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Spaniel Cottage holiday home located at the foot of Ham Hill Country ParkRead More
Spaniel Cottage is a delightful cottage full of warmth and charm, which is located at the foot of Ham Hill country park Stoke sub Hamdon, Somerset.
Dogfriendly Magazine Review
Read our comprehensive review of this listing printed in our bi-monthly magazine.
Review by Vicky Kaderbhai
Spaniel Cottage, in the picture-perfect village of Stoke-sub-Hamdon in Somerset, has got to be one of the most charming holiday homes I have ever been lucky enough to visit.
Situated at the foot of Ham Hill, a country park made up of 360 acres, the cottage has an unobstructed view of the war memorial on the spur of Hamdon Hill. The cottage itself has the loveliest home away from home feel to it and we all immediately felt relaxed, while us humans busied ourselves checking out the cosy kitchen with its rocking chair and impressive bathroom with its walk-in shower and roll top bath, the dogs had fun exploring the enclosed back garden and the treats that our hosts had left. It wasn’t just treats that they had thought to leave as they also supplied us with a spare lead, towels for the dogs, a water bowl and extra poo bags in case we ran out of our own.
We were eager to explore our beautiful new surroundings so walked up to the war monument where we were treated to views of the South Somerset Moors, Exmoor and the Mendip Hills. We then walked round to a series of stones that had been erected as part of a special project for the millennium to commemorate the many centuries of quarrying on Ham Hill. The dogs loved exploring these and giving each stone a sniff! Getting hungry at this point, we carried on and wound our way around to The Prince of Wales pub. The food was utterly delicious and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. Our Golden Mix Buddy can certainly attest to the fact that they’re dog friendly, as when he knocked the water bowl flying, the staff couldn’t have been more understanding and helped us clear up the mess.
The next day we took the chance to explore the village in more detail and came across The Priory, a sweet café on the high street. While trying to decide whether we were ready for lunch the owner appeared and invited us in, assuring us that the dogs were more than welcome, something he backed up by giving them treats and a bowl of water. The Priory is a great spot to stop for lunch and we enjoyed our cheese toasties in the quirky surroundings and took the chance to sit and enjoy a moment of quiet with books while the dogs set about making friends.
For our evening walk we got in the car and drove the short drive to the nearby village of Norton-sub-Hamdon where we parked up at The Lord Nelson Pub and set off to explore the village. Norton-Sub-Hamdon is just as pretty as its neighbour and we loved seeing the houses covered in ivy and thatched roofs of the cottages. After the walk we were in need of refreshments, so we made our way back round to the pub and enjoyed a couple of cold drinks while we watched the sunset. We didn’t go inside but the pub is dog friendly and they even brought out a couple of dog treats on the tray with our drinks, which was a really thoughtful touch. We ended up staying for longer than expected as we chatted away to the people at the neighbouring table. This theme of everyone being super friendly and up for a chat was one that occurred throughout our stay and we certainly felt welcome. Back at the cottage and tired from our day, we decided to get the log burning fire going in the living room. Wood is provided in a lovely wicker basket, as well as a fire guard to protect any curious pets from getting too close and it made for a really pleasant evening, hanging out in front of the crackling fire watching the dogs dream about their day.
The hosts leave a lovely welcome pack full of information about the cottage, local area and day trips for you to peruse. Well the one that caught my eye was Lyme Regis. It was somewhere I visited a lot as a child, so I was excited to discover that it was only a 45-minute drive from the cottage. We visited on one of the sunniest days of the year so far, so Lyme Regis was packed but we managed to get a table at The Pilot Boat. We sat on the terrace where the dogs were provided with water while we tucked into a pizza and burger. It’s also worth mentioning the vanilla milkshake because it was absolutely delicious, so creamy and moreish! During the summer months there are restrictions on the main Cobb beach and Church beach, however Monmouth Beach is open to dogs all year round. We decided to make our way around to one of the beaches that we know fossils have been found on in the past but with the tide so far in we were unable to access it, but the views out to sea that we were treated to, more than made up for it. We weren’t done yet and before heading back to the cottage we decided to make the 20-minute journey from Lyme Regis to the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary.
They’re really dog friendly, allowing dogs in the café and the gift shop and offer free parking and free entry. The day was still hot but we didn’t need to worry about the dogs too much as there were water stations situated throughout which kept our dogs hydrated. The donkeys themselves are kept in six shelters as well as a separate area for the miniature and guardian donkeys. You are free to walk around the shelters at your own pace. I think our favourites had to be the oldies as they were such sweet little things. Some of the donkeys were too busy eating or sunning themselves to bother with us but quite a few were wonderfully curious. The Kitchen café has both indoor and outdoor seating. We opted to sit inside to avoid the heat and while the dogs drank their water and tilted their heads at the funny noises from the donkeys, we enjoyed the mouth-watering fudge cake.
Exhausted and in need of a lie down, it was so useful to be able to pop into the Co-op on the outskirts of the village for a few things for our dinner on the drive back from the donkey sanctuary before we settled in for the evening.
The next day was beautiful again and going in search of something to do with a bit more shade we flipped through the welcome pack and found Wayford Woods near Crewkerne, which was only a 25-minute drive from the cottage. The trees provided excellent coverage which meant that we could meander our way through the woods without worrying about the dogs getting overheated. The foliage was fascinating and I’m sure someone much better versed in what it all was could tell you what we were looking at but I just enjoyed the pretty scenery! The dogs were in their element with all the new smells and it felt secure enough to let them off their leads and have a really good wander. Wayford Woods is maintained by volunteers and there are donation boxes set up if you wanted to contribute a little something to the upkeep.
For our last night we decided to walk to Montacute, home to National Trust property, Montacute House. We decided not to visit as we knew that dogs weren’t allowed in the house but spying the gardens from the road, we wondered if we might have made a mistake, if we’re ever back in this part of the world we’ll be sure to check it out. Just like Stoke-sub-Hamdon the village is spectacularly pretty and such a joy to walk around. The Kings Arms is a dog friendly pub that we almost checked out but instead we decided to trek to the top of St Michael’s Hill. It’s a fairly steep walk which rewarded us with panoramic views across the area and the chance to see the 18th century tower that stands at the top, up close.
After a year in lockdown, we certainly opted for quite an active holiday but if you wanted a more relaxed break then Spaniel Cottage can work for you. With its cosy feel, log fires, decadent bathroom, and welcoming lounge, you can put your feet up and unwind. With Ham Hill on your doorstep and the beautiful village to explore, you could easily park up the car and not bother with it again until you leave.
Both my husband and I were totally taken with the cottage and the area and it was lovely to feel so welcome with our dogs wherever we went. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll be back as Spaniel Cottage has earned a special place in our hearts.
Spaniel Cottage, review by Vicky Kaderbhai and appears in DogFriendly magazine issue 67. For more information on the DogFriendly magazine visit https://www.dogfriendly.co.uk/magazine
Suzanne Nelms, September 2021
Brilliant facilities for both types of guests. Just as welcoming for dogs as it is for their owners.
Jackie Gaines, September 2021
It’s a lovely little cottage with beautiful views
Jecca Szarmach, August 2021
Amazing little pooch perfect cottage in fantastic dog friendly area. Owned by a dog expert. It's a no brainer!
Listing Updated: 07/10/2021
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