Devon has twice been voted Britain’s best county by the readers of Country Life. That will have come as no surprise to the Fursdon family, who arrived in the hamlet, now also called Fursdon, a few miles north of Exeter in 1259 and have stayed ever since. This is a part of Britain missed by many, including me, as we traditionally race past and on to the coast. But if you treasure beauty, silence and space, there can be few places to match the hidden farms and villages of central Devon. The beaches are still within a short drive, if you must, but here is a land untroubled by time.

* Subscribe to Country Life and save; Get the Ipad edition

We rented the sweet cottage above the main house, itself open to the public, for a long weekend and discovered this secret part of Devon. Unsurprisingly, given the landscape, next to the cottage door was an artist’s studio. The view from the main house perched high above the Exe valley looms across and over tightly folded hills flecked with sheep or ploughed to a blood-red tithe. We walked up to the Iron Age earthwork of Cadbury Castle Fort to be rewarded by the sight of the twin moors of Exmoor and Dartmoor in the distance. It’s a land all of its own and perhaps the readers were right in placing Devon above my beloved Hampshire. To stay in Fursdon Cottage, telephone 01392 860860 or visit www.fursdon.co.uk.

* Follow Country Life magazine on Twitter