When voting for myself (as one does) for the Great Outdoors magazine’s Outdoor Personality of the Year Award, I saw that the Holne community shop and tearoom on south-east Dartmoor had been nominated for the Walkers’ Café of the Year Award, and I voted for it too. (You can do so here, before 15 November.)
I have a happy memory of a visit to the tearoom on 27 April 2007. I had been invited to chat to Lindsey Sill of the Mid-Devon Advertiser, and we had agreed to meet at Holne. I was staying with my friends Pat and Rozel Lawlor and their three rough-haired dachshunds, Gromit, Diva and Pip. Gromit was my special friend and I could see that, as I set off for the moor, he wanted to come. So he got into the front seat of my car, proud to be the Campaigner’s Dog.
When we met Lindsey she said she would prefer to do the interview indoors rather than walking and talking. So we repaired to the Holne café, which welcomed us all, including Gromit. He would have hated to have been left in the car, and instead he sat placidly under the table while we talked.
Subsequently in 2011, Holne villagers formed a co-operative and in 2014 raised enough funds to buy the premises with the help of the Charity Bank and local shareholders. Community volunteers have run the shop ever since, and it is registered with South Hams District Council as an Asset of Community Value, which gives it greater protection.
The café was, and still is, friendly and accommodating. Gromit found it most acceptable and it takes pride in its dog-friendly tearoom. The refreshments are excellent, and the shop stocks a good range of local produce and crafts. It is also an information point for the Dartmoor National Park. It is just the sort of place that walkers are pleased to find.
And afterwards, on that April morning I strolled with Gromit along the Wheal Emma leat, the trees just coming into leaf. I enjoyed the views over the Double Dart while Gromit searched for rabbits.