PUB REVIEW: The Ring of Bells in North Bovey

The Ring of Bells has bounced back from a devastating fire

The Ring of Bells has bounced back from a devastating fire - Credit: Archant

In his regular series of columns for Devon Life, Patrick McCaig of The Otter Brewery heads off the beaten track in Dartmoor to find his latest pub

Journey into the centre of our beautiful National Park and you'll find North Bovey. Definitely off the beaten track, this quintessential Dartmoor village with its thatched cottages, large village green and popular watering hole, makes for a great discovery on a hot summer's day.

This is a story though not without drama or incident. Being a pub landlord is tough at the best of times but to see your beloved 13th century pub devastated by fire genuinely takes some coming back from. Many, in fact, might have walked away given the daunting scale of the inevitable rebuild.

Up until that point in early 2016, The Ring of Bells, with its picture postcard thatch and low beams, was a real looker. It was easy to see how it could have seduced someone at first sight.

Richard Edlmann is a former accountant with a degree in Restaurant Management and has also cooked at the Savoy in London…all good foundation blocks. This Balham boy, now a doting father of one, took on the pub in late 2013. Wife Ellie, meanwhile, does important stuff at Derriford Hospital. Having both fully integrated into life on the moor, the cruel fire literally stopped everyone in their tracks.

Commitment is everything in this trade and, after a heck of a journey, the business has bounced back. You'd actually be hard pressed to spot there's been a rebuild at all and that's testament to the skilled local craftsmen who were used.

With time, the whole structure will age properly but already it's regained much of its original charm. This was a like-for-like refurb that they had to get right as the building here really is part of the product. Yet again Katherine Lightfoot's paintings continue to seduce me and make a compelling case for new with old.

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The locals are clearly extremely happy to have their pub back and there's a real buzz in the bar even at lunchtime. You'll love it the moment you walk in. The Front of House team led by Avril and Ali make you feel at home immediately.

Laid out across the first floor is a beamed restaurant area, the cosy bar and a room perfect for young families, whilst upstairs are five spacious, well-appointed bedrooms. Outside you can enjoy the stylish patio area and garden late into the evening.

The food has real pedigree and provenance behind it. Head chef David mixes classic pub grub with more sophisticated restaurant dishes and his offering, by nature of their location, has to cater for a varied set. I think he's pitched the menu perfectly.

Tequila-spiced gazpacho hit the spot on a very hot day and was followed by a totally unscripted ploughman's. When Richard mentioned they would soon be introducing their own, I quickly volunteered and put the kitchen on the spot.

A few sips of Tarka later and a plate appeared with all the desired component parts; home-cooked ham, salad, fresh bread, chutney and classic Godminster - the Daddy of all good Cheddars. A generous piece of rich chicken liver parfait completed an all-star show.

I urge you to check this place out. Once you're here a sort of magic seduces you…maybe it's the mystery of the moor or maybe it's the team's collective passion for what they do. One thing's for sure, it's great to see this cherished landmark back to full strength again.

The Details

Real Ale:

- Otter Bitter, Otter Brewery

- Reel Ale, Teignworthy Brewery

- Dartmoor IPA, Dartmoor Brewery

Local Lager:

- Tarka Four, Otter Brewery

Contact details:

- The Ring of Bells, North Bovey, Dartmoor, TQ13 8RB.

- Tel: 01647 440375

- Website:

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