Walkers head for Dartmoor
Thursday, 16 January 2014

Heavenly Devon

Enjoy roaring fires, cream teas and hearty moorland hikes...

Written by Wendy Gomersall
Devon is one of our favourite UK destinations for a summertime weekend away – it’s a county that offers wonderful seaside, glorious countryside and enough family attractions to keep everyone happy.

Many of the gardens, activity centres and galleries close for the winter, of course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a short break here in January or February. It is, for example, a brilliant place to kick o a new healthier lifestyle or just blow away the cobwebs after being housebound over a blustery festive season.

Walkers adore Dartmoor, and you can immediately see why, with its mile after mile of striking moorland. You can choose any number of routes – long or short, di€ cult or easy – to follow. And, of course, you can take the dog with you, too.

Set in 11 acres in the heart of Dartmoor, the 25-room Ilsington Country House Hotel is the perfect base for a walking holiday. The views are stunning and picturesque Haytor, one of the region’s spectacular stone outcrops, is within hiking distance or a short car drive away.

The village of Ilsington is just a short walk away, too, Enjoy roaring fi res, cream teas and hearty moorland hikes in heavenly Devon and there are a number of beautiful towns and villages close by in which to shop for knick-knacks, enjoy a cream tea or simply admire the lovely ‘olde worlde’ homes.

Your itinerary should include Widecombe (of Fair fame, of course, always on the second Tuesday of September) and Newton Abbot. Or perhaps you’d like to try pony trekking, hawking or even ballooning? After a cheek-pinching foray on the moors, nothing’s more delightful than snuggling up in front of a roaring real •fire with a cuppa or something stronger.

You feel instantly at home at the Ilsington. The lounges are so relaxed and comfortable, and the staff e€fficient and friendly.

Travel-Jan17-02-590Ilsington Country House Hotel

The hotel, which won the bronze award in South Devon’s hotel of the year category, has two restaurants, serving scrumptious food using local products wherever possible.

At the acclaimed two AA Rosette main restaurant, we enjoyed an excellent French onion soup and lovely fresh pollock.

For less formal dining, there’s the bistro-style Blue Tiger Inn – even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it’s a great place to eat. Tuck into a platter of local and homesmoked • sh from the hotel’s own smokehouse, or go for the fish pierrade: a mixture of fresh fish, scallops and succulent king prawns cooked exactly to your taste by yourselves on a teppanyaki table grill – great fun. The Blue Tiger fish pie is absolutely delicious.

And after a long day’s walking – or shopping or sightseeing – the hotel’s tired but well-equipped leisure complex is the spot to relax, with a sauna, steam room and big pool for a swim.

Relaxing massages are also available if booked in advance, and, for guests wanting to work o those festive pounds, the leisure complex also has a wellequipped gym.

Pampered pets get a warm welcome, too, with treats and a guide to local dog-friendly walkies, including beaches, coves and moorland routes, whatever time of year you’re visiting.

Getting there The Ilsington Hotel’s twonight Dartmoor Walker’s Package costs from £310 for two including bed and breakfast, a book of Dartmoor’s walks, a dinner (• rst night only) in theŸawardwinning restaurant, a packed lunch, a cream tea, plus a DVD of Spielberg’s epic film, War Horse. Nine rooms can accommodate dogs too for an additional £16 a night.

01364-661452, www.ilsington.co.uk

Contact Wendy at wendy.gomersall@lady.co.uk

TENNIS TAKES OFF The Healthy Holiday Company’s tennis holidays include four nights at La Manga Club, Spain, from £690 per person. Also try the cardio tennis workout. 020-8968 0501, www.thehealthyholidaycompany.co.uk

SUNSHINE STATE Had enough of winter? America As You Like It o ers seven nights in Florida from £869 per person in January and February, including Virgin Atlantic ¦ ights, accommodation at Champions World Resort in Orlando and three nights at Collins Hotel, Miami, and car hire. 020-8742 8299, www.americaasyoulikeit.com

LAKE HIDEAWAYS Inntravel’s Rural Hideaways 2014 programme, a collection of 36 cottages, farmhouse apartments and quintas throughout Europe, includes Lake Orta Hillside Apartments in Italy’s Lake District. The apartments cost from £748 for a week selfcatering including car hire. 01653-617000, www.inntravel.co.uk

NEW SKILL Kick off the new year with Transun’s seven-night Cross Country Ski Lapland holiday, based in Karesuando. From £799 per person. 01865-265200, www.transun.co.uk

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