Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Walk on the wild side in Devon’s heartland

Mid-Devon may not sound an inspiring location for walkers but it’s a wonderful place for amblers and ramblers alike.

This area of mid-Devon is often overlooked as people drive through it to the North Devon coast, but it’s a great place full of hidden challenges for ramblers and somewhere off the beaten track for walkers of all abilities to explore.

Anyone keen to find somewhere that the hoards have yet to discover should head this way.

http://bampton.blogspot.co.uk/?view=classicThere are still vast expanses of moorland here where you won’t see another soul when you’re out walking.

Our pub is a wonderful base for walkers. We think we’re pretty unique too, as we provide top-notch accommodation and award-winning, seasonal food, as well as help and advice regarding particular walks for those staying with us. It’s a haven for walkers here and a foodie heaven all wrapped into one.

Our part of Devon and this side of Exmoor is perfect for walkers of all abilities. There is plenty to see and do and miles of easily accessible footpaths. Not far from us is the 117-mile Two Moors Way, which traverses the whole county, coast-to-coast, from Plymouth to Lynmouth.

We’re also close to the Devon bit of the South West Coast Path, which has wonderful, breath-taking views. There are lots of circular walks here too, perfect for all abilities.

Guests very often treat themselves, at the end of a long day walking, to a meal before settling into one of our guest rooms for a good night’s sleep, before continuing with their outdoor adventure the next day. We also welcome walkers just wishing to stop off for lunch too.

Bampton is also on the Exe Valley Way walking route and on the West Country Way cycle route. It boasts easy walking around the town, including a ‘Town Trail’, and in the summer, it has floral displays for visitors to see too.

To find out more, please call us on 01398 332248 or visit our website: www.theswan.co.

Thank you to Steve Lee for the image of Bampton. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Recipe for sea trout

•    1 sea trout pinned and scaled approx. 1.5 – 2 kilo
•    250g sea salt
•    250g caster sugar
•    100ml gin – we use Wicked Wolf from Exmoor
•    50 ml of white wine vinegar
•    one good tablespoon of dried Cornish mixed seaweed optional (can be bought online from www.cornishseaweed.co.uk)

You will also need some grapefruit segments or almond flakes.

  • Place clingfilm over a tray and lay trout on it.
  • Give the mixture and good stir and cover all the trout with it. Wrap up tightly in the cling film and place in a fridge for 24 hours. The longer you leave it the drier and firmer the trout goes.
  • Wash the trout and wash of all the salt and gin.
  • Pat dry and its ready to go.
  • Slice thinly using a very sharp knife and garnish with ruby grapefruit segments. The addition of grilled flaked almonds is rather good as well.
  • If you’re lucky and you have a friend who’s a trout fisherman, this recipe works just as well with river trout and lake caught trout. 

Photos by www.davidgriffen.co.uk

Monday, 12 June 2017

Make us Muddy winners this week!

Just when you thought the elections were over…there’s more voting to do, this time of a foodie nature!

Due to a technical hitch on the Muddy Stilettos website last week, voting for their awards was hampered BUT we’ve now been given extra time to get as many votes as possible in for us. Can you help?

So far with your assistance, we’re finalists in the Best Destination Pub category. However, we now need you to vote again to ensure we win outright.

Voting has been extended and now ends at midday on Friday, June 16. Winners will be formally announced on the Muddy Stilettos blog as soon as the votes have all been verified.

Muddy Stilettos is the UK’s leading regional lifestyle blog, with more than 100,000 readers and a social following of 50,000 across 18 English counties, so to win in this category would be quite something for us.

So, if you love what we do here at The Swan, please vote today and ask all your friends and family to vote too. Thank you!

If you’ve already voted for us – thank you very much!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Bampton’s a buzz with parachuting bears & a duck race!

Visitors to Bampton next Saturday (May 27, 2017) are being invited to bring their bears to have a go at teddy skydiving or try some duck racing.

The town’s Spring Fest, which is on May 27 this year, includes races on the River Batherm and furry friends will be launched from the church tower just behind us at The Swan.

The event includes lots of wonderful activities and it really gives the town a buzz. It’s great fun for all the family and a good time to come and visit if you have little ones.

With the teddy parachuting, don’t think this is just a children’s event, people of all ages bring their bears to take part. Some of the teddy bears we’ve seen in previous years have been more than 60 years old! Afterwards, each bear gets his personal bravery award.

The event from 10am until 4pm also includes a Blue Cross dog show, classic cars, a street market, music, crafts and a dog agility event, as well as free parking.

Bampton is an idyllic, historic, market town, which still boasts a vibrant high street with a traditional butcher, baker and greengrocers. The area is hugely popular with visitors.

