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3-bed luxury cottage in unspoilt Tarka & War Horse country. Near RHS Rosemoor

Bedrooms 3
Half Baths1
Space 947 sq. ft.
Property type cottage
Minimum Stay 2 nights


About the property

3-bed luxury cottage on Tarka Trail. Views over War Horse Valley to Dartmoor

Old Beams is a luxurious three bedroom cottage in the secluded hamlet of Upcott, which hugs the highest ridge between Dartmoor and Exmoor with panoramic views down the Torridge valley and over the moor. The famous Tarka Trail runs right past the front door, linking Dartmoor to the sea, and you can be hiking on High Willhays or surfing at Saunton Sands within 45 minutes’ drive.

About the cottage:

Old Beams is a mediaeval farmworkers’ cottage, with thick stone walls, oak beams and a huge inglenook fireplace. It was sympathetically restored and extended by my grandparents in the mid-20th century and the house was completely refurbished in 2014, putting in a high-specification kitchen and bathrooms.

The original stone building now contains a large sitting room downstairs with a wood burner and two bedrooms and a family bathroom upstairs. The modern extension adds a ground floor bedroom and a full kitchen (with eye-level oven, microwave, induction hob, larder fridge with ice-box and double sink), utility room (with washing machine and dishwasher) and downstairs cloakroom. All the bedrooms have zip-and-link super-king size beds from Millbrook, who supply hand-made beds for 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, luxury hotels and ocean liners. An independent outbuilding provides a garage and a garden room, with views of Dartmoor. Between the house and outbuilding is a courtyard garden, planted in a country cottage style and furnished with table and chairs, parasol and barbecue. A small field up the lane provides families with space for a kick-around or to walk the dog.

About the local area:

Follow Tarka the Otter south, through the fields and deep lanes all the way to Dartmoor for a swim in Cranmere Pool or just as far as the famous Duke of York pub in the next village of Iddesleigh for a pint of local Otter ale. North on the trail lies Dolton, with its river meadows and bluebell woods along the Torridge itself at Halsdon nature reserve. Here you can see kingfishers, otters and even Rolling Stones drummers: Charlie Watts has lived here since the 1970’s.

Other famous inhabitants include Joey the War Horse, who was born and raised on our cousin’s farm in Iddesleigh, and his biographer, the children’s writer Michael Morpurgo; Ted Hughes, our former neighbour, whose experiences as a local farmer inspired his Moortown Diary and James Ravilious, the photographer, whose work celebrates the unspoilt countryside and timeless villages of deepest Devon. It is the perfect place to get away from it all and not just for writers and artists; the Great Train Robbers infamously hid out nearby in a hotel at Beaford and had the police digging up the local fields looking for their loot!

Activities within a mile of home include fly-fishing on the Torridge, coarse fishing at Stafford Moor fishery, horse riding and, of course, walking (ask us for more details). Our cousin’s farm at Iddesleigh is the original centre for Farms for City Children and has recently opened a War Horse Valley centre, with museums of WWI and rural life and farming, farm machinery exhibits and an opportunity to meet some farm animals, including Joey the war horse. A genuine farmhouse tea is available, in a genuine farmhouse, with scones and clotted cream and jam.

About the wider area:

RHS Rosemoor is a major attraction just 9 miles north (15 minutes’ drive) outside Torrington. Laid out by our friend Lady Anne Berry, she gave the house and garden to the RHS in 1988 to create a “Wisley of the West” and today it attracts nearly 200,000 visitors a year. The 16 hectare site today comprises Lady Anne’s original mid-20th century planting of rare and unusual specimens and a large late-20th century riverside extension of water gardens, parkland garden, meadows and a sequence of formal garden rooms exhibiting various styles of ornamental and productive horticulture. There is also a visitor centre with regular exhibitions and events, a refectory serving local produce and an excellent plant and gift shop. Other attractions at Torrington include the civil war museum (site of an early military disaster when ammunition blew up the local church and the prisoners of war in it), the leper fields and the famous Dartington Glass works, where visitors can tour the production line, watch fine glassware being blown and purchase items at factory prices from the shop on site.

