Destination Inspiration: Axminster, Devon

Destination Inspiration: Axminster, Devon

Plan your escape (or mini-break) to the country. A fossil’s throw from Devon’s Jurassic Coast, the market town of Axminster is our go-to for a smattering of independent shops, fresh-air walks and good food courtesy of River Cottage.


Axminster, Devon

Why now?

For children of the 80s and 90s, Escape to the Country may have
once seemed like a naff TV programme that grown-ups used to
monopolise the telly. Now, however, it encapsulates the dream of
the claustrophobic city-dweller seeking a bit of smog-free

Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is responsible for
putting this twee market town on the map – the six-acre River
Cottage is but a short drive from the town centre. Book onto one of
its cookery and craft courses (the farmhouse is only reached by
tractor) or wiggle into your wellies to take a tour of the grounds.
Paris and Nicole’s Simple Life, this is not.

In the town centre, expect thatched cottages, tea rooms and a
high street packed full of independents. Get stellar
recommendations for your next read at Archway Books
or rummage through trinkets and treasures in The Old Chapel
Antiques & Craft Centre. Sunday mornings call for a cycle to
Farm Shop
. The farms have been in the family for three
generations and, when possible, its owners nip across to France to
bring back a selection of edible goodies to accompany local fare.
Avignon or Axminster? Regardless, it’s a cornucopia of fresh
produce under one roof and has a wine selection that rivals cellars
in Bordeaux.

We didn’t come all this way not to stretch our legs. From here,
you’re within easy reach of the South West Coast Path, or beat WFH
fatigue with a stroll along the Axe Valley rivers, where you’ll
likely spot otters and kingfishers.

Don’t miss

An excursion to Lyme Regis for fossil hunting in salty-fresh air and
top-notch sea-to-fork restaurants.

Where to stay

The River Cottage Farmhouse, natch.

Where to go for dinner

Ok, so it’s not like we’re a Hugh stan (ok, maybe a little) but
we can’t deny that the River Cottage Kitchen is one of Axminster’s biggest
draws. Separate from cottage and located in the centre of the town,
expect a more low-key menu than up at HQ. Think comforting soups,
overflowing bloomer sandwiches and just-delivered-from-the-butchers
bangers served with buttery mash.

Equally as passionate about its farm-to-fork ethos, book at
table at The Tytherleigh Arms. Order the wild-mushroom risotto
before tucking into the smorgasbord of chutney and cheese – we
guarantee the chutney alone will have you storming into the
kitchen, demanding for a jar to take home.

And for a drink…

for a mead-tasting experience. Book a taxi; the wine
slips down as easily as honey and you’ll want to get boozy.
Continue the soirée back at your pad with the armfuls of tastes
you’ll take home. Like this? Stop by Lyme Bay Winery
for its fruity plonk.

Who to take with you

Your friend that continuously moans about missing the
countryside while refusing to give up their cosy Clapham flat.

When to go

Coincide visits with market day, which takes place every
Thursday. It’s here you’ll find trestle tables stacked with
everything from homemade tiffin slices to shepherds pies and
sausage rolls.

Essentials to pack

Leave the dungarees at home, this Isabel Marant wool-tweed cap screams farmyard

How to get there

You can reach Axminster in less than three hours from London
Waterloo. Alternatively, if you want to pootle around the
surrounding area by car, it’s roughly a four-hour drive.

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