Gem's worth hunting for; Holiday At Home DEVON, SOUTH HAMS.
YOU have to search for hidden treasure and Foxglove Cottage at Stancombe Manor - a real gem of a holiday spot - is well worth hunting for.
Your turn off the busy A38 20 miles north of Plymouth and head out into the rolling Devon hills.
The roads gradually become smaller and more winding. The only buildings are farms and small hamlets and eventually you wonder whether you are heading for anywhere at all.
Stancombe was not even registered on our road map, but suddenly the hedge-bounded lane dipped and veered to the right and there was the Manor, nestling sleepily in a quiet valley.
You could easily pass it by. There are no gaudy signs or neon lights and I'm grateful for that.
For this homely, welcoming place, which features accommodation including an 18th century manor house and eight fully modernised stone-built cottages in a converted barn, is surely for discerning families looking for a truly relaxing break.
My wife and I and our two children, Lauren, aged 13, and Benjamin, aged 10, together with one of Ben's schoolpals, stayed at the delightful Foxglove Cottage.
On site you get free use of the lovely swimming pool, a billiards room, a games room with plenty of toys for younger children, a tennis court, play area and boules pitch.
The boules are left on the pitch with guests trusted to leave them behind for new visitors - such a refreshing change from resorts where you have to pay extra, plus a deposit to use such facilities.
The wonderful thing about Stancombe Manor, which is set in 21 acres and has its own Cyder orchard, is that you can let the kids out to play anywhere on the site, knowing they are perfectly safe and not have to or check up on them every few minutes.
We visited in February, the first time we have gone away at this time of year, and can thoroughly recommend it.
There's no getting away from the fact that the weather may not be ideal, but a trip to the seaside is such a change at any time of the year. Foxglove Cottage is only a few miles from many coastal towns and beaches and we made the most of the opportunity to visit the likes of nearby Dartmouth, Brixham, Salcombe, including Hope Cove, once renowned for the exploits of smugglers.
There's a lot of history to the area. Kingsbridge is the centre of the South Hams region and recorded in the Domesday Book. Sir Francis Drake was later given Stancombe as part of the Manor of Sherford by Queen Elizabeth I in 1582.
You get the impression much of it has not changed over the years. Long may that continue to be the case.
Foxglove cottage is set in the peaceful and picturesque Stancombe Manor, nestling near Sherford in Devon's South Hams - designated an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Facilities at the holiday complex include a heated indoor swimming pool, sauna, tennis court, snooker room, children's games room and play area
Within easy traveling distance are the beautiful tourist towns of Salcombe, Dartmouth and Kingsbridge. Some of the UK's finest Blue Flag beaches are also nearby.
Foxglove is a pretty two-bedroom cottage in a magnificent tythe barn conversion. It can comfortably sleep six people in its double bedroom, twin bedroom and pull-down double bed in the living room. It has TV, DVD player, hi-fi and CD player and a microwave oven.
TREASURE... Foxglove Cottage at Stancombe Manor nestles sleepily in a quiet valley.