There is no question that for my wife and I, The Old Sweet Shop really is the very best of Exmoor holiday cottages. Lockdown has only made us even more appreciative.
The impact of Coronavirus and lockdown on international travel
Indeed, the attraction of cruises, Caribbean shores and snow-covered slopes had an altogether different appeal than they do right now. In June, my wife and I were heading to Ibiza for some ‘her time!’ However, those plans are of course now rescheduled for late August. Similarly, there is no certainty that any normality of foreign holidays will return by then. In fact, COVID-19 has forever changed our whole attitude to airports, aeroplanes, and foreign destinations.
As soon as lockdown lifts, we’re going to The Old Sweet Shop
Thankfully, when essential-only travel does not restrict us, I know precisely where we will be heading. Not just to the Somerset seaside setting of Minehead, but to the familiarity and tranquillity of The Old Sweet Shop. Indeed, here we can relax in the hot-tub and snuggle up in front of a crackling real fire.
Our very first visit to this cottage in Minehead
In February 2018 we had the privilege of being the very first visitors to the newly renovated and re-thatched cottage tucked away in Upper Minehead. That visit, the first of three, coincided with a depth of snowfall rarely seen in West Somerset. As a result, we were unable to drive for a few days. However, it made us explore more of what was immediately around us.
A dog-friendly holiday cottage has our Spaniels’ approval
Minehead out-of-season, when our Spaniels may access the beach, is brilliant for dog lovers. You can simply walk along the sands towards Dunster and back. Alternatively, if you’re more adventurous (and fitter!) make it a circular walk and come back across the hills looking down onto Minehead. Locked-in by the deep snow, we explored the woods easily accessible from Upper Minehead. We discovered some great walks where the dogs could run free and had the joy of seeing Red Deer bounding through the snow. Indeed, we’re not the only ones who think Stone Barn is the best of Exmoor Holiday Cottages!
A great self-catering base for historic wanderings or just enjoyable close-by walks
On other occasions, we have driven the short distance to Medieval Dunster. We’ve explored the National Trust castle, to the Quantock Hills. The journey has continued along the coast to Porlock Weir with its intriguing sea marsh and battlefield-esque trees. We’ve then taken the opposite direction to Watchet Harbour with its quaint houses and shops. But mostly we just walk from The Old Sweet Shop towards Minehead harbour. We meander along the beach towards Dunster, and back through Minehead itself where the Apple Tree Tea Rooms welcome our dogs more than us! The seascape changes with every walk. Somerset, we
discovered, has the second-highest rise and fall of tide in the world – and we can walk down by the water’s edge or through the sand dunes that protect the golf course from the sea breeze.
Eating and drinking locally
Most of Minehead’s cafes are dog-friendly. There’s a good choice of restaurants; our favourite being The Old Ship Aground in the Harbour. This by appearances looks a little scruffy from the outside, but the food is exceptional and the dogs can come with us too! For a more expensive treat, Dunster offers the Luttrell Arms and Reeves Restaurant. Moreover, if you’re having a holiday-tipple, a taxi to and from Dunster is very reasonable, too.
A hot tub, cosy fire – it’s the perfect post COVID-19 retreat!
The Old Sweet Shop is exquisitely furnished and with the hot-tub and real fire that we don’t have at home it is exactly where we will be heading down the M5 to with Lola and Charlie when all this is over, and I for one can’t wait. It really is the very best of Exmoor holiday cottages.
Hear Duncan in conversation with Lucy and David about his holidays in Minehead staying at The Old Sweet Shop and Pilgrim Corner.
So many of our guests have shared wonderful stories about their stays with us – please do enjoy reading as many as you would like. As you can see, different things resonate with different guests. It is a delight to see so many reasons that attract people to our cottages, and this stunning part of England.