They say that the South Hams area of Devon is one of the most desirable locations in the whole of England and a few days spent in the vicinity of Kingsbridge will soon convince the first-time visitor of these credentials.
The natural beauty of the area encompasses the rugged clifftops from which walkers on the South West Coast Path can observe the crashing surf below, some of the finest sandy beaches in the region and, of course, the estuaries and creeks which have proved such a magnet for generations of yachtsmen.
Immediately to the east of the town it is only a few miles to a stretch of coast lined with beaches such as Blackpool Sands, Beesands and Hallsands. A visit to Slapton Sands is particularly worthwhile since there is also a large lagoon and nature reserve as well as a World War II Sherman tank recovered from the water and now a memorial to the near 1,000 US servicemen who perished during the fateful Exercise Tiger in 1944. The Start Bay Inn is highly recommended for its traditional fish and chips and other seafood dishes.
A little to the south, a good map will guide you to East Prawle and the quaint smuggler’s inn, the Pig’s Nose. Leave the car there and a short walk will bring you to the coast path where you can enjoy some panoramic views over unspoilt coastline.
No visit to the Kingsbridge area would, of course, be complete without making the short journey to Salcombe, the yachting mecca officially ranked the most expensive seaside location in the UK. This is all about smart boutiques and people watching, ideally from a waterfront eatery like Dick and Will’s.
When you and your wallet have both had time to recover from Salcombe’s hustle and bustle, why not head west to the far gentler environs of Hope Cove and Bigbury on Sea. The latter’s beach is particularly attractive for adults and children. From here you can clearly see the famous Burgh Island with its fine art nouveau hotel so beloved of Noel Coward and Agatha Christie and used frequently as a filming location. You can walk over to the island at low tide or take a ride across the causeway on the tractor bus.
The short walk to the top of the island is rewarded by some amazing views back towards the mainland which are bound to leave you planning your return visit to Devon’s glorious South Hams.
By Andrew Holcombe, Devon born and bred