When I was given the chance for a self-catering break in east Devon, I jumped at the chance! For me, east Devon represents my childhood holidays, having spent many a sunny afternoon on the pebbly beaches of Beer and the like.
This was the chance to show my daughter some of that east Devon magic too!
Where we stayed
We chose a beautiful thatched cottage owned by Sweetcombe Cottages, a specialist holiday cottage company in east Devon. The cottage, Rosemary Cottage, was located in the small hamlet of Weston, a couple of miles from Sidmouth.
Although the weather wasn’t playing ball when we first arrived, the cottage still managed to ooze charm. The pretty front garden was adorned with forget-me-nots, tulips and blossom with birds dashing in and out of the small trees and bushes.
What the cottage offers
Rosemary Cottage sleeps 6 people, with two double bedrooms and a single bedroom upstairs and a double bedroom downstairs.
Upon entering it you can’t help but fall for it! A grand dining room greets you along with its exposed stone walls and rich red walls.
To your left, there’s a cosy living room with inglenook fireplace and wood burner (I knew this would tick lots of boxes for my partner!).
Two comfy sofas provided ample seating for guests. This room also had in it a large bookcase with enough reading material to keep you going for several months!
Also on the ground floor was a very large kitchen that had all the essentials and those extras that make a self-catering break so much easier such as a dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer.
In here there was also a lovely welcome pack featuring locally produced goodies – the West Country tea was a hit and the Moors biscuits were oh so good that they didn’t last very long!
Adjacent to the downstairs bedroom, you’ll find a large shower room and access to the back garden, which is shared with the owner who lives next door.
You really feel the cottage’s history as you ascent the stairs to the first floor. There are thick stone walls, gorgeous wooden doors and floorboards that make you feel a little tipsy due to the way they lay!
The two double rooms are spacious with double wardrobes and handy things such as a hairdryer. Upon this floor is also the main bathroom with shower attachment over the bath.
We all loved the cottage’s gardens. The back garden was very beautiful at this time of year with a mass of bluebells in one of the flower beds and the dotting of cowslips on the lawn.
You’d often hear birdsong when sitting out with regular visiting blackbirds and robins and you may even hear the distinctive bray of a donkey or two as the cottage is just a short stroll from the world-famous Donkey Sanctuary!
What you can do near to Rosemary Cottage
I touched on this in the last paragraph, but one of Rosemary Cottage’s big draws is the Donkey Sanctuary being in walking distance.
The Sidmouth site was the Donkey Sancutary’s original location (there are now several Donkey Sanctuaries dotted around the UK) and it’s a popular place to visit for all generations. Whenever I am in the east Devon area, I make it my mission to visit and this time was no exception.
You can easily spend a whole day walking the extensive farmland on the various trails. For younger visitors there’s a small donkey-themed play area and the onsite café offers amazing views across the donkey paddocks, plus there’s a real emphasis on locally-sourced produce.
And as we were in Devon, we had to have a Devon cream tea of course! Entry to the Donkey Sanctuary is free, however donations are encouraged, understandably.
There are plenty of walks you can do from the cottage including a walk to Weston beach where you can pick up the South West Coast Path.
The walk down to the beach is steep however and not one we fancied doing with a 2-year-old on this occasion but from reading the visitors’ book, it seems a lot of the previous guests had enjoyed this, and many of the other walks that you can do right from your doorstep. Plus, as the cottage is pet-friendly, lots of dog owners were taking advantage of such great opportunities for walkies!
We decided on our second day there, to drive down to Budleigh Salterton to take a walk along the River Otter to the village of Otterton. A 2 ¾ walk each way which was relatively flat and offers a chance to see a variety of wetland bird and if you are lucky, you may even spot a beaver or two!
Sidmouth is a very quick drive and offers all the charm of a Victorian seaside resort, with grand hotels, some great independent shops and cafes and its International Jazz Festival. Plus, in the case of a 2-year-old, the obligatory seaside ice cream pit stop!
Close by is also the beach at Branscombe. Again, a pebbly beach and one that you may remember from the news. An anchor displayed beside the beach reminds visitors about the Napoli, a container ship which was beached at Branscombe back in 2007.
If you fancy travelling further afield then you could easily do a day trip to Lyme Regis, Exeter or down to the English Riviera. Another place that I’ve visited before and have written about is Burrow Farm Gardens, which is around a 30-minute drive away.
We loved our stay at Rosemary Cottage! It was convenient for some amazing days out and yet was set away from things enough that you could enjoy the peace and quiet. Being so close to the Donkey Sanctuary has to be a bonus too!
My parents came to visit us at the cottage on our first night there, as they were staying nearby for the weekend. I could sense a tad of envy in my mum’s voice and could tell that she would happily stay there too. To be fair, it did seem a bit empty with just the three of us in this cottage and it would make a great place for a larger family get together.
If you are looking for a family getaway or a break with friends then I’d definitely recommend a stay here. And if you are after something that’s smaller, or larger in fact, get in touch with Sweetcombe Cottages. The company is family-owned and has over 200 properties in the east Devon area in its portfolio, so you are bound to find something to suit your needs.