Exmoor Somerset & Devon Garden Tour
There are gardens galore to explore, each with their own style and character. Uncover a series of magical gardens at RHS Rosemoor with over 4,000 different plants, while the gardens at Forde Abbey feature the tallest powered fountain in the UK. Enjoy the variety of Hestercombe’s garden – a Georgian park-like garden of Grecian temples, follies and vistas and the various ‘rooms’ of Medieval Cothay Manor’s gardens, accessed via a Yew walk. There’s also the kitchen garden of Barrington Court and the walled garden of Cannington to enjoy.
- Rosemoor, the RHS "Wisley of the west"
- Cothay Manor, coloured-themes and extensive herbaceous borders
- Hestercombe boasts two distinctly different gardens: one a classic Georgian park-like garden of Grecian temples, follies and vistas; the other, the masterpiece resulting from the association of Gertrude
- Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens
- High quality Full Board en-suite accommodation and excellent food in our Country House
- The guidance and services of our knowledgeable HF Holidays’ leader, ensuring you get the most from your holiday
- All transport to and from gardens on a comfortable, good-quality mini-coach with PA system
- All garden admissions costs. For Garden Tours, National Trust, English Heritage and RHS admissions are not included.
- Heritage gardens(please note this does not include entrance to stately homes/houses, for which there is a separate admission fee)
Check-in starts from 2.30pm (Best and Better rooms from 1pm). All guests are invited to join us for afternoon tea where we’ll introduce your leader.
We’ll explore the walled gardens of Cannington near Bridgwater, which is managed by the horticultural students of Bridgewater College. These are charming gardens offering diverse plantings and glasshouses. Then we’ll visit the wonderfully restored gardens of Hestercombe. Here Sir Edwin Lutyens created a new formal garden. He also worked with Gertrude Jekyll and this is considered to be one of the finest examples of their collaborated work.
The gardens of Ford Abbey, a former Cistercian abbey, are extensive, yet laid out in an informal style. Here, the tallest powered fountain in the country is a spectacular centre piece. Then we’ll discover the kitchen garden of Barrington Court (National Trust), near IIminster, which has been in constant use for over 60 years. Gertrude Jekyll was in her late 70’s with very poor eyesight when she submitted plans for this garden, which is often considered to be one of her finest.
A free day for you to explore the local area or to relax in the Country House
No visit to North Devon would be complete without visiting the magnificent 65–acre RHS garden, Rosemoor. Lady Anne Palmer inherited the garden in 1931 and she described it as dull and labour intensive. However, as her interest in horticulture developed she collected a wonderful diverse collection of plant material, with over 4,000 plants represented in Lady Anne’s Garden.
Knightshayes Court, just north of Tiverton, is claimed to be one of the best displayed plant collections within the National Trust gardens, with over 1,200 plant species. One of the highlights is a 4–acre walled kitchen garden producing organic produce. Then we’ll see the mediaeval manor of Cothay, often described as “The Sissinghurst of the West”. There are 12 acres of magical romantic gardens to explore, all set out in a series of rooms.
Our last morning is spent in the magnificent 200-acre Marwood Hill Gardens, created by the late Dr James Smart in 1949. This garden has featured on many television programmes over the years. Our final garden is Castle Hill – it’s full of vistas and follies. The approach to the house is via the Millennium Garden, a double herbaceous border designed by a former Chelsea Gold Medallist, Xa Tollemache.
Depart after a leisurely breakfast.
Lying near the attractive village of Selworthy, in the heart of the Exmoor National Park, historic Holnicote House stands within a series of peaceful gardens with spreading lawns. Once the centrepiece of an extensive 12,500 acre estate, the charming and characterful house was gifted to the National Trust in 1944. Since then it has been reimagined as a walkers’ retreat, with wonderful access to the countryside. As well as 32 delightful bedrooms, there are two comfortable lounges and a sociable bar. The landscaped gardens are still part of the wider Holnicote Estate and provide a wonderful area to wander. Outside the house, explore wild Exmoor, walk in the Quantocks, climb Dunkery Beacon and stroll on the Somerset Coast Path with the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, drop in Dunster Castle, ride a Victorian cliff railway and watch for wildlife including the majestic red stags.
