CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

A real destination: The Turf Hotel, Exminster

PUBLISHED: 09:57 27 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:57 27 June 2017

The Turf Hotel, Exminster

The Turf Hotel, Exminster

© 2015 Jules Wensley Photography

In his regular series of columns for Devon Life, Patrick McCaig of The Otter Brewery takes us on a trawl of some of his favourite pubs

What makes a destination pub? Many claim the title but can it be quantified? Well for me it comes down to three key things: location, personality and what’s actually on offer. I’d argue that personality (both of owner and building) possibly steals the number one spot. It’s rare you get all three and rarer still they last a decent chunk of time.

Sitting at the end of its own spit of land near Exminster Marshes the Turf is what you can call a real ‘destination’ and enjoys something of a legendary status in these parts. With the Powderham Estate stretching out on one side and the Exe Estuary on the other - the boats sheltering behind the lock most surely doubling as potting sheds for their owners – why would you leave?

The best part is you can’t drive here. It seems remote but actually isn’t - you simply walk, cycle, kayak or ferry over from Topsham to find your supper. Most landlords’ main concern is getting people to their pub, but not here - customers absolutely love the challenge.

Run by Clive and Ginny and their son Ollie, just like us, they are now into their 28th year. So here I am, lured on foot to the end of the canal to find out exactly what makes the Turf sing. An estate agent by trade, Clive was working quite happily in the family practice when in the late eighties the industry began to change. Ginny meanwhile had a fruit and veg shop in the city, having also completed a catering course at Exeter College. Soon they were looking at pubs and towards the end of 1989 a friend mentioned that the Turf was on the market.

Back then the place was falling down and neither one had any prior experience as publicans. Undeterred, by March 1990 they were the new custodians of this Grade II listed former lock keeper’s cottage. Ginny’s dad mucked in to help re-wire and re-plumb the building and without a cloud in the sky for the next two months they were in at the deep end - first the water ran out, then the beer, whilst above them the B&B groaned. Pub life beckoned!

Open only from March to October the business is also their home. During the winter the timber framed slate hung building rattles and creaks and even moves a little. It wakes from hibernation just as the land does and soon slips into a comfortable gear feeding and rehydrating the adventurous. Our own foray into the locally sourced menu rewarded us with pan-fried Powderham venison steaks reared just a few miles away – perfect with a pint.

Looking out of the big bay windows the huge beer garden appears extremely adaptable. There’s a yurt romantically perched at the end, room for camping, a marquee, barbecue area to complement the kitchen and new for this year a ‘pop-up’ bar by the water serving our cask ales.

The outside areas are perfect for cyclists and families on the hoof whilst the ‘cook your own’ gas barbecue stations (they supply everything) make a great birthday present or novel idea for an affordable wedding reception.

The Turf is a cheeky, lovely and happy place. Clive and Ginny’s personalities have been wired into the pub over the years to create one of Exeter’s most iconic destinations where the world just sails by. Go and explore!

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

SU CARROLL breaks bread with charismatic Devon restaurateur Edmond Davari as he embarks on a new venture

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

We hooked up with RACHAEL JOWITT, head roaster for leading South West coffee roastery, Voyager Coffee, to hear how the business is developing

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

From pale ale and real cider to craft beer, Devon is home to a number of real ale breweries and CAMRA award-winners, meaning a good pub is never far away – we pick 16 places to go in Devon to find the best pint

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Devon Life’s readers and followers have been voting for their favourite food & drink stars and we can now reveal our winners who were honoured at our glamorous ceremony at Sandy Park on November 15

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Public Houses are a cornerstone of life here in Britain, dating back as far as the Roman invasion in 43 AD. Devon is no different and its humble establishments are steeped in history and nostalgia. We’ve taken a look at 11 of the county’s most historical pubs

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A traditional Christmas pudding recipe, served with clotted cream and a brandy Crème Anglaise with a dash of cognac

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

Whether you have strawberry or raspberry jam on your scones, or prefer Earl Grey to English breakfast tea, we’ve found 12 of the best tearooms that Devon has to offer

Read more
Monday, October 22, 2018

We’ve spoken to award-winning chef Michael Caines MBE to find out more about Lympstone Manor’s wine celebration evenings and when their new vineyard will produce its first bottle of wine

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Sunday lunch is an enduring British institution that’s incredibly important to get right. We’ve chosen 12 places in Devon that will guarantee sublime stuffing, mouth-watering meats and Yorkshire pudding perfection.

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

As the winter begins to close in, there’s nowhere better to take refuge than one of Devon’s many cosy pubs. Here are 9 you should look for when needing to escape the nippy British weather

Read more
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Check out Michael Caines’ column in the latest issue of Devon Life where you can read more about what this recipe will be perfect with

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

We reveal the winner of Devon’s Tea Room / Coffee Shop of the Year. Sponsored by Radio Exe

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

We reveal the winner of Devon’s Best Sunday Roast. Sponsored by cottages.com

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

We reveal the winner of the Pub of the Year award. Sponsored by WBW Solicitors

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search