6 of the best tearooms in Devon

PUBLISHED: 13:02 28 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:12 01 June 2020

The Guardhouse, Berry Head, Devon. Photo: Alex Foley

The Guardhouse, Berry Head, Devon. Photo: Alex Foley

Alex Foley

As lockdown restrictions are lifted in the coming weeks and restaurants and cafes look to reopen here are some of our favourite places to visit across Devon for cream teas and cake

Enjoy a Devon cream tea or a light lunch at the Guardhouse Cafe, Berry Head. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphotoEnjoy a Devon cream tea or a light lunch at the Guardhouse Cafe, Berry Head. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

1. Guardhouse Café, Berry Head Nature Reserve, Brixham, TQ5 9AW (01803 855778)

Situated within a Napoleonic fort, this is an out-of-the-ordinary setting and a very vibrant place in which to take tea – and other gustatory delights. Built in 1802, from inside the café you can still see part of the tunnel system which was constructed inside the fort. Map: OS Explorer OL 20 South Devon. Walk: Berry Head Nature Reserve juts into the sea, and an exploratory ramble offers stunning views and truly superb wildlife. Behind the headland the coast path stretches in both directions; there is a longish circular walk, heading south to Man Sands then following inland paths back to the start.

The Canal Tea Gardens, Tiverton, Devon. Photo: Alun DawsonThe Canal Tea Gardens, Tiverton, Devon. Photo: Alun Dawson

2. Canal Tea Rooms and Garden, Grand Western Canal, Tiverton, EX16 4HX (01884 252291)

This is a real sun-trap of a garden beside a pretty thatched cottage that boasts an eye-catching display of tea pots. Their smashed avocado on sour dough is particularly toothsome, alongside homemade lemonade (and the tea is good too!) Map: OS Explorer 114 Exeter & the Exe Valley Walk: The tea garden is adjacent to the basin of the Grand Western Canal whose towpath offers more than 11 miles of level walking through what was once part of our industrial heritage, but is now a long, narrow and beautiful country park. For a circular walk, follow the towpath to Manley Bridge, then make your way to the old railway line for a leafy stroll back to town. If you are walking in Devon have you tried this two-mile walk on the Jurassic coast?

Docton Mill tea room in North Devon. Photo: John BorrettDocton Mill tea room in North Devon. Photo: John Borrett

3. Docton Mill, Lymebridge, Hartland, EX39 6EA (01237 441369)

Voted the Best Tea Room in North Devon at the North Devon Food & Drink Awards, refreshment can be taken outside on the tea terrace. The mill has its roots in Saxon times, when its water power was used to produce flour. It continued to operate as a commercial mill until 1910 and is now renowned for its gardens as well as its teas. Map: OS Explorer 126, Clovelly and Hartland Walk: Docton Mill’s glorious wild flower gardens (separate entry charge) offer a delightful stroll in themselves. For the more adventurous, a footpath leads from the hamlet of Lymebridge, along Speke’s Mill Valley, to reach miles of superb walking along the coast path. North along the coast is the dramatic cliff scenery around Hartland Quay. A glance at the map shows many options for extensive routes.

The Primrose tearooms at Lustleigh. Photo: Vanessa RogersThe Primrose tearooms at Lustleigh. Photo: Vanessa Rogers

4. Primrose Tea Rooms, Lustleigh, TQ13 9QJ (01647 277365)

Nestled in an almost-too-pretty-to-be-real Dartmoor village this is another quintessentially English setting: a gorgeous thatched tea rooms with peaceful gardens, which are themselves arranged in ‘rooms’. I could have spent hours here, re-ordering the tea.Map: OS Explorer OL 28 Dartmoor Walk: Dartmoor offers countless miles of walking. Explore the village or head out west towards wooded Lustleigh Cleave. You can follow a circular walk on bridlepaths, through the cleave and heading up to the viewpoint on Hunters Tor.

5. Watersmeet, near Lynmouth, EX35 6NT (01598 753348)

I have Dutch friends who are serious walkers and coffee drinkers. Leading them through this wooded gorge, they were growing increasingly edgy, failing to believe that there was any chance of coffee in this hidden spot. Great was their joy when Watersmeet appeared. Built as a 19th century fishing lodge and ‘romantic retreat’ by Rev Walter Halliday, lord of the nearby Manor of Glenthorne, in 1901 it became a refreshment stop serving teas, which happy situation continues to this day courtesy of the National Trust. Map: OS Explorer OL 9, Exmoor Walk: A riverside path leads to Watersmeet from Lynmouth. There are many options for walks in the surrounding woodland, though the climb out of the gorge is steep. Perhaps climb north to Countisbury, returning along the coast path to Lynmouth, or head the other way, through Myrtleberry Cleave, joining the Two Moors Way back to the start.

6. The Old Bakery, Branscombe, EX12 3DB (01297 680333)

There is something utterly English about this place. Bee-rich gardens and an orchard wrap themselves around the cosily thatched building, which is owned by the National Trust and leased to two local ladies who create a wonderful ambience and delicious food. The interior is something of a museum, displaying artefacts from the era when this was the village bakery. There is also an array of local crafts.

Map: OS Explorer 115, Exmouth & Sidmouth and OS Explorer 116, Lyme Regis & Bridport Walk: A footpath leads through the orchard, heading for the coast at Branscombe Mouth. Once at the coast walkers can head east through the otherworldly Hooken Undercliff, returning along the cliff-top path. Alternatively there’s a steep climb up to the woods above West Cliff, from which various footpath options lead back to the village.

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