Rousdon is one of the smallest parishes in England. In 1870 it was purchased by Sir Henry Peek, the MP for Mid Surrey. His family made its fortune as importers of spices, tea and other groceries. He commissioned Ernest George to design a Mansion and adjacent buildings to take advantage of the superb position 500 feet above the sea. The estate was built between 1878 and 1883. In 1937 the estate was sold by the Peek family and purchased by Allhallows School who moved from Honiton in 1938. Allhallows closed in 1998 and the estate was purchased by Rousdon Estates Ltd.
Middlemist was the name of one of the houses in the school and was used as classrooms. The marks on the back of the kitchen door were caused by boys throwing knives at it, and bored schoolboys also caused some of the scratches visible on the windows - the swastika in Landseer is nothing to do with us!! As a guest staying at Middlemist you have access to the walks on the estate and the private beach at Charton Bay. The beach can be accessed via a sometimes steep, cliff-top path but there are guiding ropes. Please be aware it may not be suitable for the infirm or very young. If you are walking to the beach from the house it can take between 30-45 minutes (depending on your speed). Public beaches can be found within a few miles of the house at Lyme Regis in one direction and Seaton in the other.
The estate is private land open only to those who live or are visiting the estate. The only open access is the bridleway between West and East lodges. There is no public access to the beach from the estate or onto the estate from the North Lodge (main entrance). As the estate is private, traffic is minimal and is perfect for walking, bike riding and exploring.
You will find a BBQ in the garden to the back of the property accessed via the lounge French doors.
Local Area, Shopping & Links
Rousdon Bakery - new sister to the Town Mill Bakery - a wonderful place to walk down to for breakfast. Homebaked breads, pastries, freshly brewed coffees, and delicious breakfast sundries (new takes on the old bacon sarnie!). Grab some food and a paper and settle in for the morning. They also do a mean cake and coffee at teatime.
Tescos in Axminster – just past the station in Shand Park – (Map & Directions) they also deliver.
Co-op's in Seaton, quite close to Tescos - short 10-15 min. drive. (Map & Directions)
The closest Railway Station is in Axminster (South West Trains) 15 min. drive. Traveline South West 0870 6082608 (Map & Directions)
A true market town rich in local trade. With its beautiful church dominating the centre of this Saxon town every nook and cranny is filled with shops. Along with the unspoiled town centre there are modern facilities such as the Axe Valley Community College with the neighbouring sports centre and swimming pool. Best known of the town’s commercial charms are the world famous carpets produced since the 18th century. The town’s market continues to thrive every Thursday and it’s also the home of TV’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Canteen.
Considered to be the Pearl of Dorset, Lyme Regis offers tourists a real treat. Renowned for its status as a major geological and fossil hunter’s treasure trove, the picture postcard resort has lots to offer those looking for a perfect example of a beautiful British coastline. Lyme sits at the centre of the 95 mile long Jurassic Coast, now designated a World Heritage Site. Experience the charm of its mazy, hilly streets, the splendour of the harbour and the world famous Cobb breakwater. Dinosaurland in Coombe Street will appeal to families and the Lyme Regis Fossil shop in Bridge Street carries souvenirs aplenty. Also good for mackerel fishing!
Sidmouth offers wonderful beaches, spectacular views, scenery and a relaxing atmosphere. It also has a timeless charm, an interesting shopping area, beautiful architecture, award winning floral displays and great walking opportunities. The town features many fine Regency, Georgian and Victorian buildings and the Esplanade, which overlooks the main pebbled beach, is an ideal place to take in the ambience as you enjoy a leisurely stroll. There are many hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants with menus to cater for whatever takes your fancy. Nearby is Jacob’s Ladder beach, with the beautiful Connaught Gardens above and for wonderful views of the town, sea, and coastline, walk or drive up Peak Hill above the gardens.
Devon's Crealy Great Adventure Park is an award winning family attraction located just minutes from junction 30 of the M5 near Exeter. The Park has over 60 rides and attractions set in over 100 acres of glorious Devon countryside. They cater for the whole family, from the smallest children to parents and grandparents alike. There are over 100 animals, 30 outdoor attractions and a variety of other activities to choose from. With heart-stopping rides for thrill seekers to soft-play and animal petting for younger guests, Devon's Crealy is a great family day out.
Check on line for entry costs.
