Devon Life discovers 7 great reasons to live in... South Molton, Devon
PUBLISHED: 10:36 08 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:39 20 February 2013
Friendly, unspoilt and set in rolling countryside, South Molton is the perfect base for active families, with lots of facilities both in the town and nearby.<br/><br/>Words and pictures by Robert Hesketh
7 great reasons to live in South Molton
Friendly, unspoilt and set in rolling countryside, South Molton is the perfect base for active families, with lots of facilities both in the town and nearby. Words and pictures by Robert Hesketh
As well as a broad range of shops, South Molton has its own schools, dentists and doctors surgeries, library and cottage hospital. Close to Exmoor and the north coast, thanks to the North Devon Link Road South Molton now enjoys good communications with the rest of Devon and easy access to the M5.
On the doorstep
South Molton is within easy driving distance of North Devons best sand and surf beaches. However, for lovers of the outdoors, its greatest advantage is being close to Exmoor. High moorland and vertiginous sea cliffs, rolling hills cut by fast-flowing rivers and steep, wooded valleys Exmoor National Park has a remarkable variety of scenery in a modest compass. Criss-crossed with well-signed routes, it is a walkers and riders paradise. Stronghold of red deer, Englands largest land mammal, Exmoor is also famous for its native ponies, its trout-haunted rivers and abundant wildlife.
As well as the new Sainsburys supermarket and Mole Valley Farmers store, both Pannier and Cattle Markets on Thursdays and Saturdays are integral parts of South Moltons life. There are also traditional butchers, bakers and other food shops. Further exploration reveals shops selling everything from saddles to sports equipment, antiques to lingerie, as well as gorgeous vintage clothes shops. Partridge and Pear Tree really is a one-off designer furnishing fabric shop not to be missed, and then theres antiques, decorative home wares, jewellery and yummy handmade Swiss chocolates at Melchior Chocolates in Station Road.
Children can complete their whole education in South Molton, which has its own nursery, infant and junior schools, whilst the Community College a specialist technology college with 580 on the roll is rated outstanding. Equally, all ages are catered for 10km distant at West Buckland, the private school affectionately depicted by RF Delderfield in To Serve Them All My Days.
Of course education doesnt stop at sixth form, and to keep those brain cells firing, South Moltons University of the Third Age offers members a wide range of activities, from scrabble to painting, history, literature, trips out, IT, digital photography and much more besides. The Community College also offers adult classes in a wide range of subjects.
Did you know...South Molton Primary School was one of the schools researched by Iona and Peter Opie in their seminal study of nursery rhymes and childrens songs.
Sports are well provided for too in South Molton, especially football, rugby and running. The skateboard park is also used for roller skating and BMX biking. South Moltons swimming pool is open all year, offering instruction and clubs, as well as lifeguard courses. In addition, nearby High Bullen Hotels golf course, gym, swimming pool and spa facilities are open to members
Meet up with Friends
Whether youre looking for coffee and cake, a light lunch, a take-away or a full-blown meal, youre spoilt for choice in South Molton. There are a good handful of cafs and quintessentially English tea shops, such as the Corn Dolly. Restaurants include the Old Bakehouse and Stumbles. You can also enjoy Chinese and Indian cuisine, or fish and chips at the Honeycomb. Several pubs offer food, including the very vibrant George Hotel, a Grade II listed coaching inn, which shows films, runs live comedy evenings and live music.
For a relaxation treat, the Rose and Crown Clinic provides a broad range of therapies, including massage, acupuncture, yoga and homeopathy. Facilities include a refreshment area, showers and a sun room. Sues Sun and Beauty Salon offers beauty and tanning treatments.
Exmoor National Park has a remarkable variety of scenery in a modest compass.
The towns 30 best historic buildings form a numbered Town Trail. The dignified Georgian Guildhall is South Moltons grandest secular building. Constructed in 1739 in Palladian style, it houses the Museum (open April-October). Next door is the Public Market and Assembly Room (1863), whilst the George Hotel and the Medical Hall are fine examples of early-19th-century architecture as is the Post Office, originally the 1809 Corn Exchange, though dated 1888. St Mary Magdalenes 107ft-tall (32.5m) tower dates from c1430. You can also explore East Street and Duke Street, to see some fine Georgian houses.
The Town Trail booklet is available from Tourist Information at 1 East Street.
By road: signed from A361 (North Devon Link Road)
Buses: 155 and X7 from Barnstaple and 155 from Exeter; frequent services Monday to Saturday;
0871 200 2233 (Railway links at Exeter and Barnstaple)
Tourist Information: 1 East Street, South Molton, EX36 3BU,
South Molton has a good number and mix of medium-sized and smaller houses and flats, making it a good place to look for modestly priced homes. Some are neat modern estate properties, but there are also older, mainly terraced houses from various periods, conveniently close to the town centre and its amenities.
Prices are more moderate than in much of Devon, as are rents in the smaller but still significant letting market. Two-bedroom terraced houses, for example, start at under 120,000, or around 425 per calendar month; three-bedroom properties start from around 130,000 or 475.
Four-bedroom town houses can be found for under 200,000. Spacious bungalows with good-sized gardens are around 220,000 or 650 to rent. A substantial four-bedroom house with gardens can be found for under 300,000.
Detached houses without near neighbours and with land attached are found mainly in the surrounding countryside. In the upper price range are ex-farmhouses, often with substantial extra accommodation. A big Victorian farmhouse, South Ford Farm (below), 2 miles from South Molton, including a holiday cottage, barns, a calf-rearing unit and 11.3 acres, is on the market for 775,000.