Hartland is a rural gem. It’s not only surrounded by a wild and stunning Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s also a living breathing community in itself.This is a town that boasts a vibrant artistic scene (with galleries and workshops to visit), an excellent selection of independent shops, and a fascinating history.
Snug though Hartland is, the town is well worth exploring. History buffs can get their fill by following the Harton Borough Heritage Trail, which takes walkers through the town, bringing Hartland’s story to life through its buildings, streets and public spaces.
What is there to do in and around Hartland?
Art lovers will enjoy visiting the town’s workshops and galleries. The first port of call will most likely be Springfield Pottery. It’s run by Philip and Frannie Leach, who belong to an extraordinary dynasty of West Country potters. Philip is the grandson of pottery legend, Bernard Leach (who first made his name in the St Ives of Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood), while Frannie trained with Philip’s father, Michael. You’re welcome to visit the workshop, talk to Phil and Frannie, and discover more about their influences – which include Iran, where Philip ran student workshops for six years! There’s also the White Hare Studio gallery, home of artist Clive Brocklehurst, Merlyn Chesterman’s gallery at 2 Harton Manor, and the bespoke furniture and cabinets of James Morley.
When you’ve had your fill of the artistic charms of the town, you’ll find the Hartland peninsula equally inspiring. In addition to being an AONB, it also has four sites of Special Scientific Interest, and is part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Beat that!
A walk from Hartland Quay to Hartland Point is a great introduction to the peninsula. Come rain or shine, this is a magnificent jaunt, which starts at the pretty quay close to ancient Hartland Abbey. The route then takes you along a three-mile switchback to the lighthouse at Hartland Point. It’s strenuous up-and-down walking but the views more than compensate, with glimpses of Lundy Island.
For a gentler activity, a visit to Clovelly is a must. One of the most photographed villages in the UK, Clovelly is known for its steep pedestrianized main street of cobbles (which drops to a pretty stone harbour), and its resident donkeys. We recommend you take a break on the ascent and enjoy a cream tea!
Where are the best places to eat and drink in and around Hartland?
Given Hartland’s amazing natural beauty, you’d be mad not to visit the Hartland Quay Hotel. On a sunny day, we reckon the views from the beer garden of the Atlantic Ocean, Lundy Island and the waves crashing against granite cliffs are among the most magnificent you’ll have ever seen – certainly while accompanying a meal.
Closer to home, The Hart Inn, slap-bang in the middle of Hartland in the Square, is a wonderful pub – a place with 14th Century origins but a thoroughly contemporary take on food. A small but perfectly formed menu dishes up artfully arranged and generously-portioned meals like lamb tagine with cous cous, followed by vanilla panna cotta with mango sorbet.