steep cliffs, with amazing views out to sea, and descending onto empty beaches with frequent wildlife spotting opportunities, such as seals and porpoises bobbing between the waves. The Ilfracombe- Mortehoesection of the coastal path is particularly rugged and epic, while the section from Ilfracombe to Combe Martin is more sheltered and verdant.Whichever the route the visage is stunning.
Long before North Devon got the title ‘England’s Adventure Coast’, it had been discovered by those committed devotees to the adventure sportsgenre. The beaches of North Devon are renowned for their great surfing opportunities. The sandy length of Woolacombe beach is frequently counted as one of thebest in the worldand its waves (particularly at the Putsboroughend, are classic). Nearby Croyde has surf that pumps (beginners beware) over its sandy bar, whereas the longer, more manageable, waves of Saunton Sands are a long boarder’s paradise and a great place to learn to surf.
Away from the waves, North Devon’s deep forested valleys, high moors and miles and miles of tranquil country lanes, provide most excellent cycling terrain for both road bikers and mountain bikers (check out our North Devon cycling blogfor more information).
Time to cast away thetech and swap a smart phone for a pair of binoculars and a firm stick! England’s Adventure Coast is a nature haven, a place where you can get close to wildlife without having to pay the price of an admission ticket– yes so much of the offer is free. As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,and a UNESCO designated Biosphere, nature is literally on the doorstep. If you care about the environment, then England’s Adventure Coast is a great place to explore it! Adventures can be found throughout the Exmoor national park – from getting up close to an Exmoor pony or deer spotting as the sun goes down with a ranger (many activities are free). Braunton Burrows, one of the UK’s biggest sand dunes, always provides an adventure too (follow the walks in the Burrows guide to avoid the real possibility of getting lost in this vast space).
TheNorth Devon Adventure Coast culinary expedition will include some seaside favourites – fudge, ice cream, fish and chips! – but will also open the window onto a world of fresh caught fish, local reared meat and fine,locally grown ingredients. Use the Carlton as your home and enjoy a rich dining experiencethat will sensationalise those taste buds!
Need we say more?! Set up base at The Carlton in Ilfracombe where our stylish contemporary rooms and first class facilities provide a luxurious sanctuary… and set your sense of adventure loose this Summer or Autumn. Get in contactfor more information or to book a stay.
Now that summer is just around the corner we are buying local asparagus, and this features through our brasserie menu. Delivered by Edds (wholesale greengrocer at Mullacott) grown and picked at Broadlands Farm, outside Braunton which is part of the flat landscape known as the Great Field.
Typically and throughout the year we also receive, locally grown swede, cauliflowers, Maris piper potatoes and spring greens from Braunton.
Other potatoes picked in Bideford and depending on the time of the year, savoy, tundra and red cabbage are available again in Braunton. Occasionally, purple sprouting and kale are available again from the Great Field.
About the Great Field
Braunton’s Great Field truly lives up to its name. It is treasured as one of only two surviving medieval open strip field systems in England and is believed to date way back the 1200s. Here you can walk through a medieval landscape; covering an area of around 350 acres (equivalent to 200 football pitches). Such fields were the norm in medieval England but virtually all have since been lost or modified.
This huge field would have been used by hundreds of landworkers, busily farming the food they needed to support their families. The land was farmed in narrow strips, most comprising of 22 yards (one chain) by one furlong (220 yards) in length, which interestingly makes an acre, which it was said was the amount an Oxen could plough in a day. Clusters of strips were given field names such as Gallowell, Pitlands, Longhedgelands, etc.
In 1840 it was recorded that the Great Field was divided into some 600 strips in 60 different ownerships. Today the land is worked by just a small number of farmers but clues to the field’s ancient heritage are easy to spot. Although some of the distinct landsherds (small mounds of earth separating the strips) have been lost through modern farming methods together with the Bond Stones which marked division in ownership, many landsherds and the furlough boundary tracks still remain in place.
We’ve updated our Spring/Summer Wine List and really grown the collection this year. In the whites, our changes include an upgrade to the ever popular Pinot Grigio (and for the same price as previous). We’ve introduced a quality Bourgogne Aligote from a smallish 30 acre vineyard in the Cote Clhallonais. It’s perfect with seafood which is always on our menu.
We’ve also introduced a new French sparkling wine, which is a great alternative to Prosecco. Our Domaine Rosier has been awarded into the Top 100 Sud de France for Cuvée Ma Maison Blanquette de Limoux Brut 2017. This means that the wine will be shown at The London Wine Fair next month. The Civitas Pecorino is “Demeter” registered as bio-dynamic. Bio-dynamic agriculture is a form of alternative agriculture very similar to organic farming, but it includes various esoteric concepts drawn from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). Initially developed in 1924, it was the first of the organic agriculture movements. It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.
The Rioja Azabache Crianza returns to our list this spring. This wine has spent 12 months in American Oak barrels and 6 months in bottle before its released to us. It is therefore a pre-matured ripe and ready glass of Tempranillo from Rioja which is in the sub-alpine region of Northern Spain at 500 metres above sea level.
Finally the ever popular Boatman’s Drift Cabernet Sauvignon (and yes it really is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc Merlot blend is shipped in flexi-tank method (a shipping container sized bag in the box) and bottled in the UK saving packaging being shipped around the world unnecessarily. It also helps to recycle the UK glass mountain as a result.
Did you know that all but one of our wines are suitable for vegans (and vegetarians)! The odd one out is the Macon which still uses the traditional casein or milk protein in the fining process. Furthermore, no animal testing has been used to produce our wines. We have ten wines by the glass so you can be sure to match your grape to your dish.
Don’t forget you can claim your 20% discount each time you use your Carlton Club card.
This autumn we’ve updated our wine list, to reflect the change in season. We’ve introduced some great value wines from South Africa, Chile, and Italy.
Our new Stonedale Shiraz is a little spicier than its predecessor and is ideal for the bigger flavored dishes on this seasons menu.
The Ca’Luca Merlot offers an alternative to our really popular Boatmans Drift. Soft and round, with a good finish according to Nick our wine expert!
The Chilean Chardonnay is rich, and quite a classic flavor. Fruity tones knock back the richness of the Chardonnay grape.
All new wines are great value at under £20 a bottle and if you show your Carlton Club card delivers exceptional value. So what are you waiting for? Come and sample some delicious wine this autumn!
Why not become a member of The Carlton Club to hear about all of our latest offers? Carlton Club members also get 20% off food and drink so don’t miss out! Find out how to join here. Please note: The Carlton Club discount doe not apply to this deal.
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