North Devon Gardens Tour



Print page

Activity types:

  • Flora
  • Hills & moorland
  • Rural peace
From £960.00 - 7 nights


Prices are per person

Room 1:
Room 2:
Room 3:

Holiday overview

The milder climate of the West Country supports an abundance of plant growth, including subtropical species. As well as splendid coastal scenery there are some fabulous gardens to be visited. Devon and Somerset together is classic "Village England" with both rustic cottages and grand estates, both old and new.

Holiday highlights:

  • 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

Great reasons to join us:

  • Great value: all prices include Full Board en-suite accommodation, plus entrances to all gardens
  • Expert leader: we carefully select friendly and knowledgeable leaders for each holiday
  • Accommodation: enjoy high-quality accommodation and excellent food at Holnicote House
  • Sociability: we pride ourselves on the social atmosphere of our holidays – enjoy gardens together, eat together and relax together



As a historic National Trust property, Holnicote House is full of charm and character. Located on the   4-star Visit Britain Guest Accommodationextensive 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.

Our classic bedrooms offer comfortable accommodation and an en-suite bathroom with bath or shower. They also have TV, hairdryer, and tea and coffee making facilities. Single rooms are available for an extra £8 per night.

You can enjoy extra space or exceptional views plus additional facilities including a towelling robe and complimentary slippers when you upgrade to a premium bedroom. Premium rooms are available at just £5 extra per person per night.    

If you are travelling with your family, we have a selection of 3 and 4-bedded family bedrooms. These have all the facilities of our classic rooms plus full sized twin or double beds for adults and bunk beds or occasional beds for children.


Back to top

All our Country Houses are tailored to the needs of walkers and outdoor enthusiasts and have excellent boot and drying rooms.

There are two comfortable lounges, dining room and an attractive bar. The ballroom is a flexible space which can be used for dancing or for a variety of leisure activity holidays. Free WiFi is available in some public rooms. There is also a range of board games and books.

The heated outdoor swimming pool (open May to September) is always popular with our guests. There's also a croquet lawn.

The gardens are particularly extensive and form part of the wider Holnicote Estate.


Back to top

All holidays at our Country Houses are Full Board with all meals included, from dinner on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure.

Visit England Breakfast Award logo at HF HolidaysStart your day with our extensive breakfast. Choose from a wide selection on the cold buffet and/or a full cooked breakfast. Maybe enjoy a lighter option of fruit and yoghurt followed by scrambled egg, go for porridge followed by a full English breakfast, or select something in between.

Choose from our famous self-select picnic lunches - everything you need to keep you going on a day outdoors. Your own choice of sandwiches is prepared to order, and you can add crisps and snacks, fruit, nuts, chocolate bars, sweets and biscuits as you wish.     

Our house-based Leisure Activities include an in-house lunch (generally soup, sandwiches etc).   

The relaxed dinner is a highlight of any stay at our Country Houses. With tables seating up to 10 and no seating plan, it offers a great opportunity to get to know your fellow guests. There is always a choice of dishes for every course, featuring good British cooking and often local specialities. A vegetarian option is always available.

All our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.

Back to top

Guided Walking: enjoy a glass of wine or local beer in the bar before a talk about the next day's walks. After dinner there will be an activity or entertainment which you will be welcome to join. These vary from week to week but could include a talk on local wildlife from a local speaker or a team quiz. Alternatively if you prefer, feel free to just relax in our lounge or bar.

Leisure Activities: many of our Leisure Activities holidays continue into the evening with programmed sessions. Other holidays will have the evenings free, and you will be welcome to join in other social activities that may be happening in the house.

Family holidays: our activity leaders are on hand to organise children’s activities and games for younger children before dinner. These could include rounders, outdoor games, or crafts. After dinner there are further activities for the whole family.

Self-Guided Walking: there may be evening social activities happening in the house during your holiday, and you will be most welcome to join in. However, not all self-guided holidays will have evening activities available – if these are important to you, please check before booking.

Back to top

Arrival & car parking facilities

  • On arrival there is a level driveway with two speed bumps with ample parking on both sides of the drive
  • The surface of the driveway is gravel
  • It is possible to load and unload cars directly at the front door
  • There is 1 dedicated disabled parking bays
  • Assistance can be provided with luggage 

Main entrance & reception

  • The main entrance has 1 step (9cm high) and is 123cm wide. There is a ramp available on request for the side entrance
  • The front door is locked during the night, but access is available via the boot room (with a digital door code)
  • If accessing from the boot room, there are 2 steps up to the ground floor. The steps are 20cm and 34cm high and both are 133cm wide. Wooden handrail on both sides of the steps
  • After entering the house, all the facilities are available without encountering any further steps, with the exception of the boot room (details above) or the ballroom, which is accessed via 3 steps. These steps are each 15cm high, 36cm deep and 125cm wide. Wooden handrail on both sides of the steps
  • There are several floor coverings on the ground floor, mainly carpet, but also some nonslip safety flooring and original quarry tiles by the tradesman's entrance (the side entrance). The ballroom has wooden block flooring 

Public areas - hall, stairs, landing, corridors etc

  • All internal doors are 66cm wide (except where separate measurements have been given)
  • The minimum width of the corridor is 126cm
  • The floor surface on the stairs and upstairs corridors is short pile carpet. Ground floor corridor is non-slip flooring 

Public areas - lounges

  • The ground floor has 2 lounges, a dining room, a bar and a ballroom and a boot room
  • The larger lounge (4.6m x 12m) is carpeted with plenty of seating (bucket chairs are 45cm high, settees 43cm high and the tables are 68cm in diameter, 72cm high). Door width 92cm
  • Smaller lounge (8m x 7.5m). Bucket chairs are 47cm high, settees 37cm high and number of tables 39-48cm high. Door width 1m
  • The ballroom (8m x 4.9m) is and has wood block flooring
  • All furniture is easily movable 

