As an interior design practice with studio spaces in Hampshire and Cornwall, we regularly travel along the south coast, so I’m always looking out for lovely places to stop at en route. It’s a long drive, and for me the ideal break is somewhere that gives my mind a breather from concentrating on the road. Somewhere calm, somewhere refreshing. Call me picky, but a standard service station offering, with its neon bright signs, far from comfy plastic chairs, flashing slot machines and an overriding smell of chip fat just doesn’t quite cut it.
So I was excited recently, when we unearthed exactly the sort of pitstop that spoke my language. A little gem of a place that’s almost tempting to keep to ourselves; a secret not to be shared. But that’s not really how things should work when it comes to supporting other businesses, so I’m happy to devote an entire blog post to our new secret stopover, just moments from Honiton and the A30.
Heron Farm (EX14 3NZ in your Satnav) is an orchard and a vineyard – it sounds idyllic already doesn’t it? Whether you’ve stepped off the A303 from London or have hurtled down the A35, its 17-acres of farmland are super conveniently placed, a mile off the A30 and yet it feels galaxies away from the relentless whizzing of the dual carriageway. A sanctuary, at the perfect point in our journey when I’m itching to turn off the ignition.
Depending on how long you’re planning on stopping for, you can book a vineyard tour in advance, otherwise you can mooch about its little shop before planting yourself in its Vineyard Kitchen café as we did. Set in the most beautifully planted walled kitchen garden with its own little rill and the calming soundtrack of trickling water, the drudgery of the drive was forgotten within minutes of settling down and erased completely after a Devon cream tea served in fine bone China.
Our experience was a perfectly peaceful one, having arrived just shy of closing time at 4pm, and while lunchtimes are bound to be more bustling, we’ll be back in a heartbeat to sample their sandwiches and salads. Maybe we’ll go all out with its charming tiered afternoon tea with a bottle of its award winning wine to enjoy when we reach our final destination. A glass of Heron Farm English sparkling at the end of a long day doesn’t sound like a bad plan at all in fact…