A charming B&B in the heart of Lynton owned by Gregg & Jacqui Ross
What inspired you to start running Lee House?
We had reached a point in our lives where our boys had grown up – Sam had bought his own house with his girlfriend; Olly was at University. We were spending long hours commuting, Gregg driving round the M25 and through the Dartford Tunnel every day, Jacqui on long public transport journeys.
We also worked shift work, often on conflicting hours so could go days where we may only see each other awake for an hour or 2. Something needed to change – retail was a very different beast to the one it had been when we joined it in the 1980s and neither of us were really enjoying the jobs we had any more so we started to think of other ways to spend our time. We could sell up and move to a cheaper part of the country, buy a small house and find part time jobs to supplement our semi-retirement or we could keep working, buy a big house and run a bed and breakfast – needless to say we chose the second option!!
We then started to look at such places on the market – we were looking all over the country – Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and Devon made our shortlist. We had never heard of Lynton & Lynmouth but came to visit Lee House and one other on the market at the time.
“We loved the towns and the area, loved the house and the rest, as they say, is history.”
What makes your place so special?
Lee House is a large Victorian property, that was originally 2 houses and were converted in to one and turned into a hotel in the 20th century. It has 3 floors and 2 separate staircases – our 4 second floor rooms have 2 separate staircases, so with only 2 rooms on each landing they feel very private.
The views from the front of the house are amazing – looking out over the Lynton valley to the fields and the woods beyond. We see some spectacular sunrises from the front of the house and there are often sheep and deer in the fields and buzzards circling the area looking for lunch. The garden at the back of the house raises steeply, as is usual for many Lynton properties, so the views from the top of the garden are again stunning.
Our house faces south and there is a garden terrace at the front which is a real suntrap, we and our guests enjoy sitting out there soaking up the sunshine, taking in the views or simply enjoying a drink and reading a book and listening to the sheep baaing on the hills and the birds singing. Two of our rooms have delightful balconies where you can sit or just throw the doors open and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine flooding into the room.
Our Garden room on the first floor at the back opens up onto the garden and has its own private patio area with chairs and a table which catches the afternoon sunshine. It’s a lovely secluded spot for our guests to enjoy relaxing after their day out. A great place to enjoy a cream tea too.
We have some amazing walks right on our doorstep – Hollerday Hill is behind the house, The Valley of Rocks and the South West Coast Path a short stroll away. The Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway is a little further down Lee Road, this is the easy link to Lynmouth. Pubs and restaurants are again a few minutes’ walk away from the door. Many of our guests park their car when they get here and don’t use it again til its time to leave. The walks and scenery in this area are outstanding and literally on our doorstep.
What do you enjoy most about being the owner of Lee House?
Quite simply Lynton and Lee House have very quickly become for us a fantastic place to live and work. We have made some lovely and tremendously helpful friends, the Bed & Breafast owners in the town are a great bunch of people who all support each other (and mostly share a love of Exmoor Gin). We are also so lucky to live in the Exmoor National Park – something we never thought we would do – with such beautiful scenery on our doorstep. We love our house and its gardens – the work that we have put into the front garden has opened it up and also given us a chance to meet lots of local people who always stop for a chat as we are gardening – the people in Lynton are so friendly and we really enjoy being part of this special community – something sadly lacking in the London suburbia we moved away from.
We have really enjoyed decorating Lee House over the winter and have now updated 5 of our 7 rooms over the last 2 winters, along with all the halls, landings, guest dining room and lounge. It is great to see the house being brought up to date using our own colour schemes and ideas. It really does feel like home now.
What are your favourite things to do in Lynton and Lynmouth?
This varies from season to season; we obviously have more spare time in the winter than the summer. Whenever we have some spare time we are keen to discover all that Exmoor has to offer, the scenery, the beaches, the wildlife, the walks and the drives – though we are still getting used to the narrow lanes once you come off the main roads!!
In the summer we love to go to the Lee Abbey Tea Room – the garden there is so pretty and if there is time follow a visit to the tearoom with a wander down to Lee Bay, such a lovely little beach. We also enjoy a round walk from the house along to North Walk, stopping off in the church yard to look over the cliff to Lynmouth and Countisbury Hill, then along the coastal path into The Valley of Rocks then back along the road to Lee Road and home again. On a clear evening we like to wander up the The Valley of Rocks and watch the sunset – it really is a magical place at sunset, so quiet and calm – sometimes its nice to take a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses with us too, especially after a busy day.In the Spring and Autumn we love to walk to Watersmeet, either from Lynmouth or if time allows we walk down to Lynbridge, up over Myrtleberry Cleave and walk into Watersmeet from the other way. We also like to climb up to the top of Countisbury Hill and enjoy a packed lunch while taking in the outstanding views.
In the winter, we love the bright crisp cold days. These days are ideal for donning lots of layers of clothes, good stout boots, woolly hats and gloves and going for a walk. If the seas are rough we love walking down to Lynmouth and watching the waves, then visiting the Pavilion where we can enjoy a hot chocolate and warm up – the views from there across Lynmouth bay are spectacular, especially when the tide is in and the sea is choppy.