With no immediate neighbours or busy roads, Avenue Cottage is a peaceful and tranquil location. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the garden whenever they like. It is only a 15-minute drive from Totnes and a 10-minute walk from the village of Ashprington where the Durant Arms offers good food.
The house occupies a splendid site at the head of a small valley running down towards the River Dart. Originally it was merely an open fronted thatched garden room for Sharpham House. There was a pair of tiny gardener’s cottages tacked onto the back. It was probably sited by Launcelot 'Capability' Brown as part of the original 18th century landscape, which is now listed as Grade II* by English Heritage. The 18th Century landscape consisted of a 3-mile internal carriage drive round the estate. The cottage was one of the features on this drive.
Avenue Cottage is named after the avenue of Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) that was planted in 1844 by Squire Durant who had bought the estate in 1840. After a disastrous fire in 1953 the cottage was rebuilt with a tiled roof on a square plan without the garden room, and was substantially enlarged in 1980.
There is ample parking space for guests.
This can be made up as a twin or double bedded room and has an en-suite bathroom with walk-in shower and large bath. There are French windows opening onto a Wisteria-clad balcony overlooking the garden and with a splendid view down the valley.
Also on the first floor, this has a [King sized] double bed and a shower room across the landing. The large windows look out over the garden.
Both rooms have hot and cold drinks-making facilities, radio/alarm clock and a television. An iron and ironing board are available.
Breakfast is usually served between 8.00 and 9.00 along traditional lines. Guests are always asked what they would like when they come down in the morning.
Advanced notice would be appreciated if you have any special dietry requirements.
Pets by arrangement only please
Balcony Room £95
Single occupancy £85
Garden Room £75
Single occupancy £65
See 'Special place to stay'
- Alastair Sawday
An exceptionally large Rhododendron arboreum remains from this time. In 1940 the estate was divided up and sold. Avenue Cottage became a separate garden plot of 11 acres. It did not escape the wartime requisition by the government of most of the mature timber from the estate. There was no replanting and much of the site became totally overgrown with laurel and Sycamore seedlings. A succession of keen gardeners have inevitably fallen in love with the site, but it is only since Richard came over 25 years ago that it has been gardened on the scale that you see today.
The garden is principally a large woodland garden with two spring fed ponds running down to the river Dart. There is a good collection of Camellia and Rhododendron for the spring and many unusual beautiful hydrangeas for later. Many less common and unusual trees and shrubs are grown here and although not labelled Richard will be delighted to help identify and describe what you want to know about. There are beautiful views over the surrounding countryside with many paths to explore and seats and benches to find. Like any old garden being redeveloped, there are many mature areas and also new exciting projects being undertaken all the time.
From the garden there are fine views of Sharpham House which was built in 1770 for Captain Philemon Pownell by Sir Robert Taylor. The house is not open but a visit to the vineyard at Sharpham is a wonderful way of seeing more of the local scenery and natural landscape and while you are there you can visit The Vineyard Café, open Easter to the end of September. This part of the Dart Valley is an A.N.O.B.- area of outstanding natural beauty.
There are a number of National Trust properties in the area. The most notable ones within a 45 minute car drive are; Greenway. Agatha Christie’s former home on the river Dart. Coleton Fishacre. Built for the D’Oyly Carte family right on the coast. Overbecks. Another beautiful coastal garden. Saltram. Home of the Parker family just outside Plymouth.
English Heritage manages several Castles in the area. Totnes, Berry Pommeroy and Dartmouth are all worth a visit.
Dartington must have a special mention. There are beautiful gardens, music and literature festivals, open air theatre etc.
Many of the local towns and villages are well worth a visit. Among favorites are Totnes, Dartmouth, Ashburton and Kingsbridge. Plymouth and Exeter are both less than an hour to drive to.
The Durant Arms – The village pub/restaurant Tel 01803 732240 (10 minutes on foot)
The Vineyard Café - in the grounds of the Sharpham Winery 01803 732178 - alfresco lunch only 10am to 5pm (20 minutes on foot)
The Maltsters Arms on the banks of Bow Creek, Tel 01803 732350 (10 Minutes by Car)
There are many other good places to eat in Totnes and further afield, including the popular Riverford Farm Field Kitchen.
The Dart Valley trail runs across the top of the drive. It takes roughly 1 hour to walk into Totnes along the river. In the opposite direction, a longer walk takes you to Dittisham where you can take the ferry across the river and visit Greenway, Agatha Christie’s former home or continue along the river to Dartmouth. With careful attention to the tides it is possible to catch a boat back to Totnes.
There are also a number of good local walks using the Green lanes in the area.
A car journey of half an hour will take you to either Dartmoor or the beautiful South Devon Coast.
Sustrans NCN Route 2 runs across the top of the drive. In one direction it takes you into Totnes (about 2 miles) and then continues to Dartington (another 2 miles). In the other direction it is signed all the way to Slapton on the coast (13 miles).
River trips on the Dart take about 90 minutes from Totnes to Dartmouth. It is possible to combine this with a steam train along the coast to Paignton and then a bus ride back to Totnes.