- Babbacombe and St Marychurch
Babbacombe is often referred to as the 'Jewel in the crown of the English Riviera'. It is much more laid back than the bright lights of Torquay. Once a village in its own right it has its own micro economy. The 'must visit' place in Babbacombe is Babbacombe Downs themselves. It boasts the highest promenade in the country bordered on one side by high quality guest accommodation and hostelries and on the other spectacular sea views across the whole of Lyme Bay along the coastline as far as Portland Bill 50 miles away. Directly below are Babbacombe Beach at one end and the blue flag beach of Oddicombe at the other which can be accessed by the 1920's cliff railway if you don’t fancy the walk down (or up). At the other end of the Downs is Babbacombe Theatre which has twice weekly variety shows and headline acts most weekends. Head out of Babbacombe and within minutes you are in St Marychurch with its lovely community feel and the quaint pedestrianised shopping precinct. You are never short of things to do in this area with award winning attractions such as Babbacombe Model Village, Bygones and Kent Cavern. Plainmoor home of Torquay Utd FC is less than 10 mins walk away and is a modern family orientated ground if you have football in your blood. No stay would be complete without a visit to the award winning Hanburys fish and chip shop located just behind us serving the finest Brixham fish and consistently voted one of the best fish and chip restaurants in the country.
Cockington is a small village within Torquay which has remained largely unchanged for over 100 years. At its heart is Cockington Court. Here you will find the award winning country park made up of both woodland and formal gardens. The Manor house dates back to doomsday times. Inside you can learn about the history of Torquay and the rich and famous who once resided here. There is a children’s (or adults) play area and an array of art and craft studios were you can both observe the artists at work and also purchase the fruits of their labours.
A traditional 'bucket and spade' seaside town with long straight sandy beaches bordered by beach huts and the wide open spaces of Paignton Green, which hosts the summer fair and carnival and the BMAD motorcycle weekends which raise vast sums for charity. All the traditional seaside shops, cafés, restaurants and arcades can be found on or just off the seafront with play parks, crazy golf and donkey rides all available. At the far end of the town is the picturesque harbour area, and Paignton pier with its amusements and activities which can be found in the middle of the prom.
If you head over this way a visit to the world renowned Paignton Zoo is a must.
Brixham is the Southern most town on the Riviera and is still one of the major working fishing ports of Britain. Brixham surrounds the harbour and is very traditional. Part of Brixham is made up of the fishing dock and the new state of the art fish market which trades every week day. The rest of the harbour area is made up of shops, restaurants and accommodation providers of all types, from chip shops and hostels to fine dining and swanky hotels. The fish restaurants get the freshest produce and you cannot miss the Golden Hind tied up in the harbour
The hub of the English Riviera this is a bustling harbour side town centre. Traditional shops and cafés rub shoulders with designer shops and fine dining. The picturesque harbour side offers the chance to sit at one of the many restaurants and cafés and soak up the atmosphere whilst the promenade, Rock Walk and Torre Abbey Meadows offer those who want to be a bit more active the chance to stretch their legs and explore on foot or you could always spot your dream boat moored up in the marina from the prom or pier. If its shopping you want then there is almost a mile of shops stretching from Fleet Walk on the harbour side all the way from Union Street and up into Torre.
Take this extraordinary glimpse into the beloved holiday home of the famous and much-loved author Agatha Christie and her family. This relaxed and atmospheric house is set in the 1950s, when Agatha and her family would spend summers and Christmases here with friends, relaxing by the river, playing croquet and clock golf, and reading her latest mystery to their guests. The family were great collectors, and the house is filled with archaeology, Tunbridgeware, silver, botanical china and books.
In the garden don’t miss the large and romantic woodland which drifts down the hillside towards the sparkling Dart estuary. The walled gardens are home to the restored peach house and vinery, as well as an allotment cared for by local school children. A visit to Greenway isn't complete without seeing the Boathouse, scene of the crime in Dead Man’s Folly, and the battery complete with cannon.
There are many different ways to get there, including ferry, vintage bus and steam train. If you'd like to arrive by car you must pre-book your parking space online or by telephone (01803 842382). Timed tickets to the house will be issued at visitor reception on Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer, and at busy times, to ease congestion in the house.
Dartmouth is 15 miles away and steeped in history. It is home of the Royal Naval Officer training college and still holds on to its sea fairing tradition. It is located just inside the Dart estuary on the banks of the River Dart in a steep sided valley. The main town lines the banks and is made up of an eclectic mix of buildings which are steeped in history, some dating back to Tudor times. There is an abundance of designer shops and restaurants boasting some of Devon finest cuisine. Much of the waterfront is made up of boatyards and marinas but on a very small scale which only enhances the picturesque setting of Dartmouth. If you want to experience a quintessentially English and historic seafaring town, Dartmouth is a must. Dartmouth is best visited by boat from Torquay or steam train from Paignton. You can also catch the paddle steamer up river if you want to explore more of the River Dart all the way to Totnes.
Shaldon is a small village about 5 miles north of Babbacombe and sits alongside the Teign estuary. It is a quaint village which boasts many fine hostelries and its own zoological gardens there is a small but enchanting beach front from where you can watch gig racing and surfing. You can take the passenger ferry from Shaldon across the estuary to the more commercial and vibrant Teignmouth where you can find all the usual seaside amenities along with the play park, skate park, crazy golf and amusements pier. Shaldon also hosts one of the best bonfire night extravaganzas we’ve been to. From the parade of the Guys, bonfire lighting ceremony on the estuary beach to the main fire works display all set in a natural amphitheatre where you're surrounded by all the other displays taking place in Shaldon and Teignmouth. Just make sure you get there early as it will be packed with Guy Fawkes groupies.
Dartmoor Widdecombe, Haytor, Dartmeet, Princetown
From the rolling green hills and high hedgerows in the East to the hostile yet spectacular scenery in the West, Dartmoor is a truly remarkable place. The moors that everyone recognizes on Hound of the Baskervilles can be found on the western part of the moor and here you can find Princetown home of the famous Dartmoor prison and the ancient stones of Haytor. Here you will also find the wild ponies of Dartmoor and all manor of wildlife and flora. Whether you're hardcore hiking or just out for a stroll, educational exploring or just taking in the breathtaking scenery Dartmoor will not let you down. Further East the moorland gives way to green fields with traditional villages dotted here and there. Local pubs, shops and workshops abound in villages and market towns like Widdecombe In the Moor, Moretonhamstead and Chagford. Or you can paddle in the crystal waters running off the moor at Dartmeet, a favourite for locals to blow out the cobwebs on a weekend.
To the South of the English Riviera and Torbay is the South Hams. This is rural Devon and has the typical narrow roads and high hedges usually associated with the County. There is a myriad of small towns and villages spread throughout the South Hams - all worth a visit. Salcombe is the yachting capital of the South West and very exclusive. Bantham, Thurlstone and Bigbury with their endless expanses of sandy surfing beaches. Torcross and Slapton where the US Army trained for DDay and the worst training disaster in US Army history occurred. Totnes where the hippy movement is still alive and kicking with a town packed with arts crafts and alternative businesses. The South Hams is well worth a day or 2 of your stay if you like to see how diverse yet essentially the same Devon can be.