We arrived on Dartmoor on a grey drizzly afternoon and followed the Sat Nav to our destination, a Sixteenth Century Inn, The Elephant’s Nest at Mary Tavy tucked just inside the National Park of Dartmoor. Our first impressions were good as we pulled into the car park. A warm welcome awaited us and we were shown directly to our room. From the darkness of the day and the age of the building we could have been forgiven for thinking that we would be shown to a small, dark olde worlde room, but not at all. A new extension has been added to the original building for 3 bed and breakfast rooms all decorated to a very high standard and the build had been so sympathetically done that we hadn’t realised the accommodation was not part of the original old building. We had a large spacious room with a light oak wooden floor, beautiful white cane furniture and a large comfortable bed with crisp white linen. It gave a feeling of tranquillity and the view from the window was over a pretty garden and beyond to rural Devon. The en suite was modern and light and boasted a hairdryer and sumptuously thick and soft dressing gowns. The bedroom had a hairdryer, Wi-fi and tea and coffee making facilities plus a fridge with fresh milk! Rosie (our little dog) made herself at home immediately and was welcomed and invited to join us in the restaurant for dinner. She was very impressed.
Although the weather was far from inviting we decided to venture into Tavistock, an old market town about a 10 minute drive away. It was most intriguing with beautiful shops and little alleyways to explore off the main high street. We went down one and found an amazing covered market with a row of shops and cafes that reminded us of Covent Garden, definitely a place to spend more time in. We also took a drive onto Dartmoor where we saw sheep and ponies roaming the moor but unfortunately the weather wasn’t good enough to walk as it was very wet and misty. However, The Elephant’s Nest would be an excellent base for a walking holiday as it is literally a ten minute walk to the cattle grid and off over the Moors.
We arrived back with time to relax and get ready for dinner. What an experience that was. The restaurant was in the pub which was in the old part of the building and very “wibbly-wobbly” and the décor was naturally themed with elephants. It gave a lovely atmosphere to the place and the friendly staff and locals all added to a very enjoyable evening. The menu had something for everyone and all the food is locally sourced. It was really a “melt in the mouth” experience and we would love to find somewhere like this locally to our home. The price was very reasonable for what we had. The wines were top end of what you would pay in a pub. Having said all that it was very good value, it really was a lovely evening and the food was extremely well cooked and presented with delicious accompaniments.
Breakfast didn’t disappoint either. Home baked bread, fresh fruit salad and a varied choice of cereals and cooked breakfast.
Retrospectively we have read again the details provided on their website and have to say we couldn’t find anything that was exaggerated in anyway, accommodation and food are all that you would hope to find from their descriptions. One small point was that the photo of our room (the one with the vaulted ceiling) doesn’t do it justice. It’s much larger than it looks on the photo but I guess it’s hard to get the angle right.
The Elephant’s Nest Inn in Devon offers a cosy winter bolt hole with open log fires as well as glorious al fresco summer dining in the large English country-garden, with its stunning views of the moor. Set within Dartmoor National Park, this 16th century free-house makes an ideal base for exploring the moor year round.
Situated five miles from the thriving market town of Tavistock, the Elephant’s Nest is a good rest stop for many a Dartmoor hike or biking trail. On the Western fringes of Devon, it’s also a good spot to stop en route to Cornwall.
The focus at the Elephant’s Nest is on great, seasonal food, using the finest ingredients. The delicious food can be washed down with a selection of well-kept real West Country ales from Dartmoor’s Jail Ale to regular guests such as O’Hanlon’s, Otter, Cotleigh, Teignworthy or Butcombe. There’s also local scrumpy on draught, ready for warmer days.
A new extension to the pub has recently been completed to provide three luxurious en-suite bedrooms. Beautifully finished with solid oak floors and under floor heating, all rooms have large Vi-Spring beds, soft goosedown duvets and pillows and luxurious soft furnishings.
Rooms cost from £87.50 per night on a B&B basis based on two people sharing.
Places to go
As we were only in the area for one full day it was impossible to visit many places. Add to that the fact that the rain and mist never stopped it kept us from exploring the Moors as we would have liked. However, we did go down to the coast which was only 20 miles away and walked along Plymouth Hoe which was most interesting with The Eddystone Lighthouse (open at restricted times) which had been reconstructed on land and the statue of Sir France Drake. It was fascinating to stand there and imagine all the pilgrims that would have set sail from that spot to a new world in the Americas.
Of course we could have picked any of the seaports along that coast like Salcombe, Dartmouth or Brixham all of which would be well worth a visit and gave a contrast of staying in the remote, tranquil and beautiful areas of Dartmoor with the fun and business of the coastal areas.
There are also places such as Abbeys (Buckfast probably being the most popular) National Trust Houses, Market towns, Wildlife Centres and Activity places with lots of fishing, canoeing and walking available. It would be a photographers heaven and an artist’s delight. This really is an area of diversity with something for everyone in all seasons.
Pam, 58 lives in Fareham with her husband Steve, little dog Rosie and cat Bobby. They are semi-retired and moved to the area 18 months ago to enjoy the benefits of living near the sea. Having travelled throughout Europe and America on family holidays with their two sons and North and South Africa and Dubai on their own they now enjoy exploring areas of France in their caravan which they wouldn’t have visited with young boys and this enables them to take Rosie with them. They also enjoy short breaks in England both in their caravan with Rosie and on their own in hotels and have recently visited Warwick, Hunstanton, London and Christchurch in the New Forest. They love exploring the countryside as well as walking around marinas and coastal paths and good food scores highly on their list of enjoyments when away.