About Tarka Country
As is the way throughout Britain, holiday regions are often rebranded under a name linked to a famous person, a long-running television series, a dramatic film or, as in this case, a popular book. For Tarka the Otter is the case here. The fictional story of the adventures of an otter roving the rivers and estuaries of North Devon was written by local author, Henry Williamson, in 1927. A book popular with all ages, it was made into a film in the 1979.
Nowadays, Tarka Country generally refers to that rural area of lush pastures, lazy rivers, fat cattle and fly fishermen, to the south and south-east of Barnstaple. Narrow country lanes meander amongst the rolling hills flushing out a hilltop hamlet with its welcoming tavern or an open garden.
South Molton awakens from its slumbers every Thursday morning to welcome what seems to be the entire farming community from miles around. A livestock market held in the heart of the town starts its sales at eleven in the forenoon. The pannier market close by has more genuine country traders than the markets in the larger towns.
Northcote Manor Hotel
Burrington, Umberleigh. Tel: 01769 560501.
C18th Country House in extensive estate (long private drive through woodland). Johansens Hotel Guide for 2002 :'Most Excellent Country House Hotel in the UK'. "With 3 AA Red Stars, RAC Gold Ribbon Award what more could you expect other than professional unobtrusive service coupled with the finest fresh local produce prepared with excellent flair and imagination." 12 miles south-east of Barnstaple, betwixt High Bickington and Burrington.
The Stags Head
Stags Head, Filleigh, 7 miles east-south-east of Barnstaple.
Good food at all times - but popular for Sunday lunches, don't leave it too late.
The Rising Sun
Umberleigh, 7 miles south-south-east of Barnstaple, beside A377 ("tourist route" to Exeter).
Award-winning cuisine: restaurant and bar meals.
The Cranford Inn
Cranford Cross, 3 miles east of Great Torrington, on B3227.
Country pub out in the wilds of the Devon countryside. Good for lunches, after/before a visit to RHS Rosemoor Gardens.
The Duke of York
Iddesleigh - down towards Dartymoor. Some say 'tis the finest pub in England....