During the event, we’ll be celebrating the very best of our local suppliers. Our ethos has always been to provide good food, sourced locally wherever possible, while supporting other businesses in the community too. Among our list of suppliers is the butchers in Bampton, which is owned by nearby farmer John Westcott.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Melt in your mouth chocolate brownie recipe

Not sure how to entertain the kids in the coming half-term break? Why not make our chocolate brownie? This recipe can be great fun to whip up with kids of all ages and as most love chocolate you’re bound to be a hit…

•    400 grams of good plain chocolate
•    300 grams of unsalted butter plus a little extra for greasing the tray
•    250 grams of castor sugar
•    4 free range eggs (med size)
•    100 grams of plain flour
•    1 teaspoon of baking powder


•    Set oven to temperature 180°c or gas mark 4
•    Lightly grease a 20cm square baking tray and line with baking parchment
•    Melt half the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and keep the other half of chocolate back. You will need to cut the chocolate into small lumps.
•    When the chocolate has melted add the butter and stir until it has all melted.
•    Remove the mixture from the heat and add the sugar and beat in the eggs to the chocolate mixture until its really well mixed in.
•    Sieve the flour and baking flour into a large mixing bowl and slowly fold in the chocolate mixture.
•    Add the rest of chocolate pieces and if you wish, add some hazelnuts or peeled pistachio nuts too.
•    Pour the mixture into your baking tray and bake for 25-30 mins until it feels firm.
•    Leave it to cool and then turn out on to a wire rack and allow it to fully cool down.
•    Cut it up into squares and, bingo, you have brownies.
•    If you prefer to eat yours warm, when they’ve cooled down just place into a warm oven for 5 mins.           

Friday, 5 May 2017

Exmoor’s Outdoor Festival kicks off this month

North Devon and Exmoor’s annual Walking Festival began on May 1 (2017) and this year it has been rebranded as an Outdoor Festival to help attract more people to the area.

The month-long event run by Visit Exmoor includes forestry, coastal and moorland walks as well as routes through pretty hamlets and lots of other outdoor activities are also being encouraged too.

This festival is a great way for people to find out and experience for themselves North Devon’s and Exmoor’s most glorious countryside.

The proposal this year is that all of May 2017 will be known as an Outdoor Festival month, with plans by Visit Exmoor for guided walks, as well as other outdoor activities.

One of the places we recommend our guests visit is Tarr Steps near Dulverton. It used to be very famous and tourists flocked there but now it’s a bit quieter, even on nice sunny days in the summer.

For those who don’t know it, Tarr Steps is a bridge made of stone slabs over the river Barle. It’s the longest of its kind in Britain and was first mentioned in documents in the Tudor times, but is thought to be much older. It’s a truly magical place.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Devon offers the perfect formula for Poohsticks

Families looking for a homegrown holiday this year could indulge in a break playing Poohsticks in the heart of Devon.

We’re offering a cosy base for budding Christopher Robins interested in perfecting their stick launching technique.

We’ve got some marvellous rivers and streams with bridges here in the Westcountry that make great locations for the odd game of poohsticks!

Not so far from us is Tarr Steps and it’s also worth visiting the picturesque Malmsmead, with its Robber’s Bridge, near Oare, which was included in the Lorna Doone story!

Tarr Steps used to be very famous and tourists flocked there but now it’s a bit quieter even on nice sunny days in the summer. We love going there with our Labrador Tansy for a paddle in the river and a walk, and we always recommend it to our guests who stay with us.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Star gazing with pie…

With more stars to see in the night sky above Exmoor than in most conurbations around the world there’s never been a better time to head West for a sparkling adventure.

Combine star gazing with award-winning food and a cosy country inn, then you’ve got all the right ingredients for the perfect weekend away from it all.

Exmoor National Park is Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. The low light pollution here makes it the perfect place to get a great view of the stars.

On a clear night, the sky is simply stunning and many astronomical sights can be seen with the naked eye, or you can hire a telescope from one of the Exmoor National Park centres to see even more! One great location is Wimbleball Lake not far from Dulverton, which is near us here in Bampton.

So why not book in for a meal with us, do some star gazing and then rest and relax in one of our comfy rooms?

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Eating pedigree pork helps keep rare breeds alive

We’re encouraging our diners to eat pedigree pork in a bid to help keep rare breeds being reared in the area from dying out.

Eating porkers such as Oxford Sandy and Blacks, sometimes referred to as the plum pudding or Oxford Forest pig, brings money into the porcine industry and helps breeding programmes develop.

Buying meat from these more unusual breeds who have had happy lives living near us in the heart of Devon is not only better for the diner, as they produce much tastier meat, but it’s also good for the producer as it makes it viable for them to keep these breeds going.

