Our London Canine Critics, Puggy and Pops, went on a mini-break to North Devon to celebrate New Year's Eve away from the busyness of the city. Their owner, Charlie, shares their holiday diary with us:
Away from the hustle and bustle of London, and just after the craziness of a big family Christmas, came the ultimate New Year’s Eve escape in the form of The Cider Barn in High Bickington, North Devon.
We were treated to a three-night stay in ultimate bliss in a remote ‘upside-down' barn conversion with loads of character and charm. As we were celebrating New Year and the barn has a spare double room, we asked our good friends Frankie and Alex to come and stay with us, and I couldn’t think of a nicer way to see in 2020.
After a hefty drive from London, we arrived dazed and confused but eager to get stuck in! We were welcomed by the cottage owner, her partner and their two beautiful dogs, who showed us around the cottage and the surrounding land, and gave us some tips and tricks! We were blown away with how welcome we were made to feel and the welcome pack with treats and local produce was a really lovely touch.
As if that wasn’t enough, they included fluffy blankets and beds for the dogs, water bowls and even some gourmet treats for the pooches to enjoy too! We felt so at ease knowing our dogs were just as welcome as we were, and we all felt so chilled and relaxed from the get-go.
After we got unpacked and settled in, we didn’t have much light left, so we took a quick stroll around the cottage grounds and surrounding fields to stretch our legs and dose up on country air. Then we fell back into the cottage for a night of Netflix on the giant TV and snackies by the wood burner.
Both bedrooms have an en-suites and beautiful views, but we decided to pick the room with the huge super-king bed and we slept like babies! The doggies were also in for a treat as the heated floor warmed their beds, and they didn’t wake up once all night!
We had a lazy morning, woke up slow and then headed out for some New Year’s Eve supplies! We bought everything we could possibly need from the supermarket, a breezy 15-minute drive away.
Our close friends arrived around lunchtime and, once they had settled in, we took a walk through the country lanes and explored the local area. We found High Bickington, a gorgeous village not too far from us, with a dog-friendly pub called The Golden Lion and few shops selling local produce (including the dreamiest Devon ice cream that we will never forget!) When the weather got drizzly, we headed back and got ourselves ready for our low-key New Year’s celebrations.
We had a whale of a time utilising the fully equipped, modern kitchen, cooking up a feast and listening to music on the speaker provided. We got steadily boozy and all cheered around the wood burner with a bottle of champers when the clock struck midnight!
Like true party animals, the dogs were in tucked up in bed by 12.30am and we weren’t that far behind them!
It was such a treat to celebrate the new year away from the big city, with all the commotion and fireworks. For once, the dogs were completely chilled with no stress or anxiety and we will be definitely continuing this tradition of celebrating in peace for years to come.
After inhaling our locally sourced farm shop breakfast of champions, we decided the best hangover cure was to get out and enjoy the countryside.
So we all bundled in one car and headed to Valley of Rocks in Exmoor, just under an hour away from our cottage.
Valley of Rocks is a stunning coastal path with breathtaking views and a gorgeous beach if you follow it all the way down.
We took a long, easy stroll and met heaps of other walkers and doggies along the way. It was the perfect remedy for our fuzzy heads and the photo opportunities were awesome!
I also heard that the cliffside railway train is a great dog-friendly attraction, but unfortunately it wasn’t running on New Year’s Day. Not to be disappointed, we grabbed a coffee at Charlie Friday's, a cute dog-friendly cafe, and walked back to the car.
On our way home, we decided to swing by the seaside town of Ilfracombe to grab some lunch and set our eyes on the famous Damien Hirst sculpture, ‘Verity’ – one of the largest sculptures in Europe, proudly overlooking the harbour. Once we got our fill, we decided it would be a crime to visit the seaside without getting fish and chips, so we went to Lynbay Fish & Chips, dog-friendly chippy with tables inside, and filled our boots!
As darkness fell, we headed straight back to the gorgeous cottage to make the most of our final evening with a cheese board, spooky movies and yet more snuggles in front of the wood burner, which we miss so deeply already!
The lovely owner stopped by to say goodbye to us with her pooches, and even offered to let us stay later than the agreed check-out time as the cleaners weren’t due until the following day.
With a few extra hours, we all enjoyed one final cooked brekkie, a quick walk around the local fields and we packed up our things and headed back to the big city and back to reality.
For us city folk, this was a much-needed breath of fresh air. We absolutely loved the location, how dog friendly everything was, the people, the local food spots and, most of all, this incredible little cottage!
We really can’t recommend this place any more, especially for those of you who, like us, live busy, city lives. If you are looking for some tranquillity and calm, you should definitely consider The Cider Barn.