Devon Food, Drink and Local Information - Blog

The Old Forge Restaurant on Dartmoor wins best Afternoon Tea Award October 13, 2015 14:11

The Old Forge in Chagford on Dartmoor

The Old Forge Caffè and Restaurant in Chagford, Dartmoor, has had lots to shout about recently. The Old Forge was judged as having the best cream tea in Devon by independent cream tea reviewer Ditch Townsend, who has tasted over 250 cream teas in the county.

The Old Forge Restaurant - Best Cream Tea in Devon!

In September 15 the Daily Telegraph coined the Dartmoor-based café as "Britain's best cream tea" whilst The Times wrote "the cream of Devon teas". Now the Café Life Awards has crowned the Old Forge Caffè & Restaurant the winner of the Afternoon Tea Experience Challenge sponsored by Tetley Tea. The finals for the competition took place at the ‘Lunch!’ trade show in London and saw the UK's most innovative cafés, bakeries and cookery schools create a bespoke sweet and savoury spread, paired with one of Tetley's range of teas, to provide the ultimate Afternoon Tea Experience. Celebrity chef and café entrepreneur Aldo Zilli was head judge for the competition leading an independent panel of food and drink experts.

Old Forge best afternoon tea in the UKDr Richard Farrington, owner and head chef at The Old Forge since leaving a career in medicine two years ago, said: "The competition today was truly astonishing, and I'm thrilled to be able to take home the prize for my version of a Devonshire Cream Tea - an amazing local speciality that I am incredibly passionate about. To be recognised by the Café Life Awards in this way is a proud achievement and one that I will treasure."

The sandwiches and cakes Richard included in his afternoon tea stand were inspired by the early 1900s, a time period when the cream tea started to become well known to the rest of the country with the expansion of the railways. However, the real fun came with the cream tea element of the afternoon tea. Instead of pairing scones, cream and jam with traditional Earl Grey tea and sliced lemon, Richard made spiced caraway scones (to taste like Victorian seed cake) and served them with homemade Earl Grey-infused clotted cream, lemon curd, and a Red Berry Tetley tea. All the traditional flavours comprising a cream tea are present, but in a rather unusual and highly original form that mad-scientist Heston Blumenthal would be proud of.

The full afternoon tea menu is below:

  • Dainty finger sandwiches (crusts cut off, of course):
    Cucumber on traditional white sourdough bread
    Salmon pâté on seeded bread (including caraway seeds)
  • A chilled glass of homemade lemonade (this could be changed to a glass of champagne for a higher sale price, but Richard prefers the traditional lemonade, whose flavour marries and compliments the other elements of the tea so well).
  • A selection of popular sweet delicacies - here Richard chose shortbread, fruit cake, raspberry tartlets and lemon sponge to best match the other flavours in the afternoon tea.
  • A "Devonshire Cream Tea" with a difference:
    Caraway seed scones (adding the flavour of traditional seed cake) paired with homemade Earl-Grey-infused clotted cream
    Lemon curd (the added lemon to go with the Earl Grey)
    A pot of Tetley Summer Berry Tea

Well done to Richard and the team! We are very proud at Devon Heaven Hampers to sell afternoon and cream tea vouchers for such a highly acclaimed restaurant and café!


Best Picnic Spots in Devon - Top 20 July 16, 2015 21:46

Picnic's are a great British tradition and in Devon we're blessed with wonderful beaches, beautiful river valleys and lakes, as well as stunning moorland, all perfect for enjoying a picnic. As we sell picnic hampers using local Devonshire foods we've put together this list of 20 of the best picnic spots in Devon, along with a map showing each location.

Jump to - North Devon Picnic Spots - Exeter & East Devon Picnic Spots - Dartmoor Picnic Spots - Torbay, Plymouth & South Devon Picnic Spots

 Best Devon Picnic Spots

Picnic Spots in North Devon

1. Watermouth Bay, near Ilfracombe, North Devon
Location - Small car park near the harbour, postcode EX34 9SL.

North Devon Picnic Location Watermouth Cove offers a very sheltered harbour, shielded by the natural breakwater of Sexton's Burrows, as well as picture-perfect views. This has created an ecosystem for lots of rare marine species attracting many boats to moor at the harbour. It’s the perfect sheltered location for a Devon picnic.

