We have been lucky enough to live in the beautiful West Country for the past 15 years, and we’ve always taken advantage of the fact that we have all this stunning countryside on our doorstep.
As we are on the North Devon coast, we have Exmoor national park to one side of us, and only thirty miles down the Atlantic Highway the other way is the Cornish border, with all the spectacular scenery that entails.
I thought I’d share some of the photos I’ve taken over the last few years, whilst visiting various different places on holiday, on days out, and when we’ve just been out for walks with the dog.
And I’ll try and give you some background to the places too.
(Some of you may have already noticed that I use Instagram. This photography app has come in for a lot of stick recently, but I like it)
One place that we have been on numerous occasions – both for a relaxing walk in the grounds and a snack at the tearooms, and to attend one of the many festivals they hold there – is Tapeley Park house and gardens.
Tapeley Park house, seen from the Italian terrace garden.
The estate has been in the same family since the 1700’s, and is now owned by local anti-corporate campaigner and political activist, Hector Christie, who runs it on a sustainable basis, and he is proud of his Green credentials, supplying the local community – as well as the estate cafe – with organic vegetables, and using recycled materials wherever possible.
The house has it’s own claim to fame – the fact that it has an important collection of William Morris furniture – ironically preserved over the years, due to the house being unheated and mainly closed up for years, as revealed on a C4 documentary.
But it has always been the grounds – which include a Victorian kitchen garden and experimental permaculture garden – that make us go back time and again.
The lake is a beautiful place for a picnic.
Many exotic plants grow in the mild, sheltered climate.
Neatly trimmed arbours lead you on…
…to surprises around each corner.
There are animals too. Apart from the wildlife scurrying in the undergrowth, the estate keeps rare breed pigs, sheep, and highland cattle.
Three little pigs.
The hard landscaping has been lovingly restored, most notably on the steps leading down to the Italian terrace garden…
…and yet, there are still echoes of the past, lending a eerie calm to quiet, reflective corners.
There is even a labyrinth, made from the stone shards of an exploded obelisk, victim of a 1931 lightning strike.
A fascinating and, in some indefinable way, enchanted place, it’s somewhere we will return to again and again, always discovering something new.
If you’re ever down this way, why not go and see for yourself, you never know what you might find…