Tea & coffee-making facilities, TV, Hairdryer, Toiletries, Wi-Fi
Stay in one of the main building’s bright, beautifully presented rooms or in the thatched cottages in the grounds, called Butlers and Guns respectively. With 32 bedrooms, Holnicote House has plenty of space and there’s a range of Good, Better and Best Rooms to choose from: best rooms are on the first floor and decorated in keeping with the National Trust estate, with plenty of space and great views over the back garden, reaching out across Crawter Hill and Dunkery Hill, Somerset and Exmoor’s highest point. Ask for numbers 1, 4 or 9 to feel suitably special.
All ‘Good’ rooms are ensuite and furnished to a high standard. There are also several ‘Better’ and ‘Best’ Rooms that are either larger or have a desirable view, a more luxurious mattress, larger television, enhanced toiletries and a fluffy bathrobe & slippers – upgrade your stay for just an extra £15-20 per person per night. You can choose a specific room for an extra £30 per room, subject to availability. Upgrade supplements still apply.
Free Wi-Fi, boot room and drying room, attractive garden, outdoor swimming pool, multi-purpose activity room, lounge, library and board games to borrow
After a day walking on Exmoor or exploring the heath and moorland, come back to the house and its specially tailored walkers’ facilities. Relax by sitting in the pretty gardens or challenge a fellow guest to a game of croquet. Take a dip in the large heated outdoor pool. For something less strenuous, snag a comfy chair in one of the cosy lounges, borrow a book, join a game of cards or scour the countryside through the large telescope. Head to the bar before dinner for a drink and a chance to catch up with your companions, best enjoyed by the windows overlooking the estate.
Food & Drink
As at all our country houses, holidays are full board, from afternoon tea served as a welcome treat through that evening’s meal to a hearty breakfast on the day of departure. Lunch is a chance to stock up on our famous picnic snacks. Food at Holnicote House is hearty and has a strong emphasis on ingredients from the area and seasonal produce. Once a week the wood panelled dining room with its giant fireplace hosts a Local Food Night, when, over a sociable evening, you might try classic Porlock oysters or Priddy Oggies, a local pasty of chicken, bacon and cheese. Mains might include Exmoor venison or Bellbrook valley trout, while you could cap it all with a Somerset apple cake, dressed with cream.
For accessibility and assistance information, please contact our expert team on 020 3974 8865
What to Bring
As you'll be walking around the gardens please bring stout, comfortable footwear for rough, wet or uneven terrain in gardens, and clothes for the great British weather!
Nigel Cox is currently head of RHS horticulture at Bridgwater & Taunton College where he was until recently Curriculum Manager for land based courses both full and part time in horticulture, arboriculture and countryside management. He has been teaching at Cannington for some 15 years. He is a qualified garden designer and acts as a consultant to the growing media industry. In addition he is a professional associate with the RHS where he is an examiner, centre auditor, quality assurer as well as teaching science and plant health to the RHS students at RHS Rosemoor. Nigel is also involved on several expert panels on horticulture and education, gives regular talks to local garden clubs and judges at local flower shows.
All holidays are subject to availability and prices are subject to change.
Non-member fee: £10 per person.
|Date (Start - End)||Nights||Itinerary||Price||Status||Trip Notes||Book|
16 May - 23 May
|7||Garden Tour||£999 £959||Save £40 Per Person||Trip Notes||Book Now|
26 May - 02 Jun
|7||Garden Tour||£999 £959||Save £40 Per Person||Trip Notes||Book Now|
7 nights from £999pp £959pp
...or call 020 3974 8865