Like me, Coco and Dora have few things happier than long walks through rolling countryside, glorious golden sunsets and a leisurely snooze in a supremely comfortable bed.
It’s safe to say that my dogs have returned from their short break in rural Devon as refreshed as I have.
Maybe even more, I wonder as I listen to her peaceful snores from the trunk of our car as we drive home through winding streets.
My family and I had stayed at the Mole Resort in the flower-filled village of Chittlehamholt, about ten miles south of Barnstaple, which takes the term dog-friendly to a whole new level.
The activity resort, which only opened in September last year, really showcases the pretty part of the British countryside in which it sits – from its rustic wooden cottages overlooking vast landscapes to its deer observatory perched on a steep hill Perched and has shuttered windows that lead out to the humid, tranquil woodland below where wildlife thrives.
For dog owners, it really is a carefree holiday.
There’s no need to google for the nearest dog-friendly pub, as dogs are welcome in the on-site restaurants and bars. You don’t have to worry about dirty paws as each lodge has its own hot water hose at the door, and you don’t have to worry about leaving Fido behind as your four-legged friends can take part in almost all the activities on offer, even archery.
We stayed in a Valley View lodge that lived up to its name: it stood on high stilts and offered an unobstructed view of a patchwork quilt field and grazing cows.
Each stylish lodge has one or two parking spaces, an open plan living/kitchen area and a Jacuzzi on the patio – a great spot for stargazing.
However, the standout feature is the folding glass doors that run the length of the lodge from the bedrooms to the living area, allowing you to enjoy the spectacular views from the sofa, dining table or even bed with a cup of local coffee in hand.
If you enjoy cooking (my kitchen at home had more pans, utensils, and tools than I have), be sure to order a breakfast or dinner basket (or both).
All produce is locally sourced, from nearby farms, and the grill, steak, and roast packages were crammed with what the carnivores tell me, “quality meat”.
Because our refrigerator was pre-stocked with breakfast goodies like fresh milk, bread, butter, eggs, vegetables, and bacon, we were able to spend less time at the on-site farm shop and more focus on the things that make breakfast The Mole Resort is something very special – the endless list of activities on offer.
Ax throwing was high on my competitive family’s wish list.
Our enthusiastic guide, Will, taught us all the tricks to get high points and I would even say that an hour of ax throwing is just as therapeutic as the yoga classes offered at the resort’s gym.
If you’re traveling with kids, there are parent-child archery and ax throwing classes, as well as foot golf, tennis, pickleball, soccer, and nature classes like starting a fire, making bird boxes, and building dens.
More of a wellness warrior? There’s an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as a spa that offers everything from popular massages and facials to Reiki therapy and Hopi ear candling.
The challenging nine-hole golf course deserves a special mention.
Unlike many golf courses in activity-packed resorts like this one, the golf course at Mole Resort is no small thing – with superb greens sure to impress any avid golfer.
While the men played a game in the afternoon sun, Mom and I took the dogs to play with their new toys, bought at the local store, to Westward Ho! Beach, 30 minutes drive away.
I’m not sure if it was the blustery weather or the sheer size of the two-mile stretch of sand, but the place was quietly deserted for the time of year, and we hardly passed a soul by the time we reached Pebbleridge Kitchen—where we freshened up served up crab sarnies for the hungry players.
Just make sure you get there early before all the sandwiches are sold out – otherwise you’ll get pretty grumpy.
STAY THERE: Valley View Lodges for four people start from £272 per night in the low season, while hotel rooms for two people start from £81 per night.
Breakfast baskets are £45 for eight servings, while dinner baskets are available from £50 for four servings.