The National Trust has opened the Buttery tea-room at Lorna Doone Valley, meaning visitors to the North Devon coast will be able to tuck into a top quality cream tea by the River Badgworthy, nestled in the dramatic Exmoor landscape that inspired RD Blackmore’s much loved book. Every penny donated or spent at the tea-room will be reinvested on the Exmoor Coast helping people and nature thrive.
In early 2020 the National Trust acquired Lorna Doone Farm and nearby Cloud Farm Campsite just before the COVID-19 lockdown as a gateway to Lorna Doone’s inspiring Exmoor landscape. The Trust’s ambition is that the acquisition will encourage more people to invest in their wellbeing and benefit from spending time in the outdoors, noticing nature and spotting some of the wildlife that the charity cares for in the area such as water voles and some of the UK’s rarest butterflies. This all comes at a time when the National Trust’s aim of providing nature, beauty and history for everyone, for ever is more relevant than ever – and every cup of tea and scone enjoyed at the picturesque spot will help the charity look after wildlife and woodland the Trust cares for in that area.
Since the Trust took on Lorna Doone and Cloud Farm Campsite, there has been lots of improvement work. At Lorna Doone, the tea-room is now open and it has been refurbished, so it’s a welcoming place to sit by the river with a delicious cream tea. There’s the usual great cup of tea and coffee on offer, as well as a choice of light lunches, such as pasties and cold snacks. There are also two holiday cottages at Lorna Doone, a lovely spot for a retreat away from it all.
At Cloud Farm Campsite, there’s also been work over the last few months to improve the site facilities (including revamped toilets/showers) and the site re-opened on the 17 May.
The landscape is hugely popular for walking, riding and cycling and is well connected via public rights of way to other National Trust places including Watersmeet, a 5-mile walk along the East Lyn river (which features in the novel).
April Braund, Visitor Experience Manager for the National Trust reflected, ‘For those familiar with the book, RD Blackmore’s descriptions of the Exmoor landscape, where our tea-room and facilities nestle, bring it to life as “a deep green valley, carved from out the mountains in a perfect oval…wooded hills swept up to the sky-line…a little river glided out from underground with a soft dark babble, unawares of daylight; then growing brighter, lapsed away, and fell into the valley.”
She continued, ‘There’s plenty to be seen on a walk through the valley that matches the settings in the book and we are hoping that by making this beautiful spot more accessible to more people, we can encourage more people to connect with nature. It also links to the Coleridge Way which takes you through the Exmoor landscape as far as the National Trust’s Coleridge Cottage.’
Kev Davies, Lead Ranger for the area, enthused ‘The countryside in and around the Lorna Doone Valley is a great place for seeing wildlife. There’s red deer at Watersmeet, peregrines and further afield on the Holnicote Estate, beavers and water voles. Britain’s wildlife is in trouble with over 50% of species in decline and we want to help reverse the decline in wildlife on land in our care.’
He continued, “There’s plenty of historical interest too, Badgworthy, the fictional home of the Doones, is within an easy walk from the car park at Lorna Doone. It is a now a ruined settlement (thought to date from the 12th century) but in the book it was where the Doone stone huts were ‘built on the banks of this river.’ There’s also the 17th century stone bridge over the river outside the tea-room in Malmsmead which is mentioned in the book too.’
When you visit the tea-room or park for parking at Lorna Doone every penny donated or spent onsite will be reinvested on the Exmoor Coast helping people and nature thrive.