Chasing chickens on the Devon coast

Life here on the North-Devon coast is all Affinity, Bliss and Grace. They’re the apartments 27 of you can share at Hillcrest Manor, high over the surf-smashed sands of Putsborough Beach. Escape the freestanding baths and chaise longues to whack a ball around the tennis court or watch the kids chase the chickens.

Rock pools, surf and sunsets

Head off to deep, delicious Devon for a break filled with Affinity, Bliss and Grace. They’re the names of the apartments you and your loved ones will share at Hillcrest Manor, high over the golden sands of Putsborough Beach, where the wild waves thrash the north-coast sands.

This is a forgotten world of twisting lanes, village halls and country pubs. Wind your watch back a few decades, and yet be dazzled by the modern décor. Cool and contemporary, this is where freestanding baths meet mullioned windows, and where feature fireplaces sit alongside superfast fibre-optic broadband.

Along with your three apartments, you also get the camper van-style chapel. The net result is four kitchens, huge rooms dripping with character, and space for 27. Kids get a games room, pirate play area and acres of freedom. Grown-ups play in the ballroom with the long table just made for four courses and a fiery brandy or two.

Chat in the snug that’s bathed in the warmth of the family kitchen. Whack a ball around the tennis court. Pack a Pimm’s picnic for the woodlands and Italianate garden. Watch the kids chase the chickens, then make pals with the pigs and goats. Trot down to the beach for rock pools, surf and sunsets. Memories are made of this.

Gardens and grounds

At Hillcrest Manor, the memory reel plays in your head before you ever see it on video. Get your camera ready to catch your kids chasing chickens around the six acres of woodland and the Italianate gardens. Watch them make pals of the pigs and get giddy with the goats. Pack them off to the pirate play area in the woods.

Share a Chablis in the sunshine on the terrace. Feed the barbie with beef and break out a beer. Throw on a cardie at night and chew the fat on the private deck. Smash a ball around the shared tennis court. Repair to the parklands for a Pimm’s. End the night staring at the stars in the outside bath.

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Living spaces

Pick from four properties that all marry traditional elegance with modern comforts. Mullioned windows, high ceilings, feature fireplaces and panelled walls sit alongside superfast fibre-optic broadband, Bluetooth music and flatscreen TVs. Yet traditionalists can still bury their heads in a book and light a log fire.

Keep the kids happy with their very own games room, with table tennis, table football and dolls’ house. Put your feet up in Grace, once the family home, and stretch out among 2000 feet of minimalist elegance. Relax, reset and chat away beneath high ceilings, in front of the working fire. Slide out to your own private courtyard.

Pick Affinity for grandeur, character and space. The kitchen, dining and living space is a monster, perfect for sociable cheffery. Come together beneath high ceilings, amid ancient beams and oak-panel doors. Or just stare at the views from the south-facing stone mullion windows over the formal garden, countryside and coast.

There’s another 2000 square feet in which to chill and sprawl in Bliss. High ceilings, oak-panelled doors and bags of history compete with glorious views from the stone mullion windows. And couples will love the chapel, an amorous hideaway packed with camper-van cool.

Cooking and dining

At Hillcrest Manor, you can eat in the ballroom, a cavernous, butler-friendly space with a table capable of seating a small European country. Cook in the main house kitchen – just pop your roast in the Aga and chat away in the snug as the warmth wafts around the place.

If open-air dining is your thing, pop out to the terrace for a barbie and beers. When you’re done, cafetière coffee should perk you up enough to work it all off with a thrash around the tennis court. Stock up the fridge with fresh fish from Passmores or beef from Reeds, the butcher in Braunton.

Heading out? Options for both posh nosh and simpler, hearty fare are good. There’s a field-to-fork philosophy at The Rock in Georgeham. Tuck in to steak and Doombar Ale pie, Exmouth mussels, Lee-Bay crab, Spreacombe venison or Arlington Farm Lamb. Or enjoy a side order of skittles or shove ha’penny at the Grampus Inn.

Book well ahead for a night at The Olive Room, home of a Michelin star and owned by Nathan Outlaw-trained Thomas Carr. For more fine dining, head to Noel Corsten’s place in Woolacombe, for local ingredients with a Mexican twist. Or keep the kids happy with a children’s high tea at The Watersmeet.

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Bedrooms

Plenty of bedroom options here across all four properties. All of them come under a deep duvet of rural silence broken only by the distant crash of the Atlantic rollers.

Affinity sleeps seven in three bedrooms. Bedroom one is a superking with en-suite. And, with a freestanding bath in the bedroom, you’ll feel like royalty. Bedroom two offers a superking and a single and shares a family bathroom with bedroom three, which comes with twin beds.

Bliss sleeps ten in four bedrooms. En-suite bedroom one offers a kingsize that converts to singles through zip-and-link, and there’s another single. Bedroom two is a kingsize with a shared family shower room, while bedroom three sleeps three in a superking and a single. Superking bedroom four has both shower and bath in the bedroom.

Grace sleeps another nine in four bedrooms: a superking, two twins, and a double and single. Three non-en-suite bedrooms share a family bathroom equipped with bath, toilet and walk-in shower. A lovely mezzanine bedroom in the chapel offers cosy accommodation for a lovestruck couple.

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Kids welcome

Kids’ memories are made of holidays, and kids’ holidays should be made of free-range days with space to run and play. They can do that here while making friends with the chickens, pigs and goats. At day’s end, you can gather round the flatscreen TVs for movie nights, cards or charades.

Other options for exhaustion include the pirate play area and a garden-escape games room, complete with table-tennis table, table football, dolls’ house and toys. For today’s digital kids, there’s superfast fibre-optic broadband on tap and Bluetooth music, too. Bookworms can escape to a cosy fire in a quiet corner.

Outside, the acres of woodland dotted with play equipment and the Italianate gardens make great picnic sites, and somewhere near the games room, there’s all-weather tennis on tap. Whack a ball around the court, kick a football around the lawns. Let them go wild and be the kids they were always meant to be.

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" Everything was perfect - luxury accommodation, peaceful location and a real family feel." - Ellie

Big adventures just over the horizon

Big adventures are just beyond the horizon, with rafting and paddleboarding on Putsborough Beach, or surfing at Croyde. Tackle the Tarka Trail on electric bikes. Meet marmosets and mongooses at Exmoor Zoo. Grown-ups can swing clubs at Saunton or Woolacombe, buy organic from Clovelly Court or shop at Bideford.

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