Pictured: Beautiful Soar Mill Cove in Salcombe Salcombe in Devon, much like Rock in Cornwall, conjures up a certain kind of holidaymaker. But, says, Lex Thornely, there is so much more to this beautiful coastal town than breton tops and men in pink shorts.
For me Salcombe is a picture-book seaside town. Perhaps it’s those tantalising glimpses of calm estuary waters and gently bobbing boats framed by the town’s narrow streets. Or maybe it’s the fresh sea air that rolls in over the beautiful Devonshire hills that surround Salcombe. One thing’s for sure, the unique nautical roots of this place run as strong as they did back in the 1800s, when fast fruit schooners returned from the West Indies laden with exotic fruit. Even now, the traditional Salcombe Yawl is still handcrafted here alongside wooden clinker-built boats. Nowhere better for a weekend of late summer sun or even a wintery walk across the famously golden beaches. Visit once and you'll be hooked. STAY Wander through the doors of the newly refurbished Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa and you’ll discover one of the UK's most desirable waterside hotels. Its panoramic vista of the Salcombe Estuary is matched by its Luxury Coastal Spa that is literally hewn from the solid Salcombe rock upon which the hotel sits. We've sampled Michelin-starred chef Alex Aitken's food and it is sublime. He selects his seafood from the boat each day, designing a menu around it. Don't miss the crustacean bar and take time to enjoy hotel’s guest cinema room and new Jetty Restaurant too.
Just a stone’s throw from Salcombe lies Soar Mill Cove Hotel, nestled in its own valley leading down to Soar Mill Cove itself. Traditional and family friendly, this hotel is perfect for a break with the kids. Two bays down from Salcombe lies South Sands Hotel which is right on the beach at South Sands. With beach suites and a beach side restaurant, stunning views of the estuary can be enjoyed over a plate of the South West's most delicious fresh seafood. During your stay a quick nip up the estuary aboard the South Sands Ferry should definitely be on your tick list, if only to experience the Sea Tractor. Kids will love this one.
If luxury self-catering is more your scene then move into your very own ‘chocolate box’ thatched cottage. Or how about a waterfront property with its own mooring? Or a luxury apartment with a private beach? Salcombe Information Centre 01548 843927 can find whatever you need. PLAY Whether you’re a land lubber or love the water, the Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary offers up hours of entertainment, alongside some more unique activities: If you like the feel of sand between their toes then head to one of Salcombe’s sweeping golden sand beaches or coves. Hop on the Salcombe-East Portlemouth ferry for pristine golden beaches and crystal clear waters. When the tide is right, more than 1km of beach weaves gently all along the estuary’s edge with Salcombe town in full view, clinging to the hillside opposite. A lunch stop off at Venus Café won’t disappoint - perhaps lobster, fries and garlic butter followed by the famous sticky toffee pudding. Salcombe is not best known for its surf so to compensate there's a plethora of water-based activities to choose from. Burn up some calories during an estuary tour with a difference - aboard a Stand Up Paddleboard. Marie Buchanan, the UK’s leading female SUP-er, uses the estuary as her training ground and if it’s good enough for her then it’s good enough for us. Try a two hour SUP tour with Sea Kayak and SUP Salcombe from £35pp. Sea N Shore offer many adrenalin inducing water based activities including Coasteering and Sea Safari and Wildlife Tours. For all you walkers out there, the South West Coastal Path slices through the town with our top pick being the spectacular walk from Salcombe to Bolt Head & round to Hope Cove. Pick up a picnic from the Salcombe Yawl Deli - the crab and prawn sandwiches are infamous and pasties are baked on site - and you have the makings of a perfect day. EAT The South Hams area can genuinely compete with some of the world’s best food producing regions so it’s only right you indulge in produce that’s been stunningly crafted by these fab restaurants and eateries: Sea View Eateries: Enjoy a South Devon Lobster & Crab Thermidore at Dick & Wills Waterside Brasserie or experience Salcombe Harbour Hotel's Crustacean Bar at their Jetty Restaurant. A seafood BBQ at the legendary Winking Prawn (also a Country Calling top 10 family restaurant) at North Sands is another favourite among the locals, as is a Sundae at the new Sailor V café.
For traditional pub fare it has to be The Victoria Inn in the town centre where locality is key - beef from 5 miles away, fish caught locally, home-made ice cream that will knock you out. Or hop on a boat to The Millbrook Inn , located in the ridiculously picturesque village of South Pool. Grab a bite to go from The Salcombe Deli and La Creperie de Salcombe or cool down with a scoop or two of Salcombe Dairy’s famous ice cream…the honeycombe is to die for! Pictured above; a seafood platter at the Winking Prawn