Last week I shared some photos of Hotel Endsleigh, the first of two places which Chris and I stayed at during our recent escape to Devon. As promised, here’s a peek at the second: Weeke Barton, hidden above a wooded valley on the edge of brooding Dartmoor National Park.
This beautiful B&B is an entirely different kettle of fish to Hotel Endsleigh. Yes, it’s set in another old building – more than 500 years old, in fact, and rumoured by locals to be the longest traditional longhouse in the area. But inside it’s been given a contemporary makeover by owners Jo and Sam, a former restaurant manager and a graphic designer who swapped London life for the wilds of Devon in 2007.
I was lucky enough to review Weeke Barton for i-escape when it first opened back in 2012, and I couldn’t wait to return for another visit. It was just as wonderful as I remembered: hip yet homely – the kind of place where you can kick off your shoes and truly unwind. We felt ourselves begin to relax as soon as we stepped inside to find soft jazz playing in the background and a wood-burner crackling in the lounge.
The house has lost none of its period character (thick walls, ancient beams, hidden nooks), but Jo and Sam have skilfully offset it with sleek urban furniture, cowhide rugs and a sprinkling of modern art. There are quirky touches, too: Russian dolls and a collection of old cameras in the dining room, a Spanish bullfighting poster in the lounge, lamps shaped like owls and vintage telephones, footstools adorned with folksy embroidery.
A pair of steep spiral staircases twist up to the five bedrooms, which are named after the children of the first guests to stay in them. All are stylish sanctuaries, with delightfully wonky walls, huge beds, and pops of colour in throws and chairs. Best of all, every room has a sheepskin-covered window seat gazing out over the garden – perfect for curling up with a book and a cuppa. On our first visit we’d been lucky enough to stay in Orla’s Room, a vast space with a free-standing bathtub in one corner, and a TV which swivels out from the wall so you can watch as you snooze or soak. This time around we were treated to Henry’s Room, which has an ornate plasterwork hearth beneath soaring rafters.
After settling in we jumped in the car for a brief pootle around Dartmoor, admiring the craggy granite tours and stopping for a stroll along the sun-dappled River Teign. But most of our time was spent lounging around Weeke Barton, revelling in the tranquillity and the opportunity to do very little at all.
Come evening, we gathered around the huge slate-topped table for a laid-back dinner with other guests. I have to admit that I’m not normally a fan of communal dining on holiday, but the relaxed vibe meant conversation flowed easily and we all ended up lingering in the bar long after our meal. And the food was delicious: simple, home-cooked fare such as Dexter beef pie and warming damson crumble, packed with seasonal flavours. Jo has a penchant for all things local and organic, and if it’s not homemade then it’s sourced nearby; she’s even creating a biodynamic kitchen garden, and she rears her own pigs.
Breakfast the next morning was just as good, though we nearly missed it thanks to the combination of a blissfully comfy mattress and one too many glasses of wine the night before. Following our noses downstairs, we found the table laden with bottles of fresh apple juice, jars of homemade granola, baskets of home-baked bread, local jams and preserves, and steaming cafetières of coffee. Then came the main treat: a plate of succulent sausages, bacon and eggs from a neighbouring farm, which cleared our heads in no time.
We may have only spent a night at Weeke Barton, but pulling ourselves back to reality was a bit of a shock to the system. I can’t wait to return for another dose of Dartmoor relaxation soon.
All photography by Abi Dare