Combe Cottage's location offers the best of all worlds, with beautiful surrounding countryside, easy access to the coast, and lots of sights and attractions to visit throughout the year.
There are loads of beautiful walks and cycle routes in the area for all ages and abilities, including several straight from the door. Explore Lorna Doone country with a walk along the Doone Valley, ending at Oare church (where Lorna Doone was shot in the book), followed by a cream tea by the river at Malmsmead. Climb up Dunkery Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor, for wonderful views across Exmoor and towards the sea. From late January to early March, walk in Snowdrop Valley, near Wheddon Cross, where the banks of the river in spring are carpeted with snowdrops, thought to have originally been planted by monks from Dunster in the 13th century. Or simply enjoy a stroll straight from the door down the footpath opposite the cottage to the river in the valley below or if, you're feeling more energetic, up to Winsford Hill via the Punchbowl.
For cyclists, there are various traffic free cycle routes to explore, inlcuding along the canal at Tiverton, the 30 mile Tarka trail starting at Braughton or try one of the trails around Wimbleball Lake, which include two especially for children. For those who like more of a challenge, the area offers some fantastic road routes, with light traffic and wonderful views.
Tarr Steps and Exmoor Pony Centre
The historic clapper bridge at Tarr Steps is only three miles away, and is a great place for a walk along the beautiful Barle river valley, followed by a paddle and refreshments at the Tarr Farm Inn, which serves fantastic food, including enormous cream teas! Just nearby is the Exmoor pony centre, where you can meet some of these rare-breed ponies, enjoy a taster session or, for those with a little more riding experience, a pony trek on the moors.
The nearest sandy beach is at Minehead is 30 minutes drive away, and you can reach the north Devon beaches around Woolacombe in under an hour. Why not visit the coastal towns of Lynton and Lynmouth, where you can enjoy a ride on the Victorian cliff railway, or walk in the Valley of the Rocks or up the river to Watersmeet, followed by fish and chips by the sea.
There are several National Trust properties to visit in the area, including Arlington Court (which includes the National Trust carriage museum and also has two woodland adventure playgrounds for children), Knightshayes Court near Tiverton, set in beautiful gardens, and Dunster Castle, with its stunning location on a wooded hillside overlooking the sea. All run various events throughout the year, including Easter egg hunts, ice skating and historical re-enactments.
You can also visit Exmoor Zoo, the home of the Exmoor Beast, which offers lots of hands-on activities and opportunities to get to know its residents, or Watermouth Castle and theme park, including rides and play areas and beautiful landscaped gardens.
Wimbleball Lake Country Park is only a few miles from Winsford and offers numerous activities including sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, angling, high ropes, climbing and introductory orienteering courses. There are lovely walks around the lake, plus a cafe and children's playground.
The West Somerset Steam Railway runs between Minehead and Bishops Lydeard, and also offers numerous special events - enjoy a sherry and mince pie or cream tea special, or travel with Peppa Pig and George, Fireman Sam or even Santa! Or you can enjoy an even more leisurely ride on the traditional horse-drawn barge along Tiverton canal.
Shopping and eating
The local town of Dulverton has numerous shops and facilities, including a butcher, greengrocer, Co-op supermarket, post office and bank. There is a Londis supermarket and petrol station at Wheddon Cross (4 miles away) which also has a post office, ATM and offers home delivery, plus Tesco and Morrisons supermarkets at Minehead and a Sainsburys in South Molton (which will deliver groceries to Combe Cottage). For those nights when no one wants to cook, the Royal Oak in the village and Tarr Farm Inn at Tarr Steps both serve great food and welcome children and dogs. A fish and chip van comes to the village on Wednesday evenings. If you fancy a cooked breakfast without the washing up, head down to the Bridge Cottage Tearoom in the village, which also serves delicious cakes and lunches.
Here are some more recommendations for children, by two girls who have spent many happy holidays in Winsford:
The best things to do in Exmoor:
"I love Withypool. It's a great place to play while adults can relax. I always paddle, swim and catch fish and more!
There are many Easter egg trails at National Trust places such as Dunster Castle and Arlington Court.
Down by the Royal Oak Inn there is a little green with swings. Me and my sister love playing down there. On the edge of the green there is a little river bank which is fun to play on. Also there is a small bridge which is fun to play pooh sticks on."
Emily, aged 7
1. I love to go riding at the Exmoor pony centre. You learn how to groom a horse properly and tack them up!
2. Walking in the woods is also amazing, there's a little path over the road [from the cottage]. Me and my sister love to go paddling in the stream and build dams in the river.
3. Tarr Steps is a little place with a river and stone bridge. By the river there's a small path that leads to what my family calls the money tree. It's a fallen down log that over the years people have slotted coins into so make sure you have some change with you!
4.Down in the village of Winsford there's a green with swings, a pub that does lovely Sunday lunch and a wonderful cafe that is great for grabbing a quick snack or breakfast.
5. Withypool is another great place for paddling. There's shallow and deep areas. The deeper areas are sometimes deep enough to swim in!"
Ava, aged 10.