Slade House Farm, Salcombe Regis EX10 0NU 01395 578222
Gently rolling countryside with walks around the fields where you can meet the donkeys, who adore the fuss and attention received from visitors. They rely on the generosity of the public as they are a charity and there are no commercial attractions, Donkeys of all ages are resident at Slade Farm but a large percentage are elderly and remain there in order to be close to the vets. They are open every day of the year from 9am to dusk with free parking and admission (but donations are always gratefully received).
Medieval manor house with later architectural features, Shute Baron is one of the most important surviving non-fortified manor houses of the Middle Ages, One of the most important examples of its kind with a varied history dating from 1380 with battlemented turrets, late Gothic windows and a tudor gatehouse. Check online for when the house is open. Admission by guided tour. The house is tenanted, but there is visitor access to most parts of the interior. Adult admission is £3.40 and child is £1.70.
Offering 60 acres of beautiful gardens with many rare plants and unique buildings. Stroll through the magnificent 19th century Palm House containing many endangered plant species. One of the wonders of the last millennium, it is 20 years older and more daring in design than the Palm House at Kew. Visit the countryside museum packed with nostalgic delights including traction engines, vintage machinery, tractors, and domestic memorabilia demonstrating how life would have been on a Victorian farm. There is an ice free skating rink that is open all year round (small additional cost) and the Bicton Woodland Railway which takes you on a relaxing 25 minute train ride through the Pinetum, around the gardens, up to the Hermitage and back again. And if that wasn’t enough there is an indoor play complex with a drop slide, ball pools and a dedicated area for under 4s, along with an outside miniature village, with a large climbing camp, nature trail , Bigfoot maze , mini golf and football pitch. Open in the summer from 10am to 6pm weekdays in Summer and from 10am to 4pm in the winter, Admission is £7.95 for adults, £5.95 for children 3-16, (children under 3 are free), and Concessions are £6.95. A family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) for £22.95.
CHRIS PAMPLIN has run Jurassic Coast Tours and been a fossil hunting guide for 12 years. EMAIL your name and contact details to Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org to book him for a fossil walk. Chirs specialises in individiual family fossil hunting walks at Charmouth, Dorset, learn the best way and places to hunt for fossils, and he guarantees you will find a fossil! It costs £80 for a three hour family fossil hunt walk and talk, or alternatively join in with others at a guided fossil walk or residential course. He was Senior Warden at Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre before becoming Earth Science Advisor for the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site.
South West Coastal Path Walk
The South West Coast Path National Trail is 630 miles of superb coastal walking. From Minehead on the edge of the Exmoor National Park to the shores of Poole Harbour in Dorset, it is the best way to enjoy the wonderful coastal scenery, wildlife and heritage. The SEATON TO LYME REGIS UNDERCLIFFS WALK starts at the Seaton Seafront and finishes in Lyme Regis and runs for 7 miles (11 kms). It is graded moderate to difficult. A challenging walk over uneven terrain and due to the clay soils sections of the path can be muddy and slippery after wet weather. You will pass through the Axmouth to Lyme Regis Undercliffs National Nature Reserve, one of the highlights of the Jurassic Coast. The landscape is a unique, wild area of landslides, tumbled coastline and luxuriant vegetation. From Seaton, walk along to the eastern end of the seafront and cross over the River Axe on Britain’s oldest concrete bridge which was opened in 1877. Walk upstream and take the track on the right signed Coast Path and Axe Cliff golf course. Cross the course to then enter a sunken Devon lane and at the first junction take the right turn which takes you out to the top of Haven Cliff. Then, after a few hundred yards, the path descends down into the Undercliff National Nature Reserve which is managed by Natural England and is one of the largest active coastal landslide systems in Western Europe. It is also part of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Due to deep fissures walkers should keep to the footpath through the Undercliff. After emerging from the Undercliff the Coast Path turns right and descends through fields to Lyme Regis seafront. The path continues along the seafront to the main part of town from where you can catch the X53 back to Rousdon and a cup of tea!
