Holidays at Mill Cottage.

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Welcome to Mill Cottage, Beaford.

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Welcome to Mill Cottage.

Welcome to our beautiful early-16th-century cottage. It nestles hidden away on the edge of ancient woodland on the lower slopes of the valley, and is situated about half a mile from the small village of Beaford. About 200 yards to the west is the River Torridge, where Henry Williamson’s "Tarka the Otter" swam in the glistening water. If you stroll quietly along the banks in the early morning, you might be lucky and see the otters playing in the river, or a kingfisher swoop down to catch a fish for breakfast. From the cottage, you might catch a glimpse of the roe deer, which cross the lane to the wood, or the beautiful white-faced barn owl that nests in the derelict mill adjacent to the cottage. Often he can be seen swooping for small prey, mostly mice and voles that hide in the rough ground adjoining the cottage. There are many and varied birds that visit the garden to feed, and the dawn chorus in the early summer mornings can be spectacular. During the night the hooting of the tawny owls and the screeching of the barn owls, as they hunt for food, breaks the silence that surrounds the cottage. The cottage is a very tranquil place where you can relax in the peaceful surroundings, whiling away the time in quiet seclusion. The gardens stretch for nearly half an acre, and in the summer evenings the scents of honeysuckle and lavender drift gently on the breeze to delight the senses. On a clear night, a myriad of stars seem to float down from the blackness of the sky, a sensation so palpable that you can almost reach out and touch them.

The accomodation.

Occupying an idyllic sheltered valley location with no immediate neighbours, the cottage is protected to the north by ancient woodland. The main garden is to the south of the cottage and is bordered by soft green pastures, which slope gently down to The River Torridge. Mill Cottage is a charming thatched 3-4 bedroomed Grade II listed Devon hall house. A hall house originally had no upper floor and the smoke from the fires simply permeated through the thatch, leaving the roof trusses, the underside of the thatch and the gable walls blackened. This blackening can still be seen in the roof space. The exact age of Mill Cottage is unknown, however it is thought that the oldest parts date back to the early sixteenth century. It is a classic picture postcard cottage, with all the traditional features that one would expect from a building of it's age including an inglenook fireplace, medieval stonework, and low oak beams. The property is entered by wooden gates leading onto a private driveway, providing off-road parking for a number of cars. The main entrance to the cottage is through the "Sun Room", giving panoramic views of the garden. This room is furnished with a pine table and chairs, and creates a lovely atmosphere in which to enjoy a family meal or a glass of wine. The original front door leads off this room into the oak beamed lounge with its wood-burning stove, comfortable furniture and radio cassette. A lovely room to spend a quiet time reading, or listening to favourite music. There is a second sitting room, the "snug", with its low oak beamed ceiling and inglenook fireplace. This is a cosy room with a television/video/CD/DVD, where the family can congregate and relax together. There is a multitude of books to suit all tastes in here. The "snug" gives way to a small utility area, off which is a large pantry containing a fridge-freezer and, in the passage that leads into the kitchen, an automatic washing machine and a microwave oven. The modern kitchen is well equipped and includes a dining area. From here the door leads to the back of the property where the wooded valley climbs sharply towards the village of Beaford. In the lounge are double doors, through which are the stairs to the bedrooms. A "turret" was originally built to accommodate the stairs. From the outside of the cottage you can clearly see where the building juts-out to enable the staircase to be fitted. The stairs wind through 180 degrees, with two half-landings, before finally reaching the upstairs landing. From here can be reached all the bedrooms. The first is a lovely double bedroom with south facing views across the gardens to the fields and beyond. During the Spring when the trees are still bare, glimpses of the river can be seen as it hurries along on its journey to the sea. The second bedroom, which faces the back of the house, has two bunk beds. The room overlooks the clearing and upwards to the wood. It is from here, if you rise early, that the roe deer can be seen in the clearing, as they leap from the lane after emerging from the woodland opposite the cottage. The third bedroom is a single room, and this also faces the back of the house. This room still retains the original rough lime plaster. The bedroom is in the centre of the house and has a special, peaceful feel to it. There is a bird box outside the window and, during the Spring, blue tits nest here and sometimes they will tap gently on the window. The master bedroom is the largest of all and has it own en suite bathroom. It contains a king-size bed with a luxurious mattress. The joy of this room is the view over the garden. The window is very low and the birds can be seen without even raising your head from the pillow. On warm summer nights, if the windows are left open, the owls can be heard, and in the early morning the dawn chorus is just breathtaking!

The gardens.

The gardens predominantly lie to the front of the cottage. They comprise large lawns and an abundance of well-stocked beds containing flowers, shrubs and vegetables. A wide variety of native, ornamental, and fruit trees abound in the garden. These include Japanese maple, eucalyptus, plums, cooking and eating apples. A pathway leads to the bottom garden; this is known as the "secret garden" as it is almost hidden from the cottage. It is laid to lawn with a natural hedgerow separating the garden from the neighbours’ land. This hedgerow has recently been "laid" in the classic manner, an ancient farming craft that is no longer in general use. The hedge is planted on the top of a Devon bank, and was originally used to control grazing animals. The gardens are a delight all through the year, with a succession of spectacular plants, both wild and ornamental that change with the seasons. For the children, there is a Wendy House which the children will love. One little girl took everything into the "big house" to play with. Parents beware – the children will want to sleep in their house, so be prepared with some good excuses!

Email Pat and David