In a land of hawks and horses, close by Allerford’s iconic Packhorse Bridge, sits Allerford Country House. High above the Exmoor coast where the water thrashes the cliffs and ripples over soft sand, Allerford is the perfect family escape, with three playrooms, six acres of gardens and a homely spirit as huge as the house itself.
Eat and drink in the baronial dining room with space for 30, or on the wraparound terrace with the breeze from the bay tickling the wisteria that hangs from the walls. In the gardens, tennis is top of the agenda on the hardcourt. Inside, games rooms offer pool, table football, large-screen TV, board games, consoles and cards.
Explore Exmoor, then bring worn-out kids home to family get-togethers on squishy leather sofas. Top off the day in local maritime pubs or restaurants serving local oysters, lamb or venison washed down with cider. Sleep deeply to the sound of the wind in the trees and the distant rumble of the washing waves.
These are tranquil surroundings that don’t lose the outside world. From the wraparound terrace, views over the village to Dunkery Beacon and along the Bristol Channel prove you’re very much at the heart of things. High up above the Vale of Porlock, this is the best view in the west.
Six acres of grass and woodland are yours to explore. Wisteria and magnolia cling to the property, offering a magnificent backdrop. The south-facing hillside sucks up the sun. Snowdrops come early in springtime. And the water garden’s myriad paths and bridges network among giant gunera leaves above darting brown trout.
Out there among the canna, crinodendron, clerodendrum, ginkgo biloba and other sub-tropical plants is the hard tennis court. Play a set or two in the sunshine, sink some balls on the putting green, then spark up the barbie on the terrace, crack open a bottle and take in the views.
The 40-foot living room at Allerford Country House was made for getting together. You could throw a party for 200 here. But you might just enjoy curling up with your loved ones in front of the roaring fire with a tasty snack, a long drink and a party game or two. With seating for 30, no one’s going to feel left out.
Need to escape for a little personalised TV viewing? There’s a telly room here for adults and one for kids, which also offers a PS4 games console and a 55″ HD smart TV. There’s fast wifi on tap, table football and a pool table ready to roll in the games room. Escape to the quieter version for chess and cards.
Spaces here convey a sense of peace and good living. The quiet drifts in from the Vale of Porlock through the open windows, settling on the coffee tables and Chesterfields, and inviting you to take tea, tinkle the ivories, chat or just chill. Leave here and the feeling of calm and wellbeing stays with you. At least for a week or so.
Get everyone together beneath the beams around the dining table to butter bread, sip wine and make plans. Cook up hearty family fare on the three ovens in the main kitchen with six-burner induction range, or the two ovens in the secondary kitchen. Two microwaves help spread the load even further.
Get the barbie going and eat on the terrace above views of the village and Dunkery Beacon. If you’d prefer to put your feet up, call up our chef. Whether it’s a one-off celebration, drop-off meals or a fully catered break, Claire’s Kitchen will rustle up fresh fare from the wilds of Exmoor.
Eating out? Make sure you try local delicacies Porlock oysters, whortleberries, venison or lamb, all washed down with Somerset cider. First stop should be the Ship Inn in Porlock, with a menu loaded with family favourites, a log fire in winter and outdoor seating and children’s play area in summer.
Eat on the harbour at Minehead’s Old Ship Aground, with food from its own farm. Enjoy local meat, fish and cheese at the Blue Ball in Countisbury. Go Italian at Mandala Pizza and Salad Emporium. Enjoy bass or duck breast at upmarket Cross Lanes in Allerford, or pan-fried lemon sole at The Coleridge in Dunster.
No shortage of snooze space here, and it’s all newly refurbished, with luxury cotton sheets, mattresses that challenge you to get up in the morning, and achingly beautiful views across the valley. Allerford Country House sleeps 30 in 15 bedrooms, with just the 14 bathrooms.
Ash is an en-suite superking that converts to a twin. With level access and a disabled wet room, it’s perfect for anyone with mobility issues. Badgeworthy is a twin, also with level access, while Chetsford is a superking or twin with level ground-floor access. Danes Brook and Greenaleigh are kingsize with interconnecting doors.
Heddon is the bridal/master suite, Ivystone is a twin, and Jennifried and Martinhoe are all superkings that convert to twins. Nutscale is a kingsize that shares a bathroom with Oare, a superking or twin.