To the south at Okehampton, gateway to the moor, is a great ruined castle, once the largest Norman castle in Devon and home of the Courtenays, the Earls of Devon. To its east at Drewsteignton is Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in Britain in the early 20th century by a retail millionaire and now a National Trust property famous for its gardens and woodland valley walks. Okehampton is also the home of the Dartmoor railway, a preserved railway that runs regular services to Exeter daily in summer, some under steam. The wider area is also comically rich in off-beat museums like Barometer World (Merton), the Gnome Reserve (Bradworthy), the Combat Collection of army vehicles (Cobbaton) and the Quince honey farm (South Molton); the last also has a children’s soft-play barn with slides and climbing frames etc.

To the north, at the mouth of the Torridge, lies Bideford, Charles Kingsley’s “little white town that slopes upwards from its broad tide” with its a famous mediaeval Long Bridge over the river. Bideford is a departure point for ferries to Lundy. Beyond Bideford, major attractions include the Big Sheep at Westward Ho! and the Milky Way at Clovelly to the west, which are sheep and dairy theme parks respectively with amusement rides, children’s activities, petting zoos and even sheep racing. Clovelly itself is a charming cliff-side fishing village, one of the postcard views in Devon, and Westward Ho! is a kiss-me-quick seaside resort, famous for its punctuation and its spectacular pebble ridge separating the beach from a first class golf links on Northam Burrows, where the hazards include sheep and ponies as well as bunkers. Beyond Clovelly lies Hartland, remote even by the standards of Devon and infamous for its twisted cliffs and shipwrecks. Sense and Sensibility was filmed at Hartland Abbey, with its secret valley to the sea.

The southwest coastal path connects Bideford to Clovelly and Hartland in the west and to Barnstaple, Braunton and the surfing beaches of Saunton, Woolacombe and Croyde in the east. There is a cycle track from Meeth, just across the Torridge from Old Beams, which follows the trackbed of the old railway down the Torridge to Bideford via Torrington and around the estuary to Barnstaple and Braunton. The first section from Meeth to Torrington is unsealed and requires a mountain bike but the section from Torrington is metalled. The cycle track connects to the coastal footpath at Bideford and Barnstaple.

More Details

Richard Hadden
Member since: 2014
Speaks: french, german, spanish
Response time:
Within 2 days
Response rate:
Calendar last updated:
September 21, 2018

About Richard Hadden

We run a small family estate in Devon, with local roots back to the 13th Century.

Why Richard Hadden chose Dowland

Old Beams is a mediaeval farmworkers' cottage on the edge of our farm, Pewson Barton. It was rescued and restored by my grandparents in the mid-20th century. We have recently refurbished it as a luxury holiday let.

