Self-catering review: Little Shotts, Devon

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We are in a hut in the woods. It used to be a photographic studio, Gemma Roberts is explaining as we tease mud off boots at the front door. The previous occupant of the main house just up the drive (rambling, white, where Gemma and husband Mark live) was a keen photographer.

Our cabin – which they have converted into a holiday let – is in a rather murky spot (on this wet afternoon) just inside the gateway, reached by a track which traces a valley on the edge of Dartmoor. We are here, of course, because parts of the new Spielberg film, War Horse, were shot on the moor.

Are we sure we wouldn't like Mark to escort us to the pub, asks Gemma. Or fetch us after dinner? We're OK, we say, but agree to a dummy run through the woods to practise the route before the light goes. At dusk, The Rock Inn, a Dartmoor institution, really is only five minutes' walk for me, friend Jane, Gemma and her labrador. But later, in darkness, when it's just the two of us and a torch, a very un?Spielberg production comes to mind – The Blair Witch Project.

What a coup though, a cosy cottage with a pub practically in the backyard. Mulled wine, Devon Ruby beef, a veggie Thai curry, fantastic cheeses – what luck. Then back (yes, shrieking like banshees) through the wood to our luxury hut.

It has been refurbished with unusual reclaimed pieces. We have a bedroom each, tucked behind beautiful doors, one from a French apartment and the other from southeast Asia by the look of things. The main room is kitchen, dining and sitting room. A decorative hunk of wood from an Indonesian temple creates a mantelpiece above an antique woodburner. Lots of pretty touches, from woodland boughs in a vase to faux fur throws, a well?stocked fridge (ooh, Green & Blacks chocolate), plenty of teas and jams. Our only serious complaint is that the sofa is unforgiving and small – not in the least conducive to lying supine by the fireside while tucking in to the delicious selection of old books. These are stacked on narrow shelves in the bedrooms. A smaller niggle is the lack of table lamps and side tables on which to place teacups.

There is a telly but we prefer the radio. No light pollution outside, no phone signal. "Somewhere to get away from the jubilee, the Olympics and life in general," says Jane, stoking the woodburner.

Rain is tapping on bedroom skylights as darkness lifts. No tripping over one another this morning – hurrah – we have our own bathrooms.

Poached eggs on toast. Then out for a walk – booked with moorland guide Simon Dell, a retired policeman. "Ever seen a Dartmoor bog?" he asks. "Now, only step where I do." We follow an 18th-century granite tramway, built to transport quarried stone off the moor (before being taken to London) as Simon quotes from Conan Doyle, then recalls chases on Dartmoor in his policing days, after prison breakouts from the eponymous nick. By the time we come down from Haytor to the visitor centre, out of the raw, biting wind, we have been awed and enchanted as much as we could be by anything Hollywood could create.

• Dinner at The Rock Inn (01364 661305, costs ?19 for two courses, excluding wine. Book walks with Check out for a great new app guide to the area

Sally Shalam (, @sallyshalam)

This article was updated on 10 May 2012

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