Our latest adventure took us to North Devon, to a small town called Lynmouth. Oscar and Henry were invited to stay at Tors Park apartments, which looked beautiful – so of course we couldn’t refuse. Tors Park used to be a hotel and is currently undergoing renovations to become holiday let apartments. There are four apartments currently, but another thirty-odd will be finished by the end of the year and we are sure they will be amazing.
Lynmouth is a small seaside town on the coast, nestled at the end of a gorge, where the East and West Lyn rivers meet. The next nearest town is Lynton, which is 500ft above Lynmouth, at the top of the cliff. You can either drive for five minutes up the hill to Lynton, or use the Cliff Railway which travels up the cliff face. Lynmouth is fondly known as ‘England’s Little Switzerland’ after poet Robert Southey said that there was something alpine-looking about it, in 1799.
Here’s what we got up to on our trip to North Devon…
Joining us on this trip was the boys’ best friend, Dylan and his human, Rosie. You can watch Rosie’s vlog from the trip here and you can follow her on Instagram. We picked Rosie and Dylan up from the Island and they joined us on the ferry, from Fishbourne to Portsmouth, using Wightlink ferries. We drove for an hour and a half before stopping at a beautiful pub, that Rosie found – The Queen’s Arms, in Corton Denham. We didn’t want to eat too much, as Tors Park had food lined up for us in the evening, but we ordered some nibbles and a couple of fizzy drinks, for a much needed sugar hit.
We continued with the journey, of which we had two hours left after our pub stop. Although the company was great and the scenery was beautiful, I was definitely relieved when we saw a sign marking the start of Exmoor National Park, meaning that we were just twenty minutes from our destination. All in from the Isle of Wight, you’re looking at a five hour journey, which is exhausting with three very excited dogs (although I can’t lie, 95% of the noise came from the pugs). We had to drive through Lynmouth to get to Tors Park apartments and wow; it is beautiful.
Once we had parked up, we abandoned the luggage temporarily, figuring it was best to get the dogs out of the car first and find our apartment. We were staying in Ocean Terrace, and as the name suggests, it comes with a large terrace and an incredible view of the sea and the town. Check-in was at 4pm and we arrived on the most beautiful afternoon to enjoy the views.
With planters everywhere and an outdoor corner sofa, we were excited to crack open the wine and relax. The door to the apartment led straight into the large kitchen / dining / living space, which was so light and open. Balcony doors on either side of the far wall led to small, corner balconies overlooking the views. However, the gaps in the balcony railings looked somewhat risky for our small dogs, so we didn’t open the balcony doors. In all fairness, we had a large terrace to the side of the apartment, so we didn’t need a balcony anyway. Down the short hallway past the kitchen were two bedrooms, both with ensuite bathrooms, double beds, and lots of wardrobe space.
The dogs were immediately sniffing around the space. I was glad to see the floors were wood, which would make it easier to clean up if the boys tracked any mud through after a walk!
Left on the kitchen island was a welcome box, full of yummy treats for the boys. The packet included a branded Tors Park bone, a bunch of sausages, a box of treats and the cutest dog walking map, designed by local artist Joseph Witchall. Of course, the boys were extremely happy with their treats and they didn’t last long!
We spent some time unpacking and freshening up, before our influencer party, which Tors Park had put on for us and the other influencers to enjoy. Joining us was: @DashOfSausage – made up of four adorable sausage dogs – Sass, Pepe, Olive and Roo, @EchoTheWhippet – made up of two whippets – Echo and Tee, and finally, @TheCotswoldSpaniels – made up of Woody and Wilma. Of course, the humans joined us too and it was lovely to meet everyone!
The party was hosted on the Ocean Terrace and started with a doggy afternoon tea by The Lyn Valley Dog House. I have honestly never seen so many incredible dog treats! There were scones, cakes, gingerbread men, doughnuts, cookies, macarons… and so much more. As there was so many treats, each of the dogs got to take away a goodie bag to enjoy later. And trust me, they really did enjoy it!
