Even if you only have a weekend or a couple of days to spend in South Devon, you can still experience plenty of its attractions, scenery and dining without wearing yourself out!
Start in Totnes with a cup of wood-roasted artisan coffee and a pastry from the Curator Café on the Plains to fuel the day ahead. After a wander around the eclectic mix of shops – 8 out of 10 of which are independent – board the UK’s only coal-fired paddle steamer, named the Kingswear Castle, from Steamer Quay.
A relaxing one and a half hour scenic cruise winds its way along the River Dart to reach Dartmouth, where you can disembark to explore the picturesque centre and waterfront. If you’re hungry, celebrity chef Mitch Tonks’ Rockfish is on hand with award-winning fish and chips to eat in or enjoy dangling your feet over the water.
You can either return via the historic paddlesteamer, or there are other regular riverboats or bus options. Back in Totnes, if you’re feeling energetic, cycle or walk along the Dart Valley Trail to Sharpham Vineyard & Cheese Dairy (a pleasant 35 mins by bike or 55-75 on foot) or drive the three miles by car.
The working estate produces world-class wines and cheeses which can be sampled in the shop or during a tour booked in advance. The alfresco Vineyard Café also does a great job of showcasing the produce. Round off your day with a sunset visit to spooky Berry Pomeroy Castle or a pint and bite to eat at the Royal Seven Stars Hotel.
A relaxing one and a half hour scenic cruise winds its way along the River Dart to reach Dartmouth, where you can disembark to explore the picturesque centre and waterfront
It wouldn’t be right to come to South Devon without exploring some of its 60 miles of glorious coastline. This day would be easiest with a car but is also possible using public transport. Beginning in Teignmouth, grab a hearty breakfast at Oystercatchers Café before strolling out to the magnificent Victorian Grand Pier to enjoy views across the bay.
Over the bridge is the unspoilt village and foodie hotspot of Shaldon, where you can see endangered species of monkey and all kinds of creatures at Shaldon Zoo, including owls, tortoises, margays and meerkats. The A379 stretch of coastal road affords truly stunning views which can be admired from the Labrador Bay Nature Reserve – whose carpark is a perfect picnic spot.
From here there is the option of a shopping visit to the pretty St Marychurch or even a ride on the funicular Babbacombe Cliff Railway.
Dipping down into Torquay and Paignton you could indulge in some retail therapy or go for the proper bucket and spade seaside resort experience. Four miles down the road, wind down in the bustling fishing port of Brixham with a pint of local ale and fresh seafood at The Sprat and Mackerel or the dog-friendly Breakwater Bistro, famed for its chocolate fondue.
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