Devon is fondly known as England’s answer to the French Riviera thanks to its glorious stretch of golden beaches, hidden coves and pretty fishing villages. The expanse of countryside meets the glittering ocean where hoards of fisherman eagerly catch the famous brown-shelled Devon crab for the busy restaurants on shore. At the very heart of all the action is Salcombe, a coastal town with a busy harbour. It’s traditional in every sense – local traders, pastel-coloured cottages and panoramic views across the estuary.
Devon has long been a favourite of mine with it’s ever-changing seasons. Over the years I’ve celebrated major milestones from birthdays to New Years, eaten countless moules-frites at the Oyster Shack, run many a coastal path to combat the food indulgence and enjoyed a glass of rosé (workout reward, of course) at The Beachhouse (I blogged about it here) while looking out to sea at South Milton Sands.
It’s one of those places where you go to recharge and escape the everyday chaos life throws at you by swapping your heels for wellies and leaving your three bars of phone signal somewhere along the A38. It’s a well known fact that sea air does wonders at reducing stress levels. So let’s take a big gulp on it.
After a kind invitation from friends to spend the weekend with them in Devon, we packed our bags and made our way south to sunnier climes. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of our favourite places to eat, drink and rest if you’re thinking of doing the same this summer.
CAFES, RESTAURANTS & BARS
Dick and Wills – Tucked away down several flights of stairs, you’ll find this hidden treasure. A fantastic restaurant with outdoor decking that serves staggering views across the estuary. D&W offers a range of traditional dishes made from high quality produce. The interior is quite modest in size so make sure you book in advance. Fore St, Salcombe TQ8 8JG
The Ferry Inn – A no-frills boozer with plenty of outdoor seating overlooking the busy estuary. You can find it right next to the passenger ferry to East Portlemouth – very handy if you’re keen to catch the last one home after a few pints! Fore St, Salcombe TQ8 8ET.
The Winking Prawn – This shabby chic beach café and BBQ is practically on the beach in North Sands (just outside of the main drag of Salcombe). It has brilliant views of the sea with a quirky dressing-up box to keep the kids (and those young at heart!) amused. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. North Sands, Salcombe, Devon, TQ8 8LD
Island Street Bar & Grill – A sister restaurant to the Winking Prawn, this local hangout serves decent food in a relaxed setting, quite often known for its live music. The terrace hangs over the water’s edge providing a great spot to socialise with friends and for those single ladies amongst us, you might even bag yourself a nice yachtsman! Unit 4 Hannaford’s Landing, Island St, Salcombe TQ8 8FE
The Salcombe Deli – A fan of pasties like me? Make sure you pop in to see the lovely people at Salcombe Deli for a range of tasty bites and sandwiches.
WHERE TO STAY
There is just a handful of places to stay in Salcombe but a range of great hotels and B&B’s are located in neighbouring towns and villages. The ones that spring to mind are:
Salcombe Harbour Hotel – A slightly pricey but award-winning hotel in a prime waterside location. The hotel offers panoramic views across the estuary and also boasts a spa, cinema and private mooring for those arriving on water. Conveniently, it’s just a short walk from the collection of eateries, shops and harbour front. A very gorgeous hotel to book for special occasions. Cliff Rd, Salcombe TQ8 8JH
The Fortescue Inn – A Grade II-listed pub which offers an affordable stay in Salcombe. The rooms have been soundproofed and the staff are very knowledgeable on local amenities. The pub serves food everyday from 12pm with outdoor space to enjoy a pint. Union St, Salcombe TQ8 8BZ
South Sands Hotel – Located on the beach and just a few minutes drive out of the centre of Salcombe, this beautiful hotel has views right out to sea. There’s a restaurant within the hotel and some of the rooms are dog-friendly. If you haven’t checked out their website already, you will be sold by the pictures alone. Bolt Head, Salcombe TQ8 8LL
Other popular spots to look for accommodation include Kingsbridge (nearby town with more amenities including superstores, petrol stations and a passenger ferry to Salcombe. I’m also a fan of South Thurlestone, South Milton, Bantham and Bigbury-on-Sea. Airbnb have some great rentals, too.
THINGS TO DO
Salcombe is known for its well-trodden shopping streets (Jack Wills opened its first store here, I’ll have you know) so take a walk along the stretch of Fore Street which runs parallel to the water’s edge. Island Street is also seeing a rejuvenation with a diverse selection of art galleries, independent fashion stores and food stalls. The estuary also provides the perfect playground for watersport enthusiasts and those budding sailors amongst us!
Busby & Fox – A new addition to the Salcombe High Street, B&F stocks independent fashion brands, homeware, jewellery and flowers. Located opposite Dick and Wills. 51 Fore Street, Salcombe, Devon TQ8 8JE
East Portlemouth Beach – A sandy beach which varies in size according to the tide so prepare accordingly! Definitely best to access via the passenger ferry from Salcombe as the drive around the estuary is 15 miles of single-track roads. The Venus Beach Cafe will ensure you’re fed and refreshed throughout day with a selection of pasties, ice creams, tea and coffee. East Portlemouth, Nr Salcombe, Devon
Salcombe Gin Distillery – Located on Island Street, the distillery also features the lovely Boathouse bar where you can sample the gin and watch the distillation in action. For the first time in July and August, Salcombe Gin will deliver hampers of gin to visiting yachts moored in the estuary which include a 70cl bottle of the good stuff along with two glasses, Fever-tree tonic, copper tongs and a ruby red grapefruit for the signature garnish. Fancy schmanchy! The Boathouse, 28 Island St, Salcombe TQ8 8DP
Sea Kayak – Whether it’s kayaking, paddle boarding or beach sports, there’s plenty of options to choose from for lessons and rentals while you make the most of the water.
Bolt Head Walk – For the keen ramblers amongst you, there’s an array of walking routes along the coast for you to fully appreciate the glorious views Devon has to offer.
MY VERDICT ON SALCOMBE
A quaint coastal town on one of the prettiest coastlines in England, it doesn’t get much better than this. Salcombe has captured the imagination of many Londoners who have since swapped their power suits for nautical stripes… there’s good reason it’s called “Chelsea-on-Sea” much to the locals distaste!
If you’re looking for a family getaway, don’t be too quick to book a flight outta here when you have the English Riviera just a few hours drive south. Plenty of fun for all the family.