A well known couple in the local hospitality industry have become the new owners of the Blue Ball Inn at Countisbury near Lynmouth.

Inside the 18th century Blue Ball Inn at Countisbury. Picture:  Courtesy of ColliersInside the 18th century Blue Ball Inn at Countisbury. Picture: Courtesy of Colliers

Phil and Jan Hills, who formerly ran The Boathouse at Instow and The Seagate at Appledore, have purchased the historic pub following a deal brokered by Colliers International.

On the market at £1,295,000 for the freehold, the stunning Exmoor coaching inn has occupied a prominent location on the old route from Porlock to Lynmouth since the 18th century.

Colliers said the Blue Ball- believed to be named after the practice of raising a blue ball on a pole for guests to hail passing coaches - attracts large numbers of hikers and history enthusiasts and has generated net sales in excess of £720,000 a year.

Ed Jefferson, from Colliers International's hotels team, said: "The Grade II listed inn, which has undergone a number of major refurbishments, has plenty going for it - it's on the main road to Lynton and Lynmouth and within walking distance of Exmoor.

"Our clients, the Illingworth family, acquired the property in 2007 when it was known as the Exmoor Sandpiper, before they embarked on an ambitious overhaul which included restoring the inn's former name."

Nick Illingworth, the manager and one of the family members who has just sold the property, will be staying on as a member of staff for a few months to provide a seamless transition for regular customers and staff.

The Blue Ball Inn has five separate public areas including a 120-cover restaurant which is also used for functions. There are also 16 letting bedrooms and a well-appointed one/two bedroom flat.