Stay the night: Edgcott House & Cascade Cottage, Somerset
Edgcott's careful refurbishment makes the most of all its nooks and crannies. Mark Rowe explored
Sunday 16 May 2010
Deep in one of Exmoor's many folded valleys, at the very heart of the South-west's wildest quarter, stands Edgcott House, half a mile above the lonely village of Exford, a recently renovated B&B with an adjacent, and delightful, self-catering cottage.
The white-washed building, thought to date from the 17th century, has been carefully restored by its new owners as a period house with a south-facing lawn framed by sloping grounds, flowering shrubs and mature woodland. The surrounding grounds spread for six acres and are so dense in parts that enticing tiered gardens and brick-edged paths are tempting to explore.
The property may have been originally built as a Somerset long house – a farmhouse with several rooms connected to one another. You can still see signs of this on the ground floor, where the rooms peel off from the main corridor.
The focus of the property is the long room, the location for breakfast and also for evening drinks, when you can sink into comfortable sofas around the recessed fireplace. Features include hand-painted trompe l'oeil panels fashioned in a style known as Strawberry Hill Gothic.
The adjacent Cascade Cottage, which sleeps six, has been tastefully restored, with low ceilings, wooden panels and snug bedrooms fitted out with modern bathrooms. Its huge white chimney looks as though it has sprung straight from a fairy tale, while a brook runs past the kitchen.
There are seven rooms on the first floor – two large doubles that can host families, four more doubles, and a single. Each has been individually decorated and good use has been made of the quirky corners and shapes of the house. There's one bedroom where you must step down off the first-floor corridor to enter and another has an almost cylindrical bathroom. Cosy towels, cast iron baths, leather sofas and luxurious linen complete the picture. All have wall-mounted flat-screen televisions.
The food and drink
Breakfast features home-made granola, apple porridge (a Somerset delicacy), the smoothie of the day, and local meat. For those who feel that being part of the community is important, the owners have gone to considerable lengths to source food locally on the principle of "use the local shops or lose them". Food that cannot be sourced in Exford is bought from a Somerset food co-operative. For guests in the cottage, food can be ordered and left in the freezer in advance.
Just behind the self-catering cottage is an uphill path that cuts across the river to a field that is part of the property and has views over the moors. You can also walk through the fields, and over wooden footbridges into Exford itself, which has one of the prettiest village greens in the South-west. There you can enjoy a drink in the Crown Hotel. Just a 15-minute drive away is Landacre Bridge, one of Exmoor's classic picnic spots.
Children and dogs are welcome. All rooms are on the first floor, and there is no specialist provision for wheelchair users.
B&B costs from £55 to £85 per night. Cascade Cottage can be rented for £325 to £750 a week, with short-break rates also available.
Edgcott House, Edgcott Road, Exford, Somerset TA24 7QG (01643-831164; edgcotthouse.co.uk).
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