2. Instow Beach, near Barnstaple, North Devon
Location - There’s free short stay parking along the seafront and two car parks at either end of the beach for longer stays, postcode EX39 4JA.

Beach Picnic North DevonSet just back from the Atlantic coast in the mouth of the River Taw and Torridge Estuary, Instow Beach is slightly more sheltered than most of North Devon’s beaches. It’s also one of the best places to view the sunset in North Devon, so why not set up a romantic picnic at dusk and watch the glorious colours emblazoned across a scene of bobbing boats at the mouth of the estuary. Hocking’s ice cream is worth considering for dessert.

3. Wistlandpound Reservoir, South Molton, North Devon
Location - Pay and display car park next to the lake, postcode EX31 4SL.

Lake Picnic North DevonThe tranquil lake is surrounded by conifers, and makes a great spot for a peaceful picnic in the heart of North Devon. Wander around the still lake and find a nice location to sit down and take in the view over some sandwiches.

4. Mouth Mill, North Devon
Location - Brownsham National Trust car park, postcode EX39 6AN.

Coast Picnic Location North DevonFrom the car park head towards the coast and you’ll soon reach the beautiful beach of Mouth Mill, a stunning location to picnic and unwind as a family. It’s also possible to walk along the coast to the famous thatched-and-cobbled village of Clovelly, where donkeys are still the main form of transport up the steep village street and residents carry their shopping on sleds.

5. Eggesford Forest, off A377, North Devon
Location - Parking at Hilltown Wood, postcode EX18 7LD.

Forest Picnic Spot DevonEggesford Forest is a great place to visit. It has a network of trails and paths that link the different woodlands and also connect to the Tarka rail line at Eggesford Station. Hilltown Wood carpark has toilet facilities and a nice picnic area, where you can eat your lunch amid the trees, and enjoy their cooling shade.


Picnic Spots in Exeter & East Devon

6. Grand Western Canal, Halberton, Tiverton, Devon
Location - Small free car park, postcode EX16 7AE.

Canal Picnic Spot DevonDating back to 1796, the Grand Western Canal runs between Taunton in Somerset and Tiverton in Devon. Just down from the car park is a nice peaceful patch of grassland with a few picnic benches overlooking the canal. Before picnicking why not stop off at Halberton Court Farm Shop to pick your own strawberries.

7. Beer Head, East Devon
Location - Pay and display car park on a field by Beer Head Caravan Park, postcode EX12 3AQ.

East Devon Picnic SpotBeer to Branscombe is a popular walk amongst locals due to its stunning coastal views from the cliff tops. The walk does contain some steep sections but for those who can make it to Branscombe, the pebble beach makes for a good picnic spot. Alternatively, make use of the large amount of open grassland that covers the coastal path between Beer and Branscombe.

8. Budleigh Salterton, nr Exeter, East Devon
Location - Postcode EX9 6JD. Large pay and display car park next to the beach and River Otter.

Devon Beach Picnic SpotBudleigh Salterton is situated towards the western start of the majestic World Heritage Jurassic Coast, in the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The picturesque town has a 2 mile pebble beach ideal for picnicking without sand getting in your sandwiches.


Picnic Spots on Dartmoor

9. Hennock Reservoirs, North East Dartmoor
Location - Pay and display car park to the south of Trenchford Reservoir, nearest postcode TQ13 9NX.

Devon reservoir picnic spotConsisting of three reservoirs, Trenchford, Tottiford & Kennick, all joined by a small stream, Hennock Reservoirs are as peaceful place as you can imagine. There are plenty of picnic benches overlooking the Trenchford reservoir by the car park. Alternatively, there are lots of secluded spots with rocks for seating around the outside of the reservoirs. For walkers, a path circles all three reservoirs with tracks also leading off into nearby fields and woods.

10. Spitchwick, River Dart, South East Dartmoor
Location - Free parking at Newbridge or alongside the narrow lane that runs past Spitchwick common, nearest postcode TQ13 7NT.

River dart picnic spotSpitchwick, set on the banks of the beautiful River Dart, is a popular spot for picnics and barbeques. It’s great for families wanting to combine a picnic or BBQ with swimming in the cold deep water of the River Dart. A picnic can also be followed by a pleasant afternoon walk along the footpath that runs next to the river in either direction.

