For many people the New Year found themselves returning to jobs they don’t enjoy, long working hours dictated by someone else and with the only glimmer of hope being a fortnight’s holiday later in the year to brighten their days! …..But there is another way as Chris and Sue Willis found to their delight when they took the plunge, sold their home in the heart of the city of Exeter, gave up their jobs in the Army and on cruise ships and bought a small B & B business on Dartmoor.
The Cherrybrook is a delightful 200 year old farmhouse in the middle of the Dartmoor National park, which was already up and running as a successful bed and breakfast. And as Chris explained, “It offered a tranquil location, the opportunity to be our own bosses, and a degree of flexibility which we found to be almost literally intoxicating! Must be the ultra-clean fresh air and natural spring water!”
The couple met at the end of Chris’ career in HM Forces which began in 1974 in the Regimental Band of the then Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. After many years of military postings at home and abroad, followed by six years as musicians on the Disney Cruise Liners, which took them half way around the World, the idea was to find a small ‘lifestyle’ business of their own in order to semi- settle down. This is what led them to buy this stunningly situated former farmhouse on the High Moor area of Dartmoor, between Two Bridges and Postbridge.
They sold their three bed semi in the centre of Exeter, bought as an investment when both worked as part-time Army reservists with the Band & Bugles of 6th Battalion, The Rifles, and with savings from their work they were able to buy the lease, plus ‘goodwill’ on The Cherrybrook. In addition to the separate owners suite, it has seven letting bedrooms plus a two bed annex, and is set in three acres of glorious gardens surrounded by open moorland.
“It has traded variously as an hotel, guest house or bed and breakfast over the past 50 years,” continues Chris, “and in our first season we felt privileged to continue hosting guests from far and wide, including many ‘regulars’ who return year-on-year with, now-grown-up, children!”
Asked if he would recommend others to make such a lifestyle change, Chris replies: “Absolutely! It provides the perfect combination for people who, like us, naturally love entertaining and meeting people, learning about their lives, and sharing a huge range of knowledge and experiences. I love seeing the look of wonder on newcomers’ faces as I walk them out of our back gate up onto the open moor, map in hand, to point out the local landmarks as they set out on one of the many cross-country walks available from here. Sue and I love the flexibility, independence and satisfaction of working, sometimes flat-out, within this sector of the hospitality business. And Dartmoor is a very special place. There is a genuine sense of community, which people take the trouble to foster and sustain and for which we are most appreciative.”
For anyone considering taking a similar leap of faith and looking for a lifestyle business to run this year, Chartsedge estate agents in Totnes who sold them The Cherrybrook, have another wonderful opportunity in the Lydgate Hotel, also in the heart of the Dartmoor National Park. As Miles Kevin of Chartsedge explains, “Lydgate House is a small traditional English Country House Hotel set in 36 acres in an idyllic and secluded spot, offering a new owner the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful lifestyle business with a great income.”
Run by the current owners for the last eight years, the hotel features in several guides and is showcased on many websites, generating impressive occupancy levels and strong repeat trade. Lydgate House is located in the popular village of Postbridge, which is famous for its 13th Century ‘clapper bridge’, and appeals to an international clientele of walkers, cyclists, birdwatchers and the many people wishing to enjoy the delights of Dartmoor.
This detached period property built in approximately 1800, and held on a renewable 35 Duchy lease (approx. 21 years remaining), features seven beautifully presented ensuite letting rooms, residents lounge, conservatory dining room, commercial kitchen, three bedroom adjoining owners’ accommodation in a stone and granite barn conversion and a three bedroom stone built holiday cottage, which sits in its own grounds with separate access and private terrace. Miles continues: “the stunning grounds include a small garden, a sun terrace for use by the guests outside the conservatory, four paddocks, ancient woodland, and a stream, all with the stunning backdrop of the moor.”
Postbridge is approximately 9 miles from Tavistock, and both the North and South
The two coasts of Devon are also easily accessible from the Lydgate Hotel with the A38 Devon Expressway only 15 miles away.
Anyone interested in making the change of lifestyle that Chris and Sue Willis now enjoy, should contact Chartsedge for more information on Lydgate House which is on the market for £599,950. Viewing by appointment only through Chartsedge on 01803 505115 or contact us here.