Exmoor Somerset & Devon Garden Tour
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Hills & moorland
Subtropical plants are at home in the mild West Country climate, adding vibrancy to the stunning coastline. From beautiful RHS Rosemoor to Cothay Manor’s herbaceous borders, you’ll find something to delight. Enjoy the variety of Hestercombe’s garden –Georgian park-like garden of Grecian temples, follies and vistas, and a masterpiece created by Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens.
- 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 essential transport to and from gardens on a comfortable, good-quality mini-coach with PA system
- All garden admissions costs with the exception of National Trust and English Heritage gardens (please note this does not include entrance to stately homes/houses, for which there is a separate admission fee)
As a historic National Trust property, Holnicote House is full of charm and character. Located on the extensive Holnicote Estate, at the foot of Exmoor, it is well suited to a relaxing holiday.
Holnicote House has 32 newly refurbished bedrooms. Some are located in the main house, with others in the thatched cottages, called Butlers and Guns, in the grounds.
These rooms are all ensuite and furnished to a good standard. They include:
These rooms are slightly larger and/or have a better view. They include:
Only an extra £15 per person per night
These rooms truly are the best in the house for extra luxury during your stay. They include:
Only an extra £20 per person per night
Choose Your Room: Our new “Choose Your Room” service is available at our UK country houses, providing the option to choose and confirm a specific room for an extra £30 per room. Supplements to upgrade to 'Better' or 'Best' rooms still apply. The choice of room number must be of the same room type as originally booked and is subject to availability.
At the house
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
√ Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.
- Fire procedure is displayed in each room and explained to guests on arrival. Guests requiring assistance at an evacuation are identified at this time and door hanger cards are issued
- Mobile phone reception is generally good from the main building
- Assistance dogs accompanying visually or hearing impaired guests are welcome; dogs must be kept on a lead or harness at all times
- Information can be provided in large print
- Staff have received disability awareness training
- Special diets can be catered for. Specialist food can be obtained with prior notice
- Fridge for medication can be supplied
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.
Canning Walled Gardens & Hestercombe
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.
Ford Abbey & Barrington Court
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
RHS Rosemoor – all-day adventure
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.
Gothic Knightshayes Court & Mediaeval Cothay Manor
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.
Marwood Hill Gardens & Castle Hill Garden
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.
Sometimes things happen beyond our control – the weather, traffic jams or changes at the places we visit. If we need to adjust your holiday programme, for whatever reason, your leader will help smooth the way.
During your stay at Holnicote House you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest, either in your free time, or on your journey to and from Selworthy:
Less than a mile from Holnicote House is Selworthy village. At first glance the thatched cottages seem typical of many ancient settlements in this area. However, Selworthy is not as old as it looks, having been rebuilt in 1828 by Sir Thomas Acland. Sir Thomas was a philanthropist and designed the 'model' village himself to provide housing for the aged and infirm of the estate. He used traditional designs and materials to create a deliberately old-fashioned village.
West Somerset Railway
Travel on Britain’s longest steam railway from Minehead to Bishops Lydyard. Now lovingly restored by volunteers, the line recreates a classic Great Western Railway branch line with steam trains operating daily from April to October. Minehead station is 10 minutes' drive from Selworthy, or can be reached on the number 300 bus. www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk
An historic castle transformed into a comfortable stately home for the Luttrell family. Some highlights include the 'modern' 1950s kitchen and the snooker room. Dunster Castle sits in extensive gardens, complete with its working watermill. The adjacent town of Dunster is full of character and also well worth a visit. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunster-castle
Lynton & Lynmouth
The quaint Victorian town of Lynton sits high on a hill, overlooking the coast and Lynmouth harbour. The two settlements are connected by the historic cliff railway. The short walk from Lynton to the Valley of Rocks is highly recommended.
The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) and his wife Sara lived in the village of Nether Stowey, about 45 minutes' drive from Selworthy, from 1796 to 1799. In 1909 it was acquired by the National Trust, and later restored and opened to the public. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coleridge-cottage
Hestercombe Gardens, around an hour's drive away near Taunton, were constructed in three periods - a landscape garden from the 1750s, a Victorian terrace and shrubbery from the 1870s, and Edwardian gardens of 1904-1908 designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. www.hestercombe.com
Arlington Court, about an hour's drive away near Barnstaple is a fine Regency house set in an extensive estate. The grounds include a formal Victorian garden whilst the stables house the National Trust’s carriage collection of over fifty horse-drawn vehicles. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/arlington-court
Travel to Holnicote House
Our address is: Holnicote House, Selworthy, Minehead, Somerset TA24 8TJ
The nearest railway station is at Taunton. For train times and route planning by train visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or phone 03457 48 49 50.
The 29 mile journey from Taunton railway station takes approximately 50 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £56 per taxi. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The taxi company will arrange shared taxis wherever possible. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Holnicote House Manager.
The number 28 bus operates between Taunton station and Minehead. At Minehead change for the number 10 bus that will take you to the Selworthy turn (which is at the end of Holnicote House drive). A 2 minute walk along the drive will bring you to the house. Alternatively pre-book a taxi from Minehead; the 4½ mile journey will cost you approx £10 from our recommended taxi provider. For bus times see www.traveline.info
From Bridgewater take the A39 though the southern outskirts of Minehead towards Porlock. Holnicote House is on the left about 4½ miles out of Minehead, and about ¾ mile after the signpost to Luccombe (do not follow the signs to Selworthy). After the Selworthy Village sign look out for our sign 500 yards further on, on the left. Free car parking is available in the grounds.
Travelling from Overseas
For most guests, travelling to London Heathrow airport is the most convenient option.
From Heathrow first take the train to London Paddington station. From here there are direct trains to Taunton. Its a relatively straightforward journey - allow 2½ hours. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
Bristol Airport may also be convenient for some guests. Take the train to Taunton
From Taunton you can travel on to Selworthy by bus or taxi (see above).
Wendy Tolson started her career in design with her wedding gown business “Golly Gosh!” based in the Malvern Hills. Some of her designs are exhibited at the National Fashion Museum in Bath. Wendy then turned her eye to garden design and studied and worked at Sparsholt Agricultural College. More recently Wendy qualified as a teacher and has taught Garden Design and Horticulture at various colleges. Now retired and living in Somerset, Wendy is pursuing various horticultural volunteering opportunities.
Well planned visits, very knowledgeable leader, did not overwhelm us with information but always ready to give more if you asked questions. Allowed time to explore alone but was there for guests who wanted more guidance.
Dates & Prices
We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.
Prices are per person
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person