Just a few hours from London, the wild and picturesque coast of North Devon makes for an easy autumn break.
The brand new Wildwood Spa is now available to rent and is the perfect place to stay on a weekend ... [+] trip to North DevonAlexander Edwards for Wayfair
North Devon is known for its dramatic, postcard-perfect coastline, much of which has been sanctioned for conservation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), an official label used only for the UK’s most exceptional landscapes. But this glorious stretch of coast isn’t just for summer: as the cooler months roll in and tourist numbers dwindle, the popular beauty spot relaxes and takes on a whole new beauty.
The north Devon coast near Lee Bay showing the steeply inclined slate strata of the Morte Slates ... [+] Formation - sedimentary bedrock formed in the Devonian Period. Taken from the South West coast path.getty
Top tip for North Devon no matter when you visit: Pack your hiking boots. The North Devon AONB encompasses about 66 square miles, much of which runs along the coast along the North Devon section of the famed and beloved South West Coast Path, the UK's longest National Trail. Left mostly to locals in October and November, the trail is both more peaceful and spectacular this time of year, as the scenery takes on the golden glow of the changing seasons. While you’ll need a wetsuit, water sports like surfing, kayaking and SUPing are still common in these months. For the best beach, it depends on who you ask (North Devon locals all claim to have the best beach), but popular spots include the laid-back surfer town of Woolacombe; the gorgeous little rocky cove haven of Lee Bay; and the secluded, sandy local favorite, Barricane Beach.
North Devon is known for its foodie credentials. There’s a good crop of fantastic independent shops like Mike Turton Butchers; S & P Fish Shop; Lee Meadow Farm Shop & Café; and Fine Foods of Braunton delicatessen. For a traditional cream tea with freshly baked scones, there’s The Naked Cake. Also, there are cute country pubs galore, such as The Grampus Inn, which serves ale from its own brewery and is based in a building that dates back to the fourteenth century. On the high-end side, there’s the Michelin-starred Thomas Carr 1873 by Chef Thomas Carr, who was born and raised in Woolacombe and Ilfracombe. Based in Ilfracombe’s former Victorian police station, Thomas Carr 1873 serves a fresh and local six-course tasting menu that is constantly changing based on seasonality.
The Nordic-inspired Wildwood Spa is clad in burnt timber (a modern application of the ancient ... [+] Japanese shou sugi ban technique) and features a living sedum roofAlexander Edwards for Wayfair
A sanctuary where cozy meets styles, the new luxury property, Wildwood Spa by Ravendere Retreats, is the place to stay on any trip to North Devon. Just launched this month on HomeToGo.co.uk, the world's largest collection of holiday rentals, Wildwood Spa is well-positioned on 12 acres of private woodland in the fairytale village of Lee. With chic Scandi-inflected interiors by wayfair.co.uk, the vibe is very much of the moment, with succulent-topped raw timber tables; mid-century leather wingback chairs; and jewel-toned sofas, snugly adorned with oversized knitted throws.
The cozy, comfortable lounge at the Wildwood SpaAlexander Edwards for Wayfair
Set over two levels and carved into the fern-carpeted hillside above a mossy green pond and tinkling waterfall, this cool cabin is clad in charred timber vertical louvres and laid out over two levels. The heated infinity pool/hot tub is the pièce de resistance; but there’s also a cedar sauna; open-air waterfall shower; and outdoor log fireplace on the upper deck. Other features include a cool MORSØ barbecue, a suspended bioethanol fireplace; and a small-but-chic fully fitted kitchen. The bedroom is particularly soothing with a four-poster bed; underfloor-heated polished concrete floors; and a freestanding matte-black bath, stocked with plenty of geranium- and lavender-scented Bramley bubble bath.
The warm and inviting bedroom at the Wildwood SpaAlexander Edwards for Wayfair
It’s all very tranquil, and the team at Ravendere Retreats (of The Treehouse fame), make it easy to fully relax by offering Exquisite Extras like spa treatments and private dining experiences. For a fantastic local treat, opt for an in-cabin dinner from Coastal Cooks with wine pairings by Crafty, by chef extraordinaire Graham Brundle, the one-time personal chef of Richard Branson on Necker Island.
North Devon can be reached in around three hours from London. Trains are available from London Paddington to Tiverton Parkway, and then it’s another one hour and fifteen minutes by car to reach Lee. Ravendere Retreats’ Wildwood Spa, brought to you by HomeToGo and Wayfair, is based in Crowness Cleave, Lee, EX34 8LN. Rates start at £375 for two adults. Book via HomeToGo.co.uk