The best thing about rural Devon is that feeling of getting away from it all – and perhaps the loveliest corner is that around Totnes and Salcombe Bay.

We knew we were leaving the rat race when we left the main roads and hit the country lanes and began doubting the sat nav. The roads grew narrower and the sides seemed to close in on us, rising like river banks and exposing the roots of the trees arching above us.

In the dark, we felt as if we were driving into Narnia. Then we arrived – and it still felt a bit like a secret world.

We knew we had reached our destination for the weekend, Gitcombe House, when we saw its stone pillar, made the descent down the driveway – and were greeted by the cheery owner Peter, who showed us to our cottage – one of a cluster of eight exclusive luxury holiday cottages, with heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools and log fires, tucked away in a private, south Devon valley, between Dartmouth and Totnes.

Despite the long journey, and being desperate to get into our beds in our boutique bolthole, we just had to stop outside our cottage and look up at the sky.

The darkness was incredible. Even though we live in a village in Oxfordshire with no street lighting, we are never far away from light pollution. The Devon sky was such a deep black and the stars so clear and bright, that it felt like looking into space. Even our six-year-old daughter looked up in amazement, and she never stays still for long!

We stayed in a cottage called Yenadon, at the end of a renovated barn. The entrance door took us to the first floor, which is an open-plan kitchen/dining/living area. The kitchen is very modern and stylish, equipped with top-of-the range appliances and everything else one may need for a self-catering holiday or break.

Our daughter’s favourite thing wasn’t the flat-screen TV, surprisingly, but the American style fridge with in-built water/ice dispenser. It certainly encouraged her to drink plenty of water during our stay.

From the living area, patio doors take you out onto a beautiful, private terrace with stylish patio furniture, a barbecue, and magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. Also from the living area, a flight of stairs takes you down to the ground floor where you find a bathroom and two bedrooms, one with a further bathroom en-suite.

Again, all the rooms are finished to the highest standard with very modern, sleek and stylish fittings and heated wooden and tiled floors throughout.

I liked that many of the original features had been kept, such as exposed beams and stone work with added touches like rounded corners and rustic doors with latch fittings. There is a lovely balance of luxurious and homely. The mobile phone signal isn’t great, but the free Wifi made up for that.

Totally family-friendly it is designed with parents in mind, with children’s crockery and cutlery, stair gates and cots, a box of toys, highchairs and ample storage space.

If the weather turns sour or if you fancy having a day in, Gitcombe offers plenty to do. You can go for a swim in the heated outdoor and indoor pools, or relax in the sauna, steam room or hot tub while enjoying the views over the grounds and the Dartmoor National Park.

Children will appreciate use of the tennis court, basketball net, boules court and the wonderful wooden adventure playground with swings for children and grown-ups!

Each private terrace comes with a barbecue, or you can spend the evening by the log fire with a glass of complimentary wine and a taste of Devon fudge.

As this was our first trip to this part of Devon, we set out to visit a beach, go rock pooling and crabbing, savour the local seafood and, of course, tuck into a Devon cream tea.

For the first time we saw all the narrow lanes in daylight, still delivering a sense of a distant world and of being in the middle of nowhere, even though there are plenty of attractions within 30 minutes’ drive. The first beach we visited had great rock pools (watch out for hefty parking fees, though).

Suffice to say, we paddled, rock pooled, and even got that Devon crab – and a cream tea later on, as we gazed at the shimmering sea. Then it was back to Gitcombe for a dip in the pool a soak in the spa – and the best sleep I can remember. This is what weekends away are all about. Perfect!

  • Gitcombe Cottages, Cornworthy, Totnes, Devon.
  • For details go to or call 01803 712 678, 07707 538 260 or email
  • Prices: From £995, low season, seven nights, four people.
  • Oxford Times readers can claim a 10 per cent discount, quoting voucher code: ON10, until March 31, 2018. Please quote offer at time of booking. One offer applicable at any one time