Public WCs

  • There are 2 unisex toilets on the ground floor opposite the bar
  • Minimum door width 80cm. Toilet heights are 40cm and 42cm
  • Approximate room sizes are 1.22m x 1.37m for the first toilet and 1.22m x 2.57m for the second one 

Dining room & bar

  • The carpeted dining room (6m x 10m including Roman end) is situated on the ground floor with level access. Door width 94cm
  • 6 round tables, each seating maximum of 10 guests
  • Tables have an under space of 73cm high by 150cm wide. Each table has 4 legs 20cm away from the round edge
  • The chairs do not have arms. The seats are 46cm high
  • Waitress service
  • Special diets catered for, but should be advised pre or on arrival
  • The carpeted bar area is 3.6m x 4.9m. Door width 66cm. Built-in benches (47cm high) around the room seat 13 people. Various stools (51cm-75 cm high) and 5 circular tables (72cm high) 


There are no dedicated disabled rooms, the room best suited for anyone with restricted mobility is room 22.

Other bedrooms

  • The rest of the rooms are a mixture of single, twin and double rooms, located either in the main house, Guns Cottage, Butlers Cottage or Chalets. In the main house the bedrooms are on the first and second floor only
  • The staircase is 106cm wide. There are 15 steps to the first floor landing (bedrooms 6 to 21), with another 3 steps to bedrooms 1 to 5. Each step is 17cm high, 29cm deep and 106cm wide
  • Most of the bedrooms are en-suite with shower. Some rooms only have a wash basin, there are public bathrooms available 

Outdoor facilities

  • Large extensive gardens, which include orchard, herb garden, flower borders and trellis enclosed pool area
  • A bench, garden chairs and loungers are available
  • Garden is fairly level, with tarmac pathways. Easy access
  • The outdoor swimming pool is available from May to September. The pool size is 12m x 6m plus the Roman end which has 5cm x 5cm deep steps
  • The pool does not have an attendant and is currently not equipped with aids to assist entry
  • Within the pool area there is an alarm, first aid post, rescue hook and a life buoy 

Additional information

  • 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


Saturday: Arrival day

You can check in to your room from 2.30pm onwards. Please join us for afternoon tea at 4pm. All guests are invited – we’ll introduce your leader and welcome you to your holiday.

Sunday: 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.

Monday: For 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.

Tuesday: 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.

Wednesday: Free Day

A free day for you to explore the local area or to relax in the Country House

Thursday: 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.

Friday: 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.

Saturday: 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.



Local area

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:

Thatched cottage in Selworthy villageSelworthy Village
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. 

Green steam locomotive on West Somerset RailwayWest 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.


Dunster Castle and its surrounding parklandDunster Castle

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.


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.

Coleridge Cottage
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.

Hestercombe Gardens
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.

Exterior of Arlington Court National Trust houseArlington Court
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.


Holnicote House, Selworthy, Minehead, Somerset TA24 8TJ

By train: The nearest railway station is at Taunton. For train times and general rail enquiries visit or call 03457 484950 (from outside the UK call +44 20 7278 5240).

By taxi: The 29 mile journey from Taunton railway station takes approximately 50 minutes (please allow up to an extra 30 minutes for a weekday transfer). Taxis cost approx £56 per taxi. Every year we negotiate a pre-booked rate for these journeys. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. We recommend pre-booking your taxi and the taxi company will arrange shared taxis wherever possible. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Holnicote House Manager.

By bus: There are buses which will take you from Taunton to Minehead, and then change to continue onto Selworthy Turn which is the bus stop at the bottom of the drive of Holnicote House. Alternatively pre-book a taxi from Minehead; the 4½ mile journey will cost you approx £10 from our recommended taxi provider.

By car: 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.

To help you plan your journey, use


Jim Hart

Jim is a professional horticulturist with more than 35 years experience, working in local authority parks departments and commercial nurseries, in Britain and abroad.  For more than 15 years he was a lecturer in plant production and landscape management. He has also run his own nursery and landscape design business. Jim combines visiting gardens and plant spotting with hiking and sightseeing in various countries. Jim leads Walking, Discovery and Garden Tours in Europe, and Garden Tours in the UK.


Date & Rating Customer Review HF Holidays says
20 Jul 2016, 9:42 a.m.

Service rating:


Product rating:


Service review:

Well organised overall, some minor points on room maintenance

Product review:

Selworthy is a good centre to explore.
5 Aug 2015, 7:51 a.m.

Service rating:


Product rating:


Service review:

Great company. Have used them many times.

Product review:

Everything was excellent except for the evening meals. Some were good, some not good.
13 Aug 2014, 11:23 p.m.

Service rating:


Product rating:


Service review:

No review provided

Product review:

Our garden week was well planned and much enjoyed

Dates & Prices

Date Description Nights Brochure price Buy today for Book
15 Jul 2017 SLGDT - North Devon Garden Tours - Selworthy 7 £1,035.00 £960.00 Special Early Booking offer - £75.00 off pp Book Now

Prices are per person


  • Standard single room: (2016) £8 per night; (2017) no supplement
  • Premium single room: £15 per night (2017 only)
  • Premium twin/double room: (2016) £5 per person per night; (2017) £10 per person per night
  • Non-member associate fee: (2016) £5 per person; (2017) £10 per person

Sign up for our newsletter

Our newsletters are a great way to receive special offers, inspiring articles, stories and news from HF Holidays.

To subscribe, please enter your email address below and click 'submit'.

We won't pass your details on to any third party unless we have your express permission, you are free to unsubscribe at any time.