Our ethos has always been to provide good food, sourced locally wherever possible, while supporting other businesses in the community too. We’re hoping that by giving our customers more information on the provenance of the meat they are eating it will help them understand the importance of animal husbandry a bit better and also promote our wonderful suppliers who do such a fabulous job protecting rare breeds. It’s all about awareness really.

You can’t get any fresher or tastier produce than stuff reared nearby and also because we know our suppliers well, we know their animals are treated with respect and have happy and good lives.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Food Fashions

We’ve seen food fashions come and go but we have always been ahead of the trends.

In the past five years, posh burger bars seem to have taken over the high streets, we luckily have always prided ourselves on our homemade burgers, whether it’s beef & chilli, lamb & coriander or chicken & guacamole, a new one is in production.

People nowadays are not only more food aware, with cookery programmes on every channel, they are also more into the healthy options and they want it to be tasty. Our customers are much more likely to choose an alternative to potato and love to try all the new and exciting grains, beans and pulses that are now readily available, a long way from boiled rice, which was once deemed exotic.

Vegetarian dishes are not exclusive any more, and thank goodness, the cheese and pasta frozen bake is well in the past. We normally have at least three choices on our specials board and these can change daily. Not all of these are ordered by a veggie, we have some ‘proper’ meat eaters that opt for one of these dishes from time to time.

With the fact that even the local veg shops are stocking a more varied and exciting selection, the idea of whipping a new vegetarian dish up is no longer boring, added to that the abundance of fresh herbs and spices we can get hold of, the sky’s the limit!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

We’ve served up 10 years in Bampton

We’re celebrating this month (March, 2017) after dishing up a decade of evening meals and lunches in Bampton.

We have run two of the town’s pubs and the secret of our success is based on offering the very best in seasonal, regional ingredients alongside always trying to provide outstanding service.

Donna, who co-runs The Swan, said: “I’ve always been passionate about good food and I often fantasised about one day owning and running my own pub, and I really pestered Paul to do it. Now here we are, 10 years on, celebrating our anniversary in the same year that we have also had our pub placed in the top 50 gastropubs in the UK.

“We started out at The Quarryman’s Rest but took on The Swan in 2011and have never looked back. We recently posted a Wicked Wolf Gin and Thai Night on social media and sold out in 24 hours. We’re experiencing one of our busiest years so far and we’re only a quarter of the way in!

“We are so lucky living here in the Westcountry, we have local farmers supplying their beef, rare breed pork, lamb and poultry and the fishing communities providing us with the freshest Brixham haddock for our beer battered haddock and chips with crushed peas. On the menu at the moment we have locally-farmed salt brisket, Exmoor Ox cheek, Exmoor lamb and local pigs’ cheeks.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

We’re named in Gastropub top 50

We’re celebrating this week after being named as one of the top 50 gastropubs in the country at an industry-wide awards ceremony in London recently (January 30, 2017).

We polled in at 50 and Paul says this is very apt as he is celebrating his 50th birthday this year too!

This is a major placing for us as we’ve always wanted to get into this elite group of pubs with chefs and teams who are at the very top of their game. We’re chuffed.

The ‘Estrella Damm’ Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by a group with members including food writers, executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators.

We’re the industry’s choice and are delighted to be part of these awards for the first time this year.

The ceremony was organised by the publican’s publication The Morning Advertiser, which says the top 50 is the definitive list of the best gastropubs in Britain.

The Morning Advertiser’s Food and Drink Editor, Nicholas Robinson says: “Getting on this list is the jewel in the crown for foodie pubs across the UK. It’s the place to be seen.”

Thursday, 19 January 2017

We’re taking part in the Exmoor Food Fest

We’re very excited once again this year to be part of the 2017 Exmoor Food Fest, which runs from February 1 until 28.

It’s an event to showcase the very best the region has to offer diners and it is a celebration of all local produce and the culinary expertise we have here on our doorstep.

We will be running special menus as part of Exmoor Food Fest on Tuesday to Friday lunchtimes and Tuesday to Thursday evenings, excluding Valentine’s Day, during February with two courses priced £10 and three courses £15.

Paul and Donna will also be cooking at a special launch dinner for the 2017 festival at the Luttrell Arms in Dunster on January 26. They will be two of the seven, award-winning chefs including Olivier Certain from the Taste of the West top award-winning restaurant, Clavelshay Barn, joining the Luttrell’s Head Chef, Barrie Tucker to cook seven courses.

It’s a privilege to have been asked again to cook at this special event and we’re delighted to be working alongside some of the areas most talented chefs like Olivier. It promises to be a fantastic evening out for everyone who comes along.
Information about the Exmoor Food Fest can be found at www.exmoorfoodfest.com.

To book your table with us in February, please call 01398 332248 or visit www.theswan.co.