Castle Drogo

Cream of the crop

What do you recommend doing in Devon? 

As the owners of Melrose Cottage, a stunning, open plan holiday cottage in the heart of West Devon, we get asked this a lot! In this article we highlight our top 5 – the must-see  and must-dos when on holiday in Devon! If you try out all of these things, you will be sure to go home from your holiday raving about what a wonderful time you have had. 


#1 Devour a Cream Tea

You can’t come to Devon and go home without trying the most renowned West Country treat in all the land! When you do go, make sure you eat it the Devon way – a light fluffy traditional scone with the delicious, rich clotted cream on FIRST, followed by some fruity, sweet jam. A lovely hot pot of tea or coffee on the side to complete the treat.

I recommend trying out the Victorian Pantry Tearooms, Okehampton (5-10 minutes walk from Melrose Cottage). Set in a picturesque cobbled courtyard in the centre of Okehampton, this petite, historic Victorian tearoom serves delicious traditional Devonshire cream teas. If you pick a sunny day, there is plentiful outdoor seating in the courtyard to savour your cream teas. The Museum of Dartmoor Life is just across the courtyard if you want to learn something on the way back!


#2 Go on a Cider Tour

The South West is just as famous for its cider as it is for its cream tea! You can learn all about how cider is made from blossom to bottle and do some cider tasting too. Try out the family-run local destination The Cider Vat (15 minutes drive from Melrose Cottage), where you can experience a guided tour of the cidery with master cider maker Alison along with a detailed explanation of how cider is made. Or you could try a tour and tasting at Sandford Orchards (35 minutes drive from Melrose Cottage). Here you will take a behind the scenes look at the oldest working cider mill in the country and see how the award winning Sandford Orchards Cider is made. Round off the experience with cider tasting and pizza.


 #3 Walk on Dartmoor

You will be spoilt if you are staying at Melrose Cottage, as you can walk straight onto Dartmoor from the end of the road. Dartmoor National Park is one of the gems in the crown of England – “Wild, open moorlands and deep river valleys, with a rich history and rare wildlife, Dartmoor is a unique place”. 

Explore Dartmoor at your own pace. There are walks to suit everyone on Dartmoor, ranging from a couple of miles to more difficult walks of over 12 miles on steep terrain. 

If you’re a bit nervous, why not go on a guided walk with Paul Rendell? You will learn about the history, wildlife and maybe pickup on an Dartmoor legend or two along the way.


#4 Cycle and E-Bike on the Granite Way

The Granite Way is a beautiful long section of smooth cycleway, away from cars and traffic. Cycle over the old railway viaduct and take in views of Meldon reservoir and the moors as you cycle the 11 miles from Okehampton to Lydford. The Granite Way literally starts at the end of the road from Melrose Cottage. If you’re already a keen cyclist, bring your bikes along and store them in our lockable bike shed. If you don’t fancy bringing them, you can hire bikes from Adventure Okehampton, at the top of the road. 

If you want to enjoy the Granite Way or explore Dartmoor more widely, without so much hard work, how about having a go at e-biking? Local e-biking guide Aaron offers guided rides across Dartmoor, suitable for ages from 14 and above  with little experience. or more 

For more challenging routes for more experienced mountain bikers wanting to try out e-bikes try Dartmoor E-Biking.


#5 Visit an Old English Castle

We are lucky enough to have two castles very close by to Melrose Cottage. Castle Drogo (20 minutes drive from Melrose Cottage) was the last castle to be built in England, and was constructed in the early 1900s. This national trust property boats interiors full of collection items, manicured gardens or adventurous walks on the banks of the Teign Gorge. There are also activities for children and a gift shop and café on site. 

At the other end of the spectrum, just a short walk up the hill from Melrose Cottage, you will find Okehampton Castle – an iconic image of Okehampton. This castle comprises the remains of the largest castle in Devon, built in the 14th century. With beautiful views across Dartmoor, wander around outdoors admiring this ancient masterpiece.