Arlington is a small and very peaceful North Devon village that’s most famous for Arlington Court, an elegant Regency house with a famous carriage museum, lovely lakeside walks, a Victorian garden and plethora of livestock.
The house is certainly worth a visit, but Arlington itself should not be ignored. It has a pretty and historically significant parish church, delightful walks from the village centre and a soft, bygone feel that’s a million miles from the stresses of modern life. It’s also the perfect base from which to explore the wild moorlands, wooded valleys and dramatic coastline of Exmoor.
What is there to do in and around Arlington?
The main draw in Arlington is the intriguing Regency house at the village’s heart. Despite its austere façade, Arlington Court is a fascinating property – a family home as well as a small museum of collectibles drawn together by the Chichester family over the course of five hundred years.
There’s a distinctly nautical feel to the collection, which hints at the sea-faring traditions of the Chichester family. In the 1880s Sir Bruce Chichester took his daughter Rosalie on long cruises – and this proved inspirational. Rosalie travelled the world, swelling the collection, notably with a number of ‘prisoner of war’ ship models. There are also models of Gypsy Moth IV on display. This is the yacht in which Rosalie’s nephew, Sir Francis Chichester, completed the first single-handed voyage around the world between 1966 and 1967
The house is also famous for its Carriage Museum in the stables, which boasts over 50 horse-drawn carriages, ranging from a run-of-the-mill Hansom cab to a grand State Coach.
The grounds are just as much of a treat, offering visitors a gentle walk around the lake, a challenging hike up to the highest point on the estate, and a three-mile jaunt through the deer park. And dogs are welcome!
Other attractions in the area include spectacular walking in the Heddon Valley. The secluded bays in this corner of Exmoor were allegedly once used by a German U-Boat commander to give his crew rest and recuperation during the Second World War. While you might not encounter any German seaman on your walk, you are assured magnificent scenery. One route, which starts at The Hunter’s Inn, follows a historic 19th century carriageway and part of the South West Coast Path to take in some of the most dramatic cliffs in the country, as well as a Roman fort and ancient oak woodland.
Where are the best places to eat and drink near Arlington?
A short walk from Arlington – or a super-speedy drive if you’re feeling lazy – and you’ll be at your local, The Pyne Arms in East Down. Run by the team who set up the wildly popular Rock Inn in Georgeham and, before that, The Instow Arms, this is a great rural pub serving classic dishes and a few surprises. Tuck into steak and ale pie with caramelised onion gravy, or Exmoor Gold battered cod, hand-cut chips and mushy peas. You can also expect a good wine list and a changing roster of guest ales from the West Country.
And if you’re tackling that Heddon’s Valley walk, you’d be mad not to enjoy a meal at The Hunter’s Inn, one of the most beautifully located pubs in the country. With its Swiss chalet looks, it’s certainly a unique looking place, but inside it’s a reassuringly familiar mix of warm welcome and tasty pub grub. Veggie dishes and children’s portions are available and the pub also serves its own Heddon Valley Ales. Beer doesn’t come more local than this!