Hire an eco-friendly Volkswagen for a stress-free family break to Devon
SMASHED-UP biscuits, half-chewed raisins and muddy boot marks – the grim hallmarks of a car’s back seats when you have kids.
But set off in a lovely holiday hire car and these things are blissfully missing, at least until you pass back the biscuits and raisins.
So it was as my wife and I, with our two daughters strapped in the back, headed from south-west London in our super-clean, super-eco Volkswagen e-Golf to find out if it is easy, convenient and stress-free to take a family break to East Devon in an electric vehicle.
The first hurdle arrived a couple of hours into the trip. I had plotted a route on the integrated sat nav to a rapid-charge point along the way — but forgot to follow the directions.
Cue a re-routed journey to the charge point. We made it with just seven miles’ worth of battery left.
But in went the nozzle and off we went for some food for the 45 minutes or so it took to fully recharge.
Back on the road, we arrived at our home for the weekend. Higher Wiscombe is a collection of three beautiful five-star holiday cottages set in 52 acres of rolling fields.
We stayed in Flint Cottage — all exposed wooden beams, bare stone walls and beautifully toasty thanks to underfloor heating. When the weather took a turn for the worse, we fired up the log-burning stove and hunkered down in front of the TV.
With three en-suite double bedrooms, Flint Cottage had more than enough space for our little party. But with the three-bedroom Thatched Cottage, which has stunning views over a green valley, and the ten-bed Winery also on site, there is enough space to fit up to 32 guests.
There’s also lots to enjoy in the lovely grounds of Higher Wiscombe. Our girls Madeleine, five, and three-year- old Freya loved yomping in the fields, but there’s also a heated pool and a games room.
Guests are encouraged to recycle rubbish and there are two e-vehicle charge points. A luxury volthole.
They were not as fast as the rapid chargers on the road but the battery was full in a few hours — and that was great as there is lots to see, do and eat around Higher Wiscombe.
There are the beautiful beaches at Branscombe, Beer and Sidmouth, all within a few miles of each other, then there’s ,another real treat in Sidmouth — The Donkey Sanctuary.
Little ’uns can pet and stroke all manner of donkeys, from teeny-tiny ones to bigger, hairier mules. There is also a playground, an interactive exhibition barn and a hedge maze.
The Donkey Sanctuary ticks the e-vehicle box, too, with a couple of charging points in the car park.
In terms of places to eat around Higher Wiscombe, we were spoilt.
A rustic spot in nearby Ottery St Mary is The Rusty Pig. Relax as delicious, locally sourced food is brought to you without having to order from the menu.
Another option is the tapas-style fare at The Holt pub in Honiton. Early on a Friday evening, we sat in the busy downstairs bar with our girls and piled in to chorizo, crunchy potatoes, crispy squid and southern-fried chicken drumsticks. All delicious.
But for something extra-special, you MUST try The Pig at Combe.
The incredible restaurant and hotel are housed in a sprawling Elizabethan property which sits within 3,500 acres of stunning scenery.
Its dining room has wood-panelled walls, huge windows, quirky taxidermy and extravagant chandeliers.
The food is magnificent, too. Anything not grown in the hotel garden is sourced within 25 miles. My wife’s Buckhouse Farm lamb and my 28- day aged sirloin steak were groan-inducingly tasty. There are even vehicle charge points in the car park, too.
So East Devon is e-vehicle friendly — and our return to London was easy, with one stop to top up the charge.
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The relative lack of rapid-charge points across the UK can create a feeling of jeopardy. But with mobile apps, charging isn’t tricky. I was also able to top up at home, with an old-fashioned plug-in socket, before the car was collected after our trip.
As I handed the keys back to the courier, I winced as he surveyed my attempts to clean up the biscuits, raisins and muddy boot marks.
But batteries had been recharged — in every sense.
Go: Devon (by electric car)
STAYING THERE: Premier Cottages has more than 1,000 4H and 5H properties, with on-site facilities including EV charge points, swimming pools, gyms, spas, indoor games rooms and kids’ play areas. Seven nights’ self-catering at Higher Wiscombe’s Thatched, for six, starts from £595 in total. A three-night break is from £450. See premiercottages. co.uk or call 01404 871 360.
GETTING THERE: Our e-Golf was supplied by Volkswagen UK. See volkswagen.co.uk/new/golf/explore/e-golf