It’s always nice to have something special in mind when you go on a staycation holiday. A goal. Something to aim for.
When you go to the Lake District, you want to see lakes. When you go to the seaside, you want to spend time by the sea.
So, when a bunch of us went to Salcombe recently, we decided the aim of the game was simple. We were going in search of good food, done well. Foodie heaven, in Devon. Not the posh stuff, nothing with Michelin stars or fancy rosettes. More like Sunday roasts, ice cream sundaes, fish’n’chips. Basically, treats galore.
Comfort food for comfortable times. Obviously, we would do some strolling, swimming and sightseeing along the way, but our primary objective, was – food, glorious food.
Didn’t take long to find what we were looking for. Paradise in portion sized pieces. Mmm.
We were heading to the coast, somewhere between Plymouth and Torquay, to South Hams, a pretty green pocket, snuggled in the southwest.
The name comes from an old English word, “hamme,” meaning enclosed or sheltered place. And is so called, because the area is in the south and has one of the mildest climates in the country, thanks to the sheltering granite columns of nearby Dartmoor.
Of course, if you are going to explore the South Hams, you need somewhere nice to stay. We chose the pretty seaside resort of Salcombe, sometimes known as the Jewel in the Crown of Devon. Very glad we did too.
Salcombe is a charming, picturesque huddle of colourful houses and hotels slipping down to the shoreline. Little back lanes filled with lobster pots, cobbled alleys, half hidden stairways, all leading to Fore Street, a wiggly high street, filled with pedestrians, shops, cafes and bars.
There are also plenty of independent boutiques selling high class clothing, including the original Jack Wills shop, which has the sign, “ShipSmith and Ironmonger,” out front. Intriguing as that was, we had no time for such fripperies, for we were in search of paradise.
We certainly found it with our dog friendly accommodation, a sweet Edwardian cottage with parking outside for two cars and lots of modern conveniences inside.
Looks like it has recently been done up throughout too, leaving it comfy, cosy, lovely and light. All sprinkled with cutesy seaside knick knacks, my favourite being a picture in the downstairs loo of the Spice Gulls.
The front door opens into a wonderful warm living room, large enough for lounging, snoozing or just spending quality time with friends and family.
Spreading yourselves over sofas, chairs, an enormous beanbag or the feature window seat, which comes with its very own cushion just for dogs.
For those of us that love to cook up a storm, there is a well stocked, well appointed kitchen diner. A definite bonus for those in search of home cooked happiness, it was a sight to gladden the senses.
Upstairs there are three bedrooms, enough to sleep six happy souls, along with a bright, sparkly bathroom, complete with rainfall shower, wide enough to waltz in, if that’s your thing.
If all of that wasn’t enough, there is also a little lane at the top of the garden, leading to the local corner shop and post office. Very convenient for late night snack attacks. If you prefer to head to the town centre, it is only a few minutes stroll downhill.
Aune Valley Meat
I have learned over the years of winding up in interesting places, to look for the nearest farmshop. Pretty much guaranteed to have every ingredient you could possibly desire, all under one roof.
It will also have plenty more besides. Stuff you definitely don’t need, but will still enjoy noshing on. In this case, it was Aune Valley Meat, who as well as offering meaty goodness by the grill full, also do a fine line in tasty groceries.
We walked away with enough provisions for a slap up evening meal, along with a round of Devon Cream Teas. Very nice.
Beach Hut Breakfasts
Next morning, we headed out to the local beach, North Sands, just minutes away, for a dip in the sea. You can swim right from the heart of the town if you wish, but we wanted to feel the sand beneath our toes.
My bright pink dryrobe came in very handy after a few minutes of splashing about in the chilly, choppy waters. We then retired to The Winking Prawn, a beautifully cosy, beach hut cafe, just yards from the sand, decked out with cheerful bunting, decorated bright pink throughout, matching my dryrobe.
They do a fine line in light snacks, so I went for toast and coffee. But others were tucking into a very impressive buffet breakfast, easily big enough to satisfy the heartiest of appetites.
On our way home, we picked up some homemade Rhubarb and Ginger jam from a tray of tempting preserves, left on a wall, sold in aid of the Air Ambulance. Goodness all round.
Superb Ice Cream Sundaes
We had decided to pass the time by strolling, swimming, and stopping for food whenever something tasty appeared. Which meant we spent several happy hours poking around Salcombe itself.
The stairways and sloping streets make it a great place to explore. Following our noses one afternoon took us along the side of Batsons Creek to Lower Batson, a tiny hamlet of thatched cottages and flower filled gardens.
Looks like the sort of place Miss Marple would just love to visit. Strolling home we stopped at Salcombe Dairy, deciding we had earned ourselves some superb ice cream sundaes.
Splendid Sunday Roasts
The next day was Sunday, which could only mean one thing. A roast dinner. After wandering along Fore Street, we realised there were a pair of good looking pubs right opposite one another.
Since they both seemed equally inviting, we flipped a coin, then headed to the Victoria Inn. Where we made our choices from a rather fine sunday lunch menu; beef, pork or veggie, with all the trimmings. Most marvellous it was too. Did everything a Sunday Roast should do.
Coffee and Cake
There is a passenger ferry from Salcombe, which takes you over the estuary to East Portlemouth. Once there, you can walk barefoot along the sand and if the tide is right, explore the delights of Mill Bay, one of the prettiest beaches around.
After watching the surfers do their thing amongst the wind tossed waves, we headed to the Venus Company Cafe, for a monster slice of Victoria sponge washed down with steaming hot sips of coffee. Perfect.
Fish & Chips
You can’t go to the seaside without eating fish and chips, it wouldn’t be right. One day, whilst watching high tide breakers crashing over the harbour wall at nearby Hope Cove, we popped into The Cove, Cafe Bar where we enjoyed the finest, breadcrumb battered, hake fillet and chips with mushy peas I have ever encountered. Magnificent.
Also, top tip, it’s a great spot to watch the sun go down over the sea.
Of course, us humans weren’t the only ones on holiday, we had Rufus the hound dog with us, he deserved treats too. Next morning we drove to Kingsbridge, the nearest town, to visit the Doggy Deli. One of the UK’s most popular natural dog treat providers.
Not sure Rufus knows what that means, but I do know he was absolutely delighted by the box of doggy delights we picked up.
Catch of the Day
On our last afternoon, we met up with friends who live locally. They took us to their favourite fish dish specialist, The Cricket Inn, Beesands.
A stones throw from the sea, using locally caught, fresh fish and shellfish, it is the perfect place to find the perfect plaice. Or cod. Or, in my case, pan fried seabream.
Was also the perfect place to end our fabulous foodie tour of South Hams. A journey which had taken us from hopeful expectation to joyous satiation.
Turns out, if you are in search of foodie heaven, and you fancy finding it in Devon, then Salcombe is the place to be. It’s a seaside town overflowing with secret stairways, charming corners and tasty treats for all. Heaven in Devon indeed!
The Salcombe Information site has lots more on the things to do in and around the Salcombe area.
About The Cottage
Tor Cottage sleeps six, is within easy walking of Salcombe and has off road parking for two cars. Prices start from £570 per week. Visit Coast and Country to look or book. Property reference 1102739.
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