Escape to the countryside with your four-legged friend in tow. This beautifully restored pub with rooms, The Exmoor Forest Inn, sits in an idyllic valley, on the edge of Simonsbath, surrounded by stunning wild moorland in the heart of the Exmoor National Park. The recently transformed pub is home to eleven simply-styled rooms and three cottages. Part of the Exmoor Forest Estate, it is a wholly organic, traditional hill farm, producing native grass-fed beef and lamb, and home to several hundred red deer; the cattle and sheep are born, raised and eaten on the farm. It’s the perfect spot for those who appreciate pared-back style with a nod to the countryside, as well as large comfy beds; most of the rooms are dog friendly with a cosy dog bed, soft towel provided.
Affable hosts and brothers, Edward, Freddie and Alexander Greenall acquired the Inn in May ’21 and have transformed the space into a welcoming home-from-home with a personal service. They invite you to make yourself at home, with an open-house vibe, whether it’s playing a board game next to an open fire in the lounge, or sipping a local gin in the garden, your canine pal will be happy to rest at your side. There are tucked away snugs with worn sofas to sink into, a bar full of friendly locals and farmers, and a gorgeous dining room with woodburning stoves.
Exmoor has some of the most spectacular walking in the whole of Britain and offers an brilliant network of footpaths and national trails. Surrounded by woodland and moorland, your dog will be spoilt for choice for the best sniffs.
Exmoor National Park is an incredible destination to visit, especially if you love walking in the great outdoors, and your dog likes to holiday with you. Whether it’s an easy stroll from the doorstep of the Exmoor Forest Inn or a more strenuous hike, Simonsbath and the surrounding area have some brilliant routes to discover – the team will be happy to provide details of self-guided walks from the pub, as well as those further afield. We particularly love the route along the river to Cow Castle – with its level path extremely sheltered by hillside – taking in ancient stone walls and moss-covered banks. Your dog will be delighted to paddle or swim in the stream along the way.
It can be done as a circular route in around three hours, looping back onto higher ground, and takes around 40-minutes there and back, following the river. The Two Moors Way (also known as coast-to-coast) is a long distance walking route between Ivybridge on the southern edge of Dartmoor National Park and Lynmouth on the north coast of Exmoor Park – a total length of 102 miles (163km), it’s great to carry out in sections. For staggering 360-degree views, don’t miss taking hike across the moorland to Dunkery Beacon – Exmoor’s highest point (about 20-minutes’ drive away). There are also myriad of routes through the Somerset and Devon countryside of the Quantock Hills, The Brenden Hills and Exmoor. The area is also well-known for its varied cycle routes, besides its roads and quiet lanes, Exmoor has hundreds of miles of bridleways and tracks where you can cycle with your dog kicking at your wheels.
Food is hearty and delicious with the pub an integral part of the Exmoor Forest Estate , boasting a brilliant farm-to-table ethos with a wholesome menu that serves the organic beef and lamb that has been farmed, finished and aged on the Exmoor Forest farm.
There’s also freshest fish from the Bideford day boats off the north Devon coast, just eight miles from the pub, as well as venison and other game from the surrounding 6000 acres of moorland, British cheese and locally foraged mushrooms, plants, herbs and berries. There’s a pretty kitchen garden up at the farm that supplies fruit and vegetables to the pub and restaurant while Ben and his team regularly forage for seasonal bounties including wild garlic, sea purslane, sweet woodruff and pineapple weed. The local wild mushrooms are something of a speciality!
Your dogs are welcome to join you to dine in the restaurant, where you can enjoy a homecooked meal using the beef, lamb and venison from the farm, along with freshest seasonal produce. Tuck into house sourdough with roasted yeast-butter and creamy hummus of yellow split peas from British growers. The slow-roasted hogget served with peppery seasonal leaves and a yogurt-mint dressing is a tasty sharing starter, follow this with Chalk Stream trout, Cornish earlies and young asparagus or a classic slow-cooked beef cottage pie and seasonal veg. Expect some pub classics including Middle white sausages and mash, and expertly cooked local game; tender slices of venison haunch are paired with salt-baked beetroot and rock samphire. Afterwards, keep it sweet with scrape-the-plate-clean good puddings – English black fig and Somerset cider cake with clotted cream, an insanely sticky hogweed pudding with creamy milk ice-cream or a personal favourite – a divinely smooth Pump Street chocolate mousse with sea buckthorn and toasted granola.
There’s also a great selection of local ales and gins including Exmoor’s very own distilled, Wicked Wolf.
One dog per room welcome, and there’s an additional charge of £15 for the duration of your stay.
This cosy pub-with-rooms ticks all the boxes for a wagging tail – from the minute I arrived, I was welcomed with lots of fuss and ample treats. Our room at the Exmoor Forest Inn was spacious with a cosy bed, and I was able to dine with my humans, as well as relax in the snug bar and lounge. It was lovely to laze in the garden, but the highlight has to be the incredible location – in the heart of the Exmoor National Park, surrounded by the most gorgeous walking spots, and incredible wildlife – from miles of shady woodland, gnarly tree-lined ancient tracks and moorland to explore, it’s a dog’s dream retreat!
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