Higher Coombe
Buckfastleigh, Devon

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“Effortlessly placed in a peaceful pocket of the Dartmoor National Park, the house modestly reveals itself”

This exceptionally beautiful home, set in a quiet wooded valley in Dartmoor National Park, has been extensively renovated with great care and sensitivity over many years, subtly pairing the character of its 19th-century industrial foundations with elegant modern details. The plan in its entirety spans just under 2,950 sq ft, comprising a three-bedroom stone-built house, a garden studio and workshop nestled in the boughs of the riverside woodland, and a newly renovated annexe. Lovingly tended formal gardens are set against a background of trees and gently sloping fields, with a stretch of the River Mardle winding its way through the property. There is also private woodland and an adjoining species-rich wildflower meadow, with the entire plot extending to around 2.75 acres.

The Tour

Following a country lane through the rural idyll of Dartmoor’s conservation area, the house is set quietly among the trees and secluded from sight behind the gates of a private driveway. The main entrance, through a courtyard, is particularly inviting: a single-glazed glass house where vines trail overhead with a butler sink set to one side and plenty of space for muddy boots after long walks across the moors.

Rich in historical context, the building was converted from a Dartmoor mine engine house to a domestic home in the 1980s. The impeccable execution of the renovation clearly illustrates an intimate understanding of the building, with the interiors full of interesting original detailing and architectural character.

A series of free-flowing living spaces unfold across the ground level, with a modern kitchen connecting to the dining area, softly illuminated by a bay of fenestration beneath an oak beam. Stone walls are washed in a soft white and quarry tiles run underfoot. A pantry and utility room lie separately to one side.

The main living space, a former boiler room, is characterised by extraordinary volume in height and length. The interior has a subtle warm elegance, with double-height pitched ceilings defined by original oak beams and an excellent quality of natural light. In cooler months, the log burner becomes a natural focal point, while in spring and summer, the timber-framed glass doors can be thrown open to the courtyard.

Steps lead down to a quiet nook set aside for reading and a second living space. A more intimate room, the latter is enveloped by rich anthracite walls and a modern log burner positioned centrally. Glass doors open onto a heavenly backdrop of greenery and the sound of the river flowing by.

Two of the three bedrooms are on the ground-floor level, with one overlooking the river and the other with enchanting valley and woodland views.

Stairs ascend from the main living space up to a mezzanine study, a quiet spot to work with views across the high moorland landscape. This space flows through to the main bedroom, a restful retreat with an en suite bathroom (with a bathtub) and plenty of built-in wardrobe space.

Set independently from the main house is a modern annexe of around 300 sq ft, offering great flexibility of use as a workshop or additional home-working space. The workspace has a well-designed kitchenette and a shower room with warm wood-panelled walls.

Accessed by footbridge, the garden studio is an inviting space designed for creating. The atmosphere is mesmerising; the views and relaxing soundtrack provided by the running river are added to by the soft, dappled light that filters through nearby tree canopies. The adjoining workshop provides a practical space for making or additional storage space, and a long veranda keeps logs dry for winter fires.

Outside Space

The grounds are undeniably beautiful, forming an integral part of the overall experience of this home. There is much to see – formal, informal, woodland, wilderness, meadow, river, stream, waterfall and moorland view. Visible from the courtyard, yew hedges and an intricate larch pergola create dramatic structural interest, anchoring the house and contrasting with laid-back surrounding landscape. Lawns are bordered by deep flower beds chock-full of herbaceous perennials and shrubs.

A cantilevered deck glides over the river, offering up the perfect spot for peaceful breakfasts, warm sundowners and evening suppers around a fire. The bowing boughs of a majestic beech tree balance over the crystal-clear waters of the River Mardle, a tributary of the larger River Dart.

A productive organic vegetable garden, lovingly tended to over many years, lies in a sheltered and secluded spot behind a dense beech hedge. Complete with a connected potting shed, tool store and greenhouse, this is the perfect set-up for any keen gardener seeking self-sufficiency. A summer fruit cage sits alongside the studio with an enclosed terraced orchard of apple trees leading to a copse, a haven for wildlife.

In spring, bluebells and anemones blanket the dense pocket of private woodland just beyond the vegetable garden, with access from here to the river’s two natural plunge pools. In summer, there are carpets of ferns and clusters of naturalised cyclamen.

Beyond a meandering box hedge and hand-crafted chestnut fencing, a wildflower meadow of around 1.75 acres rises up from the river giving spectacular far-reaching views along the valley and up to the moors. In the warmer months, the south-facing meadow is alive with butterflies and pollinating insects. A mown path leads beyond a majestic Horse Chestnut with views to the South Hams and South Devon Coast.

Everywhere is birdsong – kingfishers, dippers, herons and mandarin ducks are regular visitors to the riverside, while buzzards glide overhead. At night, the soft call of owls echoes across the valley.

The Area 

Dartmoor is characterised by its majestic tors, dramatic moors and secret wooded valleys. There are extensive walks directly accessible from the house, with Bench Tor, Combestone Tor and the upper reaches of the River Dart a short drive away.

A short stroll away in Scorriton is a pub, and the house is a seven-minute drive from Holne with its community shop for daily essentials and historic inn.

Buckfastleigh and Buckfast Abbey are a 10-minute drive away. With its antique shops, cafés, artisan bakery and award-winning fishmongers, Ashburton is 13-minutes away.

The historic market town of Totnes is a 23-minute drive with a range of independent shops, stores and markets. Dartington, a historic visitor destination with a cinema and thriving community of businesses, Schumacher College and riverside walks, is also easily reached.

There are many well-regarded cafés and restaurants in the area – including Emilia and Rafikis in Ashburton, award-winning organic pub and dining at The Bull Inn in Totnes and the much-loved organic Riverford Field Kitchen.

Despite its rural setting, Higher Coombe is easily reached by road and rail. The A38, also known as the Devon Expressway, is accessed at Buckfastleigh and provides connections to Exeter, the A30 and the M5 as well as Plymouth and Cornwall. Trains to London Paddington, with a journey time of just over two and a half hours, calling at Exeter, Taunton and Reading can be accessed at Totnes. There is also a regular service to Bristol.

Council Tax Band: D

Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.

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