2 worthy budget priced holiday cottages
Meet Ruth at Sowtontown near Peter Tavy. She was busy stoking the wood boiler when we arrived,
by invitation, to take a look at her two self catering lets. Guests were due later that afternoon,
so Ruth was able to show us the Barn, that sleeps 6 in it's 'ready to receive mode'.
The first thing I have to tell you is that I don't think Ruth and Chris's own website do the properties justice.
And the second thing to say, is that having met Ruth and Chris I can see exactly why that is.
This friendly couple live as sustainable a lifestyle as they can on their smallholding where they keep
a few tame goats for milk and cheese and where guests are welcome to bottle feed the kid goats that
arrive in Springtime. Their free range hens about the place are a mixture of breeds, and as a hen keeper
myself, I can say that they lead as near perfect an existance as any poultry I know on Dartmoor.
Visitors are introduced to the family horses and you can bring your own horse to stay if you wish.
The entrance to the barn is through the door on the right here, which takes you straight into :-
this, the first of three bedrooms on the ground floor. Typical of many barn conversions in the area,
the upper floor was made into the main living area, the better to enjoy the surrounding views.
Also at this ground floor level there is this twin bedded room which Ruth tells me can have the beds
side by side if required, but it is a bit of a squeeze. This layout allows for the radiator to do it's job
and when we look in the room is warm. Ok the bed linen is not straight out of the latest John Lewis
catalogue, but hey this holiday let is close to open Moorland with walks galore and Cycle Route 27
of the National Bike Trail runs right past the gate, so as a bedroom for 2, it fits the bill.
Ruth has a non ironing plan to fit in with her green philosophy of minimising carbon emissions.
Next to that is another warm bedroom kitted out with bunk beds. There's a family bathroom with
shower and curtain over the bath, and as you might expect, ecover products on hand for bath cleaning.
They have done the conversion work themsleves and it's clear that Chris is skilled at woodwork.
There are quite a few water pipes on show running to the radiators, but that makes sense from
a consumer point of view - more external surfaces to act as radiators.
Up above is a large open living space giving more than enough space for a party of 6. There's a sturdy
wood-burner, a tv, a piano and large wooden table with views over West Devon. Walk up the lane for
5 minutes and the range extends well into Cornwall. You will see some wonderful sunsets from here.
The kitchen behind where I am standing to take the photo is well equipped.
Lighting is mostly from low energy bulbs and water for the lets comes from their own supply,
regularly tested and tested again by Rob and myself with a deliciously welcome cup of tea.
Ruth and Chris have a very strong green agenda. They have photovoltaic cells for electricity and solar
thermal tubes that produce hot water. Chris will mend things rather than replace and all kitchen rolls
and toilet rolls are 100% recycled products. Read the details on their website to find out more about
staying at the barn. Ruth offers babysitting if you want to treat yourself to an evening meal at one of
the good local pubs. There is a cot and stair gates at both properties. Off road parking.
And well behaved dogs are most welcome...... especially in the second of the two lets :-
This little gem is the Shippen. Another barn conversion with a wealth of granite showing and warm
wood fitted throughout. As Ruth pointed out to me, this is an ideal let for anyone with dogs, as
the floor floor can easily be mopped and the dogs will be in the same room as you when you sleep in
the open sided bedroom above. There is a sitting room beyond what you see in this photo.
This room can be made into a twin room if you wish, making it a very good let for families on a budget.
At the height of Summer the cost is only £449 per week, and during the quiet Winter months it is on for
only £203 per week which I think is very good value. There is a cot and high chair available plus babysitting.
This is the space 'up aloft' Just right for a bargain hunting honeymoon couple too.
Turn the tv round to face the bed (striped in fabric the forground) and cuddle up together
knowing that your honeymoon won't cost the earth - in more ways than one!
My rules for allowing any accommodation provider onto my website, is that I have to be able to say
that I would happily go to a place myself (which is why 3 or 4 places do not feature on my site) and these
two holiday lets are tricky to describe to you. They are basic, without frills, solid and as I stated at
the start - worthy lets. I didn't spot a trace of Ikea, but there was quite a bit of Ercol. The curtains may
well be slightly faded, but the welcome from Ruth and Chris is completely genuine. They want you to
share their way of life, get close to their much loved livestock, go out and discover Dartmoor for yourself.
Stay here and you will have a taste of the Good Life. You will be able to log on to the Internet, you may have
to bring your own towels and you will pay extra for any electricity you use over the first 90 units, but I think
you'll go home with an understanding about real recycling. Chris might show you the methane burner in his
kitchen which makes use of what you will add to the system, and you will go home with lots to think about.
This last shot is of the visitors' book in the Shippen, which is full of grateful comments from holiday-
makers who have stayed. All comments are enthusiastic and grateful. I'm not at all surprised.
Rock on Ruth and Chris !!