11. Haytor, East Dartmoor
Location - Medium size car parks at the top and bottom of the tor - postcode TQ13 9XT.

Dartmoor Picnic LocationWith relatively easy access from Torquay and Exeter, Haytor is probably Dartmoor’s most popular tor. There are lots of rocks for seating and short grass surrounding the tor, along with superb views of the South Devon coastline, making it a lovely place to enjoy a picnic. Those with more energy can clamber up the tor or take a walk to nearby Hound Tor.

12. Postbridge, Central Dartmoor
Location - Pay and Display in the National Park visitors car park or over the road in Bellever Woods – postcode - PL20 6SY.

Postbridge DartmoorOn the bank of the East River Dart, Postbridge has lots of short grass surrounded by woodland making it perfect for picnics. It’s best known for its ancient clapper bridge, believed to have been built in the 13th century to enable pack horses to cross the river. The location, in the middle of Dartmoor, is a great choice for walkers who are spoilt for choice with walks through Bellever Woods, along the river or up to Bellever Tor. Postbridge is also good for families as kids can play on the rocks dotted along the river using them as stepping stones.

13. Burrator Reservoir, Dartmoor
Location – Nearest postcode PL20 6PE. Parking is possible at various locations around the lake including the Quarry car park, Norsworthy Bridge and the Dam.

Reservoir Picnic PlymouthUndisturbed Burrator is surrounded by mixed woodland which sharply contrasts with the open moor and rugged Dartmoor tors not far from Plymouth. The reservoir is popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders due to its wealth of footpaths and bridleways. The 3.5mile circular walk which follows the lanes around the water is ideal for families as it is easy going and flat. It’s possible to venture inside of the road to find your perfect picnic spot next to the water’s edge.

14. Roadford Lake, West Devon
Location - Plenty of pay and display parking, postcode PL16 0JL.

Lake picnic devonSet on the northern edge of Dartmoor, not far from the A30 between Okehampton and Launceston, Roadford Lake is the largest area of fresh water in Southwest England. Not only is it a peaceful picnic location, it also offers plenty of activities to keep families entertained including, cycling, kayaking, windsurfing, fishing, walking and much more.


Picnic Spots in Torbay, Plymouth & South Devon

15. Cockington, Torquay, South Devon
Location - There’s a couple of medium size pay and display car parks in Cockington village, postcode TQ2 6XB.

Picnic Spot near TorquayThe truly picturesque village of Cockington, near Torquay, is a charming place, lined with thatched cottages it boasts a water mill, a forge and even the cricket pitch was once a medieval deer park. At the heart of the village is Cockington Court, a manor house often visited by Agatha Christie that is surrounded by hundreds of acres of gorgeous country park, perfect for a picnic. Today, Cockington Court is a hub for art where you can even watch glassblowers and blacksmiths in action.

16. Berry Head Hill Fort, nr Brixham, English Riviera
Location - Park at the Berry Head Visitor Centre, postcode TQ5 9AP.

Picnic location near TorbayBerry Head National Nature Reserve is Torbay's most important wildlife site, with many rare plants dependent upon the thin soils, mild climate and exposed conditions of the headland. Enjoy a picnic on the cliffs of Berry Head and walk to the Berry Head Lighthouse, which is reputedly the shortest lighthouse in Great Britain, but also one of the highest, being only 5 metres (16 ft) tall, but 58 metres (190 ft) above mean sea level (wikipedia).

17. Little Dartmouth, South Devon
Location - National trust car park, postcode TQ6 0JP.

South hams picnic locationFrom the National Trust car park pick up the Southwest coast path towards Dartmouth and find a nice picnic spot on the cliff top at the opening for the beautiful River Dart estuary. Also, consider venturing as far as Dartmouth Castle, the English Heritage site that has guarded the estuary for over 600 years.

18. Mill Bay, South Hams
Location - Large car park next to the beach although this can become full if you are late arriving on popular days, postcode TQ8 8PU.

Picnic spot near SalcombeMill Bay is a lovely sheltered cove with golden sand located on the banks of the Salcombe Estuary in the far south of Devon. Children love to build dams across the stream that trickles down the beach giving parents the opportunity to tuck into a picnic in peace. By taking a short walk up the estuary you can catch a ferry that runs to the popular seaside town of Salcombe.