As well as the dog tea party, there was human food, provided by The Ancient Mariner and The Bath Hotel – an incredible hotel / restaurant / pub in Lynmouth. We had charcuterie boards made up of cheese, meat, bread, dips and the nicest paté I have ever eaten! There were also brownies, macarons and fresh fruit skewers – yum.
Then, to our surprise, local artist Joseph Witchall turned up to draw caricatures of each of the dogs. I found it super impressive how he didn’t even ask the dogs to sit. He drew each and every one of them as they ran around like nutters, enjoying their afternoon tea. Very impressive! He does remote drawings too, starting at just £11, so I would definitely recommend checking him out.
I woke up the next morning feeling so refreshed, in the comfiest bed. Tors Park don’t allow dogs on the beds, so we bought our snuggly anti-anxiety dog bed by Silentnight with us. They slept beside me and even let me lie in until 7am – which is late for these very excitable pugs!
We had bacon and eggs for breakfast, which we enjoyed on the terrace, along with a French press filled with coffee. I bought my own Illy ground coffee, as I am a bit of a coffee snob and like it strong! It was a beautiful day, so after our breakfast, we decided to head down to Lynmouth to explore what the town had to offer.
As you leave the car park and make it back to the main road on Countisbury Hill, you can join a trail across the road which takes you down to the beach. The trail winds down the side of the hill, so it’s a nice, quick route down. Oscar stopped a few times to gnaw at an exposed tree root, thinking it was a stick, but otherwise, we made it to the bottom in about 10 minutes.
As soon as the boys saw the water, they raced right to it. They aren’t really fans of getting wet, but they enjoy strolling along the edge, dipping the odd paw in. Oscar doesn’t just have a love of collecting sticks, but he enjoys collecting pebbles also. If you put him on a beach, he will almost immediately start searching for a good-sized rock and dig it out, bring it over to show you, then spend some time burying and unburying it, over and over.
What we didn’t realise at the time – and I felt very bad about this – is that Oscar dug so hard that he filed his nails down to the quick. We are used to sandy beaches on the Isle of Wight, so this is never an issue. It’s safe to say we will be limiting his digging in future – and he was also banned from walking on hard surfaces for a good few weeks.
Henry and Dylan weren’t quite so adventurous – choosing to potter around and take in the sniffs that the beach had to offer. The view from the rocky beach is just magical. You can see the cliffs curve around and stick further out to sea in the distance – it looked like we were on some exotic beach rather than somewhere in the UK. Of course, we had to stop for fish and chips – or battered sausage and chips in my case.
The usual seaside shops can be found in Lynmouth, from cafes and restaurants to gift shops and even several fudge shops. We didn’t go into every single shop, but the ones we did visit were dog-friendly, and some even had water bowls outside, so I’d reckon it’s safe to say the majority of shops allow dogs too.
A cool aspect of Lynmouth and Lynton is the cliff railway that connects them. It takes you 500ft up the cliff to Lynton, and the cost is minimal. Two carriages actually run at the same time: one going up, the other going down. You can drive your car the five minutes up to Lynton, but in my opinion, this is way more fun! The doggos were allowed onboard, and the views were beautiful. You could see the entirety of Lynmouth, the beach, and the river – the sunny weather made everything look 10 times prettier too! You could either sit or stand in the carriage, depending on how you or your dog feel about heights. The whole experience only takes a few minutes, and you exit right next to The Cliff Top Café, in the heart of Lynton.
Lynton is a small town, but is a lot bigger than Lynmouth. There are more shops, cafes, restaurants and even a cinema, town hall, and art galleries. Apparently the cinema allows dogs – but we decided not to go, as the pugs tend to bark at anything and everything on TV.