Guestbook comments from the owner

We had a lovely stay thank you!!
Aug 2014
  • 1 of 1


Dowland Cottage Accommodation and Amenities

Property Type:
  • cottage
  • Guests provide their own meals
  • Housekeeper Optional
Floor Area:
  • 947 sq. ft.
House Rules:
  • Max. occupancy: 6
  • pets considered ...
  • Events Allowed
  • children welcome ...
  • non smoking only
Location Type:
  • Rural
  • Away From It All
  • Family
  • Farm Holidays
  • Romantic
  • Tourist Attractions
  • Fireplace ...
  • Garage ...
  • Hair Dryer
  • Heating ...
  • Internet ...
  • Iron & Board
  • Linens Provided ...
  • Living Room ...
  • Parking
  • Telephone
  • Towels Provided ...
  • Washing Machine ...
  • Wood Stove ...
  • Dishes & Utensils ...
  • Dishwasher ...
  • Kitchen ...
  • Microwave ...
  • Oven ...
  • Pantry Items ...
  • Refrigerator ...
  • Stove ...
  • Toaster ...
  • Child's Highchair
  • Dining ...
  • Dining Area
  • seating for 6 people
  • 1 Bathroom
  • 1 Half Bath
  • Bathroom 1 - toilet , combination tub/shower
    Bathroom 2 - toilet
  • Family bathroom. Full-size bath + electric shower with glass screen. WC. Heated, illuminated shaving mirror and shaver power point. Basin.
  • 3 Bedrooms, Sleeps 6
  • Bedroom 3 (ground floor, off sitting room) - 2 twin/ single , (Zip and link twin, can be made up a superking size double)
    Bedroom 2 (first floor, south) - 1 king , (Superkingsize bed - zip and link, can be made up as a twin)
    Bedroom 1 (first floor, north) - 1 king , Zip and link twin, can be made up as a superking
  • DVD Player
  • Games
  • Stereo
  • Television
  • Toys
  • Video Library
  • Deck / Patio ...
  • Lawn / Garden ...
  • Outdoor Furniture
  • Outdoor Grill
  • Porch / Veranda ...
  • Yard
  • Long-term Renters Welcome
  • wheelchair inaccessible ...
  • arboretum
  • autumn foliage
  • botanical garden
  • churches
  • forests
  • library
  • live theater
  • museums
  • playground
  • pond
  • restaurants
  • ruins
Leisure Activities:
  • bird watching
  • eco tourism
  • horseback riding
  • scenic drives
  • sight seeing
  • walking
Local Services & Businesses:
  • ATM/bank
  • groceries
Sports & Adventure Activities:
  • cycling
  • equestrian events
  • fishing
  • fly fishing
  • freshwater fishing
  • golf
  • hiking
  • mountain biking
  • paragliding
  • tennis
Tarka trail footpath runs outside front gate south to Iddesleigh (home of Joey the War Horse) and the famous Duke of York pub and beyond to Dartmoor; north along green lane to Dowland and on to Torrington and Exmoor. Guests may walk across owner's farm (adjacent). The River Torridge and Halsdon nature reserve are a few miles away; the Tarka cycle path along disused railway to Torrington, Bideford, Barnstaple and the North Devon beaches starts at Meeth, just over the river. RHS Rosemoor is fifteen minutes drive away. Ted Hughes's old farm, Moortown, and Michael Morpurgo's house are close by.


Excellent! 4.4/5 -
(34 traveler reviews)

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3-bed luxury cottage in unspoilt Tarka & War Horse country. Near RHS Rosemoor
average rating of 4.4117646 based on 35 reviews


  • 5 of 5

To anyone thinking of renting this property for your holiday do not hesitate it is by far the most charming and comfortable place we have ever stayed ( the bed's are the best we have ever slept in). The Kitchen is very well equipped with everything you will ever need most certainly home from home. You can really tell that Richard cares about making your holiday the best you have ever had. The entire cottage was pristine and very well maintained inside and the garden's are very well managed. The road leading to the village/cottage are typical of Devon very narrow and are single track but by taking care they are not a problem. All in all we had a lovely holiday made even more lovely by staying at Old Beam's.

  • Submitted: Aug 5, 2017
  • Stayed: July 2017
  • Source: Owners Direct, from HomeAway
Owner's Response: Mandy, thank you very much for the kind review! We are really glad you had such a great time and appreciated the cottage and the area. We look forward to having you back in future.
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A little gem! cosy & peaceful

  • 5 of 5

This was an ideal location for us to explore the surrounding areas. The owners showed a keen interest in making our stay a comfortable one, they always followed up messages. We loved the walk down 'tarka trail' and also tried the local pub where Michael Morpurgo was inspired to write 'War Horse'.

A very pleasant stay at a very pleasant cottage.

I would love to return!

  • Submitted: Aug 13, 2018
  • Stayed: July 2018
  • Source: HomeAway
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Not what we booked

  • 1 of 5

We were put in the Sages House not the Old Beams. Very disappointed with the house. We booked a lovely refurbished cottage and got a extremely shabby run down house. Only one toilet in the house’ a shower room and a room with a bath. There was a what was supposed to be a wet room in a sun room,both of which were dirty full of clutter and spiders. Non of the electrical appliances were PAT tested. We were promised at least 2 bath rooms.

Having said all that we had clean comfortable beds. Pleanty of lovely clean towels and lots of hot water.

Don’t think HomeAway new about the change of booking.