Peco, Beer, Seaton, EX12 3NA, 01297 21542
Pecorama is a great value, three in one family day out, it’s family enjoyment is based on model railways and beautiful gardens Peco is a company that specialises in train modelling. and has made some fantastic model railways to view, from Spanish seaside villages to the Swiss Alps to the Dorset coastal branch lines And for those not bitten by the model railway bug there are always the beautiful gardens to behold. The gardens are a wonderful mix of interconnected themes. And if that wasn’t enough there is the Beer Heights Light Railway to try. This weaves its way through the magnificent gardens, through tunnels and cuttings and out to a loop in open countryside. The model railway is open throughout the year but the gardens are closed during winter and prices vary depending on age and which attractions you are visiting.
Hix Oyster and Fish House (owned by Mark Hix) opened in 2008 and overlooks The Cobb in Lyme Regis benefitting from stunning, uninterrupted views of the Jurassic coastline and the fishing port. The restaurant is small so it’s probably a good idea to book but they do have a chef’s table downstairs so whilst you might miss the spectacular views atop you’ll get the drama from watching an open kitchen. A blackboard of the day’s landings and a small menu of house dishes using fresh fish from sustainable sources make up the menu.
Located in Axminster, Cinnamons has been awarded `Best Indian Restaurant in Somerset and Dorset` at the British Curry Awards. Mixing traditional Indian food with modern award winning recipes, dishes are made to order, and everything is sourced fresh, and wherever possible, using local suppliers. Really good modern Indian food. Take-away also available.
River Cottage Canteen
New Commercial Inn, Trinity Square, Axminster, EX13 5AN 01297 631862
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s local produce store and canteen can be found in the heart of Axminster where you can find a the best local and seasonal provisions -including fruit and vegetables, meat and bread, pickles and preserves, wine and beer, as well as range of books and smallholder supplies, plus a specially chosen British wine, beers and spirits list. Virtually all of the produce has been sourced locally. The Canteen also showcases the very best of what the South West has to offer and what is in season. The menus change every day. Booking is recommended for evenings (Tuesday-Saturday) and Sunday lunch but lunch is on a first come first served basis. Children are most welcome and they do accept bookings for private parties. Alternatively you could always pre-book yourself a place on a day course or evening event held at River Cottage HQ, check out the information on their website.
A wonderful place to go for breakfast, lunch, tea or an early dinner. They use locally sourced organic products and make some of the most delicious bread you’ve ever tasted. It’s more like having a meal in a friend’s house than a restaurant! Sit anywhere at the long, refectory tables which makes for a much more open, social experience. A lovely, laid back atmosphere - call out for drinks and help yourself to freshly made breads, eccles cakes, scones etc for breakfast. Menu changes daily depending on available ingredients. They are open from around 8am to 8pm depending on the season and what’s on TV! In the morning it’s unlimited toast, English muffins, raisin filled eccles cakes and/or croissants and homemade jam or peanut butter. Then service switches to lunch: small pizzas, a soup, or the famous ‘Bakers Eggs’ which is a doorstep of bread with a circle hollowed out of the middle and a fresh egg cracked in and the whole lot whacked in the oven. Teatime is cakes, scones, apple turnovers, frangipani and bread and honey before dinner at around 5pm where there can be a simple menu of large pizza - Margheritas, Roasted Vegetable or Florentine.
Church Street, Sidford, Sidmouth, EX10 9QP 01395 513174
This restaurant was originally a Salt House used by the Benedictine Monks who traded salt at Exeter Catherdral. Run by a husband and wife team they pride themselves on using the ‘best of Devon’s larder’ using home grown or organic produce. Everything is made on the premises so all dietary requirements can be catered for.
The Wheelwright Inn
Swan Hill Road, Colyford, Coyton EX24 6QQ 01297 552585
An elegant 17th century thatched building that was originally a wheelwrights place of work and has also been a tea shop. Bright lively atmosphere, oak floors and beams, open fires, inviting and warm. Great for Sunday lunch, evening meal or a pint of Badger ale. Homemade traditional English fayre, all freshly prepared and cooked to order using local ingredients. Gardens above and for wonderful views of the town, sea, and coastline, walk or drive up Peak Hill above the gardens.
If you want to take a break and get some pampering, here are some links to some special people who can help:
Manicures & Pedicures – call Ann on 01297 34585 - she is mobile and is happy to come to you.
Catering - If you are having a special birthday and don’t wish to cook we can recommend excellent caterers in the form of Antonia’s Kitchen – visit their website www.antoniaskitchen.co.uk. They know the estate well and have catered in Peek House and Middle House on several occasions. They also provide ready-made meals should you wish for something special without the cost of chef or waiter!