19. Bigbury-on-Sea, nr Salcombe, South Devon
Location - Postcode TQ7 4AS, there’s a large pay and display car park located above the beach.

South devon beach picnic locationBigbury-on-Sea is a popular destination for families wanting to enjoy the beautiful South Devon coast. It’s most well-known for its sea tractor resembling an open top bus on stilts that ferries visitors across the shallow waters to Burgh Island. Enjoy a picnic on the golden sand as kids play in the sea that can sometimes offer nice surf, especially over the estuary at Bantham.

20. Plymouth Hoe, Plymouth
Location - Two pay and display car parks nearby, postcode PL1 3BJ.

Picnic location in PlymouthA short walk from the city centre of Devon’s largest city isn’t somewhere that you would necessarily expect to find a great picnic location, but Plymouth Hoe is a really good picnic spot. It also offers excellent marine life views across Plymouth Sound to Drake Island and has a large amount of open green space. The iconic Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse stands over the Hoe and is open to those that want to get a better vantage point to look out onto the Sound.

See also:

Our blog listing 50 of the best cream teas in Devon to be enjoyed on a day out 

Our cream tea hampers by post to take with you or send to a friend who couldn't make it to Devon. 


Dartmoor Cream Tea Challenge April 21, 2015 10:52 21 Comments

About the Dartmoor Cream Tea Challenge

The cream tea challenge is a route across Dartmoor that incorporates 16 great tearooms and hotels that sell Devonshire cream teas. With its stunning scenery Dartmoor is the perfect place to enjoy a cream tea, or 16! Its open expanse makes Dartmoor perfect for walkers, with the most well known trek being the ten tors adventure where students hike between 35 and 55 miles across Dartmoor on a route that takes them between 10 Dartmoor tors.

Dartmoor Cream Tea Adventure Challenge

How the Dartmoor Cream Tea Challenge Works

The Dartmoor Cream Tea Challenge is a fun on-going event that can either be walked, rode or driven. Those looking for adventure can walk, run or ride the route ticking off each cream tea over the course of a long weekend. Those more keen on thick clotted cream and warm fresh scones than the exhausting 63 miles of Dartmoor hills can treat the challenge as a tick list crossing off each venue over the course of whatever time period they choose, making it a very accessible challenge to all.

The below map shows the route by road in a bit more detail, those taking on the adventure challenge will find that some sections are walk-able direct off-road. For on-route accommodation check out http://www.visitdartmoor.co.uk/.

Dartmoor Cream Tea Adventure Challenge Map

What do you get for completing the challenge?

The Dartmoor cream tea challenge is a fun event that Devon Heaven Hampers run for free so we don't give out medals or badges etc. for completing the challenge. However, you will be added to our hall of fame below and have your achievement shared through our social media page. Simply let us know the details below and send us a picture or two of you en route. We will also give away one of our cream tea hampers as a prize to one of those who complete the challenge each year (or can send to a relative if you've eaten too many cream tea's!).

Date  Name Walk/Ride/Drive Days Taken Favourite Cream Tea

 

Cream Tea Voucher Give Away

To celebrate the cream tea challenge, we have cream tea vouchers to give away! Vouchers can be won for the tearooms and hotels listed below. To enter the competition, all you have to do is like our Facebook page.


Cream Tea for Two Vouchers

Venue / Status

Badgers Holt - Done
Fox Tor Cafe - Done
Buckland Abbey - Done
Home Farm Cafe - Done
Moorland Gardens Hotel - Coming Soon
The Old Forge - Coming Soon
The White Hart Hotel - Coming Soon
Prince Hall - Coming Soon

Tearooms and Hotels on the Cream Tea Challenge Route

These will be set until summer 2016.

1. The Old Walled Garden, Dunsford EX6 7AA

The Old Walled Garden is a small tearoom with a lovely walled garden in the centre of Dunsford that serves great value homemade cream teas, which can be enjoyed after a walk along the River Teign at Steps Bridge.

2. Woodleigh Coach House, Cheriton Bishop, Exeter EX6 6JL
http://www.woodleighcoach.com/

Woodleigh Coach House is a Grade II listed building originally constructed by a London Brewer in the late 19th century. Located in the former stables of the Coach House, the cafe offers a warm and rustic feel with splendid views of the countryside.