  • Submitted: Jun 19, 2018
  • Stayed: June 2018
  • Source: Owners Direct, from HomeAway
Owner's Response: ** PLEASE NOTE: this review is NOT of Old Beams - the guests were offered Sages after Old Beams was affected by a flood. Other guests loved the upgrade! ** This is the only 1* review we have ever received. De gustibus non est disputandum but, for prospective guests, we wish to put some facts of the properties on record even if tastes differ. The guests wrote: "We were put in the Sages House not the Old Beams. Very disappointed with the house. We booked a lovely refurbished cottage and got a extremely shabby run down house. Only one toilet in the house’ a shower room and a room with a bath." This is half true. Old Beams is a small cottage in a remote hamlet with 8 rooms - 2 bedrooms & a bathroom upstairs, a single large reception room, bedroom, kitchen, utility room and loo downstairs. Outside is a courtyard rear garden laid to gravel and a small front garden with grass. Sages is a 13-room property, occupying half of a Grade 2 listed Regency villa in the heart of a village. Not counting a grand hallway with split staircase and the various corridors, it has upstairs 3 bedrooms, a nursery room (adjacent to the master bedroom), bathroom, shower room, separate loo and downstairs 2 reception rooms (large sitting room and dining room), eat-in kitchen with Rayburn, scullery, sun-room and a downstairs wet room (loo + shower). Outside is a private front garden with verandah, private walled side garden off sun room and use of several acres of communal back garden and paddock. Sages is a much loved, much lived in family home. It is a bit scuffed around the edges and there are some places where the paint and plaster is chipped. It is nevertheless clean and everything is in working order (except the damper on the bottom Bb on the piano my great-grandmother bought with her egg money). It is a country house, not a minimalist machine for living. "There was a what was supposed to be a wet room in a sun room,both of which were dirty full of clutter and spiders. Non of the electrical appliances were PAT tested. We were promised at least 2 bath rooms. "Having said all that we had clean comfortable beds. Pleanty of lovely clean towels and lots of hot water. Don’t think HomeAway new about the change of booking." New cleaners had missed the sunroom and downstairs bathroom. We can only apologise again. If you had raised this in our welcome call or interim call, we could have sent them back to fix it but there were still two *other* bathrooms in any reasonable sense.
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We had a fabulous week in a beautiful house. As much room as we could ever have wished for.

  • 5 of 5

Everything we needed was provided. Bedrooms and bath/shower rooms were excellent. So convenient for all the local amenities. Masses of parking spaces. Just lovely and would highly recommend.

  • Submitted: Jun 9, 2018
  • Stayed: June 2018
  • Source: HomeAway
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  • 5 of 5

Unfortunately to winter flooding at the property the owner of the property offered us a alternative rental he owned at the Sages in Dolton village. The whole process and communication from the owner was brilliant. The owner informed us of the problem around 6 weeks before and was in constant contact to ensure everything was ok. Loved our stay.

  • Submitted: May 20, 2018
  • Stayed: May 2018
  • Source: HomeAway
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Attractively furnished with everything you might need .

  • 4 of 5

Much better inside than it looked outside on a cold, wet, winters day! Only criticism was felt quite cold on arrival but felt very cosy once we had lit the fire! Stayed there for Christmas and particularly appreciated the effort that had been made to make it feel festive. Thoroughly enjoyed our stay and would definitely recommend it.

  • Submitted: Jan 6, 2018
  • Stayed: December 2017
  • Source: HomeAway
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Nearest Airport
30 Miles
Exeter Airport
Nearest Barpub
1 Miles
Duke of York, Iddesleigh
Nearest Ferry
50 Miles
Nearest Train
28 Miles
Exeter St Davids
Nearest Motorway
15 Miles
A30 (Whiddon Down)
Nearest Restaurant
1 Miles
Duke of York, Iddesleigh
Nearest Beach
20 Miles
Saunton Sands
Car: necessary

Rural Devon


Rates & Availability

Taxes and fees are additional

Additional information about rental rates

Cleaning Fee $71.66
Refundable Damage Deposit $398.09

For transparency, we offer you the same price per night whether you book a long or short stay and we charge an additional cleaning fee for short stays (<1 week).
Changeover day is Friday but we are happy to consider shorter or longer bookings. Please contact the owner directly to discuss. Refundable damage bond required for all bookings. Pets only accepted by negotiation, additional deposit may be required.

Owner's Cancellation Policy

Please ask the owner or check their rental agreement when booking the property.

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