Of course, while we were in Lynton we had to visit The Lyn Valley Dog House. This amazing dog shop is owned by Jacquie, the genius behind the dog-friendly tea party and Tors Park’s dog welcome packs. Not only does she sell toys, poop bags, collars, leads, and lots of natural treats like beef tails and chicken feet, she also sells novelty treats like dog friendly chocolate bars, scones, cupcakes, and treat bags.
As soon as we walked in, the boys went crazy, knowing yummy treats were nearby. What kind of pug Mum would I be if I didn’t get them a treat? Jacquie is very knowledgeable, and helped me choose a few goodies that would (hopefully) keep Oscar and Henry occupied in the car on the long drive home. I also bought my very own Cocopup dog walking bag, which I am very excited about!
After our shopping trip, we headed back to the apartment to enjoy a glass of wine and some olives on the terrace. It was honestly such a beautiful afternoon, with the sun shining directly on the terrace. A much needed break after a long morning exploring Lynmouth and Lynton.
Once our legs had recovered, we decided to walk the Watersmeet route. It’s a National Trust owned site and is made up of …………
I woke up super early, to experience sunrise and it did not disappoint! I took the boys out onto the terrace with my cafetière of coffee and we got snug in the blankets to enjoy the beautiful view. Check-out was 10am, so after a delicious breakfast on the terrace, we packed our bags and filled the car, ready for our last day in Devon.
We had been recommended a local dog walk – Valley of The Rocks, which sounded beautiful and allowed the boys to work off any energy they had before the long journey. We literally drove for a few minutes before arriving at a large car park, which you do need to pay to park in. It’s worth mentioning that you can walk from Lynton, but we were a bit limited for time.
The Valley of the Rocks was full of large rock formations (as the name states) and ran along the coast. There were a lot of walkers following different trails up the hills or along the edge of the cliffs. You can see miles of coastline running off into the distance, and I got as close to the edge as I dared to take some photos of the view. Wild goats roamed the area, and they were obviously used to humans being around, as they let you get quite close. It would be an ideal picnic spot on a warm day!
We stayed at Valley of Rocks for around two hours, which included the walk itself, time spent talking to the goats and an obligatory pug photoshoot. I was also excited to get the drone up to capture some footage. I may have also crashed it into a rock, but it lived to tell the tale!
After our walk at Valley of the Rocks, we started the long journey back to the Isle of Wight. We were recommended a pub, which was absolutely incredible – The Beckford Arms, in Wilshire. It was around a two and a half hour journey to the pub, which meant we were ready for a break and a much needed lunch.
I had a buttermilk chicken burger, with fries and a glass of white and Rosie had the sirloin steak, with a glass of red. We finished our meals off with rice pudding for Rosie and the tastiest profiteroles I have ever eaten. It turns out they have other pubs around the UK and even accommodation, so we may have to take a trip.
We let the dogs out in the garden to do their business, before continuing with the hour and a half long journey back to Portsmouth, to catch our ferry to Fishbourne. We missed our ferry (by a matter of minutes) because we spent too long enjoying our desert. But Wightlink are really flexible, so allowed us onto the next ferry. We parked the car up and headed through to Gunwharf for a much needed coffee and a cheeky look (I should say shop) in Rituals. When we did eventually get on the ferry, the sun was setting, which made for a beautiful journey back. We opted to sit on the outside deck to take in the view and enjoy the last 40 minutes of our holiday.
Top tips for your stay in Lynmouth:
- There is no food shop in Lynmouth and only a small Londis in Lynton. The closest supermarket is 18 miles away. We would suggest ordering a Sainsbury’s shop direct to the apartment, to save you having to go on the hunt for food.
- Definitely visit The Lyn Valley Dog House. Even if you don’t need anything. Jacquie has some wonderful dog-friendly recommendations and is so lovely!
- Bring a dog bed and plenty of blankets, so you can keep the dogs off the furnishings, while still being able to get cosy.
- Most shops and restaurants open at 10am in Lynmouth, so we don’t recommend leaving your apartment too early.