Vineyard Farmhouse was once owned by renowned explorer John Davis, who sailed the Northwest Passage and discovered the Falkland Islands. Today, it’s home to a dozen family and friends whose idea of discovery is finding a nice crisp white from the on-site vineyard, winery and shop.
There’s plenty more to discover, here, of course. Like the rural views down to Devon’s River Dart, the balcony from the main living area from which to watch the river roll by, the peaceful drawing room with glowing fire, walks around the estate, and a little showstopping entertainment that might have kept Mr Davis at home.
Cook on the Aga and electric oven and grill, or eat out in Circa, the on-site restaurant. Eat all together in the oaky dining room, or out in the south-coast sunshine, with wine from the estate. Magic up a movie night in the TV room and bring your Netflix password. Discover what being together again feels like.
Here in South Devon, with the house frontage sloping away toward the banks of the Dart, you’re truly part of the countryside. Part of a working vineyard and winery, the house and its grounds invite lengthy strolls around the estate before dinner in the on-site restaurant.
There’s river access from the site through the half-acre of grounds that come dotted with ponds. The terrace, easily accessed via the several patio doors, with its river views suggests a cheeky barbie with meat from Savill’s and an agreeable bottle from the estate.
There’s plenty of modern-day fun to be had, with the indoor pool heated to an agreeable 30 degrees and a waterpolo-friendly 30 foot by 15.
Need extra accommodation? Enjoy the half-mile walk through the beech woods down to The Boathouse, or for arrival and departure, chuck your luggage into the Land Rover and we’ll get you there in a jiffy. The 1760s Boathouse sits on the banks of the Dart with wraparound balcony that embraces its surroundings with uninterrupted river views.
Sleeping four in an en-suite master with commanding river views and a twin, The Boathouse offers the perfect adventure for a young, energetic family who don’t mind a few steps (well, 71) and the spectacular location that results from that on a working farm and vineyard.
Life here revolves around an open-plan kitchen, living and dining space flooded with light from the floor-to-ceiling French windows that span the property. Take in the panoramic views from the balcony table, fire up the barbecue, uncork a Sharpham Sparkling Reserve from the estate and throw some fresh mussels into the pan.
You’ve everything you need here for self-sufficient peace and quiet. The kitchen comes with electric cooker, fridge, freezer, dishwasher and more, and the living space provides a dining table for four. Throw some more timber onto the logburner and cosy up around the TV with the doors open to the calm chug of the rivercraft.
Vineyard Farmhouse is a classically furnished delight, as befitting the home of a revered naval captain. But you don’t need to be a decorated explorer to enjoy the big, sociable spaces that never fail to drink in the river views, with the hub of life here the main kitchen/dining/living area with balcony offering a front-row seat on the Dart.
But life at Vineyard Farmhouse offers far more than the feeling of grandeur that comes from the location, the ornate fireplaces and cornicing, and a well-placed grandfather clock. Once you’ve towelled off in the adjoining changing room from a leisurely swim, it’s time to discover the games barn, with its full-size snooker table, table tennis and table football.
Worn out yet? Perhaps a family film night in the TV room with Sky TV will do the trick? Or bring your Netflix password and make use of the BT Wi-Fi.
Eat on site at ethical, seasonal Circa, with menus that include uchiki kuri squash terrine and celeriac soup. Or cook for yourself in the fully equipped kitchen on the Aga and electric oven plus Aga plates. Stock up the large fridge with deliveries from Sainsbury’s and Asda, meat from Savill’s, fish from Boat2Door, and fruit and veg from Annie’s.
Eat around the oak table in the intimate dining room or out on the terrace with views of the river and meaty treats sizzling on the gas and coal barbecues. Wash everything down with fine fizz from the estate, such as award-winning Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris Wild Ferment and finish off by popping pods in the Nespresso.
Head out for quality pub grub at The Church House Inn in Stoke Gabriel, or the village’s other pub, The Castle, a top spot for a Sunday roast or takeaways that include pizza, fish and chips, and korma. Or pop to Totnes for chicken supreme or banana-blossom fish and chips at The Royal Seven Stars.
In Stoke Gabriel, you’ll also find The River Shack restaurant, a relaxed, rustic place with a river terrace serving you everything from baked fish en papilotte and seafood bisque to cream teas and coffee and cake. Or try Emma’s, for quality British dishes such as hake, crabs and fish and chips followed by banoffee pie.
It’s all quiet here on the south-western front. The only sounds to disturb your slumber will be the roll of the river and the dawn chorus of the songbirds. Vineyard Farmhouse sleeps 12 in six luxury bedrooms, with four more berths available in The Boathouse.
Watch the river roll by from the master suite on the first floor, complete with a superking, TV, private bathroom and space for a cot. You’ve also got river views from bedroom two, a super-kingsize with a bathroom shared with bedroom three, offering a king bed.
Bedroom four is a twin with a shared bathroom, while bedroom five provides a four-foot divan double and a shared bathroom. Finally, there’s a double bed in the annex, which comes with TV and en-suite.
If yours are the kind of kids who love holidays but worry about leaving home behind, bring home with you. There’s space here for a dozen in six bedrooms, three with river views, plus another four intrepid souls happy to tackle the 10 minute woodland walk and then 71-step adventure down to The Boathouse.
On the way here, past the high hedges and the twisting and turning roads, add more excitement by telling them the house was once home to a famous explorer. On arrival, they’ll discover plenty for themselves, including river views from the balcony. Get the barbie going for bangers and burgers.
Down below, the half-acre garden promises picnics on its way down to the River Dart. Back up the hill, the fun keeps on coming. Head to the play barn to lose countless hours over full-size snooker, table tennis and table football. Then, of course, they’ll splash away more time in the heated 30-foot indoor pool.
Stay up late on a school night playing cards in the cosy drawing room with the open fire casting shadows on the wall. Or get together in the TV room for Sky or your own Netflix or Amazon accounts. Sleep deeply in luxury bedrooms then wake for breakfast on the balcony and a walk through the vineyards.