Chulmleigh is an Area of Rural Tranquillity and said to ‘sigh and shrug its shoulders at the passage of time’. How wonderful. A place that just is and always has been. Since the Celts, in fact. They are known to have cleared trees around Chulmleigh to make their sacred clearings known as nymets. (The name Nymet or Nympton is still common in the area). The Saxons carried on this clearing work and built banks to mark the boundaries of different holdings.

A stroll through this north Devon town (which is more village-sized, tbh) makes a visitor wonder about the many previous footsteps that must have trodden these narrow streets over the centuries. The past is still very present here. Chulmleigh is home to around 200-listed buildings, including many examples of thatch and cob, plus local Devon stone. Great care has been taken to look after and celebrate the eclectic collection of two-ups, two-downs, the town hall, the old fire station etc that make up the town’s inner workings. Tasteful signage, window boxes and stylish lighting reveal that this historic place is still well-loved by today’s inhabitants.

Great British Life: The church at Chulmleigh.The church at Chulmleigh. (Image: Alamy)

They also share a proactive approach to getting together as much as possible. Posters and online notices highlight an impressive programme of events, from floral art workshops, folk singing, bell ringing, walking groups, yoga and more. Despite the exhausting schedule, the locals still like to find time to have a pint in the pubs or catch a movie. Chulmleigh Rural Cinema sets up in the town’s Pavilion building on the second Friday of the month (except in August and December) showing recent films. There’s also a bar and interval ice-creams.

Two churches, a post office and news agent, hairdresser, florist, estate agent, IT expert, delicatessen and sought-after secondary school – there’s an impressive list of basic goods and services packed into this small town. For everything else, the bright lights of South Molton aren’t far away.

Out of town, Chulmleigh parish has one of the greatest concentrations of species-rich grassland in the world. The area, known as the Culm grasslands, is important for the survival of the curlew and the marsh fritillary butterfly.

In all the chaos of modern life, it’s nice to find a little quiet corner of the world that doesn’t feel the need to keep up too much.



Relaxing round: Family-owned Chulmleigh Golf Course is open for players, regardless of experience. There’s no strict dress code. Golf shoes and handicaps aren’t required, either. Jeans and trainers are acceptable. Golf clubs and equipment are available to hire from the clubhouse.

Giddy up: Boldtry Riding Stables offers young and old the chance to saddle up and learn to ride or improve technique. The stables has a selection of 20 horses of all shapes and sizes, plus a huge area of fields and woodland to canter through.

Walk the walk: Take on the Chulmeigh Trail, a short 1.8-mile walk designed by pupils at the local primary school. Explore the church, shops and cobbled streets. Starts at the Red Lion.

Great British Life: Lil's CottageLil's Cottage (Image: Marsdens)


Both The Red Lion and The Old Court House Inn have rooms. The Old Bakehouse Hotel(South Molton Street) is a medieval thatched house with four en-suite rooms, just a five-minute walk from the centre of town. Live like a local in Cobblers Cottage, a cosy bolthole in town or Lil’s Cottage. Both available through Marsdens. The Old Rectory, a stylish and spacious 19th century country house is set in five-acres of landscaped gardens and wildflower meadow. Farther out, The Fox and Hounds Country Hotel has family suites, single rooms, a luxury treehouse and is dog-friendly. Twin Oaks luxury glamping at Ford Farm, Chawleigh, is a handcrafted shepherd’s hut made of natural wood and insulated with British sheep’s wool. It’s fully self-contained, with a comfy double bed, ensuite shower room and…wait for it… flushing loo. There’s also Lotus Belle Tent (a cross between a yurt and a bell tent) available in spring and summer.

Great British Life: The Old Court House InnThe Old Court House Inn (Image: The Old Court House Inn)


Remember, it’s small but perfectly formed here, so don’t come expecting to eat out in a different place every night. The two pubs are a must.The Red Lion (East Street) does stone-baked pizzas, as well as light bites, supper bowls, pies and burgers. The Old Court House Inn (South Molton Street) is said to have been visited by King Charles I in 1634 on his first tour of the West Country in a wheeled carriage. You’ll be in good company. Honest grub and a selection of real ales will keep you fuelled while you try your luck at the traditional games on offer, including shove ha’penny and skittles. The Old Dairy (Fore Street) is a tearoom and deli and very much the heart of daily Chulmleigh life. Good coffee and good people, plus foodie gifts to takeaway. Chulmleigh Kebab House and Chulmleigh Tandoori (both Fore Street) are reassuring finds. And the new Tarka Line Grill has recently opened at Eggesford Station.