Call me biased, but the climate in my home county of Devon is ideal for venturing into the great outdoors. There is also the added bonus of glorious scenery. On a peaceful summer afternoon, there are fewer pastimes more relaxing than fly fishing. To that end, Blakewell, near Barnstaple, is hard to beat. A fresh water lake, fed by an Exmoor spring. Established 30 years ago, its one objective was to provide the ultimate fly fishing experience in an idyllic location. The result has been a resounding success.
The lake covers five acres and its main resource is trout. Stacks of them. No need to worry about flies either as damsel and sedges are found in abundance. The lake’s shoreline couldn’t be better for back casting and because its stock is constant, landing that prized catch is virtually guaranteed. Remember to bring a sizeable landing net because the trout have been known to reach up to 20 lbs. No need to worry if you’re a complete novice, Blakewell will also provide fly fishing tuition – by arrangement – for £35 per hour including all tackle.
Family groups with young children are more than welcome at Blakewell’s Family Pond. Whether feeding the trout or catching some in the children’s lake, it’s educational but most of all, it’s fun. Entry to the Family Pond is free, and any trout caught will be cleaned and packed for you to take home. For more details, go to www.blakewell.co.uk or call 01271-344533.
Blakewell’s Pond Shop is a great place to visit for those essential garden pond supplies. Goldfish and koi are stocked as well as liners pumps and filters. If you’re in need of help or information, the Pond Shop staff will be more than happy. The Farm Shop carries probably the best rainbow trout in the county, freshly caught from the lake. Add to this a wide selection of fresh produce and you are guaranteed healthy additions to your larder. The Farm Shop is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.
If you are planning a break near Blakewell, superb accommodation is on offer. The self-catering holiday cottages at Combrew Farm have built an international reputation for comfort and relaxation. They cater for short and long-term breaks for parties and family groups large and small. Their on-site facilities include sauna, indoor pool, badminton and tennis courts as well as an adventure playground for the kids. The centrally heated cottages have wood burners, and with double glazing, outside temperatures don’t matter. Accommodation is available year round, but it’s recommended guests book early. For details and booking information call 01271-373834.
Courtyard Cottage near Barnstaple is a delightful self-catering accommodation featuring a huge log burning open fire. The cottage is an annexe to the farmhouse at Plaistow Barton and can be rented for short or weekly breaks. You’re only two miles away from Blakewell and close to the wilds of Exmoor – ideal for hiking. After a hard day’s hiking or fishing, what could be better than relaxing in front of the cottage’s log fire or sampling some southwestern hospitality at the nearby Muddiford Inn Restaurant – a one time coaching inn. Whatever your choice, you are guaranteed a warm north Devon welcome. Courtyard Cottage is available year round. www.plaistowbarton.co.uk has more details.