We’ve recently (well, the end of May…) got back from a lovely week spent in South Devon. It’s a place I spent loads of time in as a child, but haven’t visited since I was about 16 bar a 2 day hen do last year, when needless to say we did more drinking and chatting than sight seeing or exploring.
We stayed in part of whats commonly known as the ‘English Riviera’ around the area of Salcombe. Salcombe is a rather upmarket but gorgeous little fishing town with sky high rental and house prices. We stayed a little further away, up the estuary in Kingsbridge, which proved to be a rather good base for exploring.
We didn’t venture too far on our travels, but concentrated on the coastlines either side of the Salcombe estuary. The weather for late May wasn’t the best, we had a lot of lovely sunny days with a few bits of cloud and one day of torrential rain, but unfortunately the temperatures didn’t really reach ‘sitting on the beach’ weather very much. Despite this we did a lot of beach walking and exploring, and obviously eating and drinking!
I’ve split this post into two parts, covering the coasts on each side of the estuary, mostly so I don’t overload you all with the photos!
Both coastlines are gorgeous and boast plenty of great beaches and coastal walks, but in my opinion the west side is the prettier, so this is where we’ll start.
One of the nicer days we had we spent exploring the beaches around Bigbury on Sea and Bantham. Both are great beaches for waterspouts and we watched the intrepid surfers and windsurfers in the freezing cold sea. Bigbury on Sea also boasts a tidal island Burgh Island – you can walk over when the tides out or take a tractor type device when it’s in. You may have heard of it as forboding setting made it the perfect inspiration for Agatha Christie, and indeed it features (under different names) in two of her most well known novels: And Then There Were None and Evil Under The Sun, the former of which was recently made into a TV adaptation.
Both these beaches are brilliant for their rock pools, perfect to explore especially if you have kids – we saw a myriad of sea life including this perfect mussel! If you’re lucky tiny fish, shrimp and crabs may all pass by!
Moving slightly further down the same coastline you come to Thurlstone and South Milton. The former boasts an impressive hotel where we stopped off for a rather pricey cream tea, the latter a rustic beach shack serving amazing fish. The coastal path along this area has stunning views, and you can see Thurlstone Rock, an arched rock formation sitting proudly in the bay.
Even further down this coastline is Hope Cove – boasting brilliant beaches for kids. Walking just a few hundred yards up on the the coast path from the base of hope cove allows these fabulous views, some of our favourite from the holiday.
Lastly for this post we move to Salcombe itself. I love Salcombe, but its always very busy and sometimes hard to park so beware if you’re not fans of this. There’s lots of boutique style shops and seaside branches of favourites such as Joules, Sea Salt and Fat Face. I was SO happy to see that my favourite sweet shop from my childhood, Cranches, still existed too! Many a happy day was spent picking out Pixk and Mix from here whilst on my riding holidays and family holidays. There’s also a good few things for foodies, a great deli, coffee shops and bakery. By far my favourite thing to do in Salcombe though is grab one of their famous Ice Creams and just sit on the harbour and watch the world go by.
From Salcombe you can walk or catch a little passenger ferry to two popular beaches, North and South Sands. You could also attempt to drive to them but the roads are a little treacherous! Near South Sands, is a National Trust Property as well, Overbecks, where we spent a couple of hours exploring. The house has the BIGGEST taxidermy collection I’ve ever seen, as well as some steep exotic gardens that are well worth a stroll around.
Walking out of Salcombe towards North Sands is a great short 15-20 minute walk to do and provides some great views of the estuary itself and out to sea.
There are some great views across the estuary to some glorious beaches, Mill Bay and Sunny Cove. You can catch a tiny passenger ferry ( I say ferry it’s a tiny motorboat!) across the estuary which allows walking access to this side and those beaches, which we did on the one day that it was warm enough to sit on the beach.
In Part 2 we will cover the other side of the estuary, all the way up the coast to the town of Dartmouth. Stay tuned!