There are times in your life when a sanctuary from everyday life is all that’s required to give you some much needed vigor as a new season approaches. Which is why we found ourselves at the Lakehouse at The Orangery in Mamhead, Devon. After a whirlwind of a year that took in the death of a parent, our wedding (and the planning of it) moving house - and relocating from London – we were done in. The Lakehouse was the perfect retreat for a few days of respite from our busy lives.
Situated amongst woods and rolling fields, the Lakehouse stands atop a lake designed by the maestro of Britain’s gardens, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. After a four-hour drive with two bored little boys in the back, it really was like discovering an oasis of peace and tranquility as we stilled the car’s engine. Whilst it was too dark to take in any of the scenery (we arrived at night and saying it was dark feels like an understatement: we couldn’t see a thing) the Lakehouse itself drew gasps.
The open plan kitchen come dining space has been tastefully refurbished in an arts and crafts style, whilst the kids were delighted with their American style built-in bunk beds (one each, so they could both sleep on the top, deflecting from squabbles. Not needed at that time of night.) Kara, the host – who lives in The Orangery, the stunning main house restored back to it’s former classical Roman architectural splendor – left locally sourced bread and supplies (including milk, butter and eggs - and bottle of wine) for our arrival, which we were grateful for and meant we didn’t have to do a mad dash to the local shop for breakfast the next morning.
But we weren’t focused on food when we woke. The view over the lake - the open plan windows make it easy to gaze outside – is therapeutically calming. Before we got there, we’d had the mad idea of taking the boys to Crealy Park – “a bit like a mini Alton Towers” a friend had advised me – but once at the Lakehouse we were sold. After breakfast, we headed to the local supermarket for supplies for the whole weekend. We were bedding in.
After a leisurely lunch, we took one of the two boats for a row in the lake and then explored the tranquil gardens and part of the 100 acres that makes up the estate. Dotted with rare sheep – and even ridiculously cute alpacas – we all agreed our time spent roaming the hills was by far the preferred option over a high-energy amusement park.
The next morning after a delicious sleep, our lungs full of fresh Devon air, we said hello to Kara and her welcoming family (including several lovely dogs) admired her vast gardens designed by Capability Brown, before packing up and heading off to nearby Dawlish Warren. After a muck about on the sandy beach and fish and chips enjoyed outside in the crisp autumn sun, it was time to head home. Batteries fully rebooted.
The Lakehouse sleeps up to six people, with one double bedroom, one twin bedroom with four classic American ‘cosy bunks’, family bath, open plan dining room, sitting room and kitchen, with full length doors opening on to the expansive veranda with views over the lake. There is indoor and outdoor eating, chaise lounges, rowing boat, as well as WiFi, MP3 player, flat screen television, washer/dryer and DVD player
2016 High/Low Season