3. The Old Forge, Chagford TQ13 8AB
http://theoldforgechagford.co.uk/

This converted blacksmith’s forge in the centre of Chagford serves high quality local and homemade food and drink, including Devonshire Cream Teas served with loose-leaf tea which has been rated by independent cream tea reviewer Ditch Townsend as the best in Devon. We sell gift vouchers for a cream tea for two at The Old Forge.

4. Gidleigh Park, Chagford TQ13 8HH
http://www.gidleigh.co.uk/

On the banks of the River Teign in Dartmoor this luxury Tudor style country house hotel is the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon tea or a Devonshire cream tea.

5. Bovey Castle, North Bovey TQ13 8RE
http://www.boveycastle.com/

Bovey Castle is one of the UK’s finest hotels and offers visitors a chance to be treated like a king whilst enjoying a cream tea or a more extensive afternoon tea within its wonderful grounds.

6. The White Hart Hotel, Moretonhampstead TQ13 8NQ
http://www.whitehartdartmoor.co.uk/

A family-owned hotel in the centre of Moretonhampstead with a lovely restaurant that uses local produce and serves cream teas daily between 10-4. The White Hart is very dog friendly so pop in after a nice walk on the moors.

7. Home Farm Café, Bovey Tracey TQ13 9JQ
http://www.homefarmcafe.co.uk/

Surrounded by lots of nice walking routes along the River Bovey this dog friendly café is an ideal spot for dog walkers to enjoy a good value cream tea with warm homemade scones.

8. The Edgemoor Hotel, Bovey Tracey TQ13 9LE
http://www.edgemoor.co.uk/

A family-owned, dog friendly country house hotel en route to Haytor serving cream and afternoon teas in either the Old School Tea Rooms or outside in the attractive gardens.

9. Bagders Holt, Dartmeet PL20 6SG
http://www.badgersholtdartmoor.co.uk/

Set at Dartmeet where the East and West River Dart merge, Bagders Holt is in a great location and offers wonderful walking along the river. Badgers Holt specialises in Cream Teas with a secret scone recipe exclusive to the restaurant for over 60 years and also offers homemade traditional fruit, cheese and gluten free scones.

10. Prince Hall, Two Bridges, Dartmoor, Devon, PL20 6SA
http://www.princehall.co.uk/

Set high on Dartmoor the Prince Hall is a lovely setting overlooking the West River Dart. They serve delicious Devonshire cream tea featuring freshly-baked crumbly scones, locally-made strawberry preserve and Devon clotted cream.

11. Two Bridges Hotel, Princetown PL20 6SW
http://www.twobridgeshotel.uk/

Two Bridges Hotel offer a fine dining experience in the middle of Dartmoor as well as serving cream teas daily either inside by the fire or outside in their private garden.

12. Tor Royal, Princetown PL20 6SL
http://www.torroyal.co.uk/

afternoon tea dartmoorTor Royal is a homely bed and breakfast set in a Grade II-listed building in the middle of Dartmoor National Park. It sits in an unspoilt region of Dartmoor, where War Horse was filmed.Its restaurant offers quality local food and drink, including gluten free cream teas. We sell gift vouchers for an afternoon tea for two at the Tor Royal.

13. Fox Tor Café, Princetown PL20 6QS
http://www.foxtorcafe.com/

A licensed café, popular with walkers passing through Princetown, Fox Tor Café sell local food and drink and serve great value meals.

14. The East Gate, Tavistock PL19 0BW
http://www.eastgatetavistock.co.uk/

Located in Tavistock on the west side of the moors, the East Gate Café offers the chance to enjoy a Devon cream tea in their beautiful terrace garden overlooking the River Tavy. We sell Devonshire cream tea gift vouchers for The East Gate on Dartmoor.

15. Buckland Abbey, Yelverton, Devon, PL20 6EY
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/buckland-abbey/

The 700 year old abbey is now managed by the National Trust, it is part museum, part house, and filled with treasures such as the legendary Drake’s Drum. The onsite Ox Yard restaurant serves food that often is picked from the abbey's traditional walled Cider House kitchen garden.

16. Moorland Garden Hotel, Yelverton PL20 6DA
http://www.moorlandgardenhotel.co.uk/

On the edge of Dartmoor, Moorland Garden Hotel boasts nine acres of beautiful moorland garden perfect for either a special afternoon tea or indulgent cream tea.