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The Barn at Scorriton
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Close Apple Garden, Near Buckfastleigh, Devon TQ11 0JB
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A mixed bag on Dartmoor
Portsmouth, United Kingdom
September 2, 2012
Best of IgoUgo
Having planned to go to Cornwall for a few days in August, my son, his partner and I decided to stop for a night on Dartmoor on the way. They had been there for a few days earlier in the year, but in April I checked the farmhouse where they had ...
Having planned to go to Cornwall for a few days in August, my son, his partner and I decided to stop for a night on Dartmoor on the way. They had been there for a few days earlier in the year, but in April I checked the farmhouse where they had stayed and found it had no vacancies. I looked for somewhere nearby that was a reasonable price and had parking, and I came across the Barn in the village of Scoriton near Buckfastleigh. All except one of the reviews on Tripadvisor were full of praise for the place, and it looked fine in the photos. The Barn only has two rooms, and I went ahead and booked them both for a night in August. The double room was £65 and the single £40. Payment had to be made at the time of booking, and I did so by credit card. I received a confirmation email that listed the facilities in the rooms and gave detailed instructions of how to get to the barn by car and where the nearest railway stations and airports were.
On the day, we had an early evening meal just outside Widecombe-in-the-Moor and then set off along the narrow Dartmoor roads while it was still light to find the Barn, which was about eight miles away. We managed to find the village of Scoriton easily enough, but the satnav didn’t quite take us to our destination. The car seemed to have had enough of Dartmoor, so I got out and wandered around to have a look. In the end I asked a man driving a tractor at the village farm, and it turned out that the Barn was just down a side road. There was a short driveway and plenty of parking space. We rang the bell and waited a few minutes for Pat Dinning, the proprietress, to come down and open up. Her friendly dog came with her and was glad of a bit of fuss.
We followed Pat through the lobby, decorated in a purposely old fashioned style, to our rooms, both of which were on the ground floor. Mine had a queen size bed and a walk-in shower and toilet in one corner of the room and could have served as a double room. The other room was slightly larger with two single beds pushed together; the shower and toilet were separate and just outside of the room itself, so it was rather like a small apartment. I went through to the double room so that Annie could give us the introductory talk all together. She showed us that there was a small hospitality cupboard where cups, glasses, hot drinks, sugar, milk and biscuits were kept. As well as ordinary tea there was Earl Grey and chamomile; there was no decaffeinated coffee, but there was drinking chocolate. A torch was also provided in the cupboard in case anyone wanted to go for a walk in the evening and came back in the dark. Annie also showed us the slips of paper used for ordering grapefruit and cooked breakfast items. She asked if we would each fill one in and leave them on the table in the hall that evening.
I went back to my room and had to admit that everything looked very pretty. Mine was called "The Butterfly Room" and the larger one was "The Pre-Raphaelite Room", and the artwork reflected these names. There were scatter cushions on the bed and I moved these over to the luggage stand. The hand basin was in the room itself and hand wash was provided as well as shower gel, a shower cap and emery boards. The wardrobe was a little on the small side and might have been a squeeze for two people staying a week. The flat-screen television was high up in a corner of the room in a convenient place to be watched from the bed. One thing that did strike me as strange was that the window had frosted glass and couldn’t be opened. There was a huge radiator along one side of the wall, so I would imagine the room would be very warm in winter.
After a few minutes my son came to find me and said that they had noticed some specks of dirt on their quilt and that they had had to lift it up and give it a good shake. They thought it looked as though the dog might have been on there. We had a look at the white quilt on my bed and sure enough there were quite a few specks of dirt, so we shook them onto the floor. It did seem a little strange that the rooms were so prettily furnished but that the quilts weren’t as clean as they should have been.
My mattress was extremely comfortable and I slept as well as I would have expected to in a strange bed. I did notice when I got up in the morning that the air coming through the window was very chilly, and this was August. It made me think that it would have made sense to put double glazing in; this would surely bring the heating bill down. We wanted to make an early start on our journey to Cornwall, so at about 7.10am I decided to have a shower. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get any hot water and had to suffer a cold shower. I was not impressed. When I saw my son I asked if he had had a shower; he had had one the night before and there had been hot water. There had, however, been a problem with their room. They had noticed a damp patch on the ceiling and a musty smell - my son’s partner had had to spray deodorant around the room to cover up the smell! I had a look and was surprised how much condensation there was on their window.
Breakfast is served between 8am and 9am in a room that seemed almost like one laid out for a medieval banquet. I noticed that there was an Aga and it dawned on me that it couldn’t yet have been lit when I tried to have my shower; I would have thought we’d have been warned about that. It was Pat’s husband Andy who greeted us and served breakfast. My son and his partner had asked for fresh grapefruit and this was already waiting for them. We were impressed by the three revolving circular boards on the table. The central one was used for preserves, Flora, sauces and cruet while the other two were for teapots, cafetieres and dishes of butter. On a dresser by a wall were various kinds of cereal and fruit pots. I decided to have a pot of mandarin oranges. There was also orange juice on the table, and a loaf of fresh homemade wholemeal bread, several slices of which had been cut. My son ordered tea and his partner and I asked for coffee. The china service was beautiful, and I admired the silver napkin rings too. I had chosen to have oak smoked kippers and these were soon brought in a generous portion. Andy sliced some more bread for us when he saw how much we were enjoying it. Apart from a hotel where I stayed in Zurich three years ago, the breakfast at the Barn was the best I have had in any hotel or guest house.
We had told Pat the evening before that we were travelling to Cornwall and she very kindly gave us a print-out of a route we could take over Dartmoor and the sights we could see on the way. Unfortunately the car had been showing signs of stress because of the Dartmoor roads the day before, and we decided we had better head straight for the A38. Before leaving we took a few photographs of the garden flowers at the Barn and admired the view of the hills.
I felt it was a real shame that the Barn looked so good on the surface but that there had been problems such as the damp in the larger room, the lack of hot water early in the morning and the cold air I felt coming through the window in my room. The breakfast was excellent, but the question of specks of dirt on the quilts could so easily have been dealt with. It is hard to know whether to recommend this place or not. I would have to say I could recommend the smaller room I stayed in during the summer, but I couldn’t recommend the larger one unless the problem of the damp atmosphere is addressed.
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