April 2004 www.classic.co.uk
classic news | South Devon In this Newsletter we focus on South Devon with some reflections from Marketing Manager Jakie following her trips through the area gathering photographs for the brochure. Having been inspired by a visit to a Farm Shop recently, we also look at various ways of provisioning for your break with good, local produce.
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For the last couple of years, part of our brochure production schedule has included a ‘road trip’ across our territory. In the course of these trips, Jakie – who is responsible for the production of the brochure – was particularly taken with South Devon. So, we thought it would be a good opportunity for Jakie to share some of her observations about the area.
A South Devon ‘road trip’ I have lived in west Cornwall all my life so most of my journeys east involve skirting south east Devon on the way to Gatwick airport! However our brochure ‘road trips’ of the West Country have been a real eye-opener for me. Last year we started in Dorset and then crossed the border into the south east corner of Devon. It is a real English idyll with glorious rolling countryside, patchwork fields mapped out for miles, narrow winding country lanes with their hedgerows bulging with colour and charming untouched villages and hamlets. It has all the attractions of its better known neighbour South Hams, but it is that bit quieter for those who really want to get away from it all. However, the charms of the area are not confined to the countryside. On our trip we dropped into Beer via the town of Seaton (which has its own electric tramway running for three miles through the Axe Valley to the town of Colyton). Beer is a bustling village with a main street of little galleries, workshops, antique shops and interesting small cafés. The cove itself made me feel as if I had stepped back in time – with stripy deckchairs evenly laid out across the expanse of the beach, colourful wooden changing huts and traditional wooden fishing boats, sailing boats and rowing boats. On our visit the boats were being painstakingly repaired, sanded and re-painted ready for the busy season classic news | South Devon page 2
awaiting them. There were a couple of small beach cafés (of the wooden hut variety). The cove was once reliant on fishing and quarrying but also famous for smuggling. Now you can hire a motor boat, take a cruise along the Jurassic Coast, or take a two hour mackerel fishing trip all from the shore. The beach is shingle which looks dramatic against the chalk cliffs rising above and is, ‘so they say’, a real sun-trap. We did not see too much sun – that would be too much to expect on a photoshoot – but we took lots of pictures of the fishermen preparing their boats, chatted to the locals and had an indulgent mug of hot chocolate sitting in a small wooden hut on the beach. For those of an archaeological bent, this coast is called the ‘Jurassic Coast’ and is classified as a World Heritage Site. From Beer we wound our way down a wooded valley on a single-track road, it really felt like we were heading for nowhere. We passed an ancient church, a post office and an old smithy and thatched inn. We finally could go no further and in front of us lay Branscombe Mouth, an extensive shingle beach with breathtaking views along the magnificent coastline. There in the middle of the miles of beach was the flash of yellow of a lone fisherman. We did not have time to stop and find out if he had been successful, so snapped the shot and moved on.
From Branscombe we headed to the fine old Regency town of Sidmouth, dropping in on a donkey sanctuary en route before heading back inland and on to Exeter. Unfortunately the donkeys did not make it in to the brochure – such are the hard decisions faced by an editor! Just a few miles out of Exeter we found ourselves once again deep in the south Devon countryside tractors and all. We made a stop in the village of Kennford at Taverners Farm Shop to check out some fresh local organic produce. I was amazed at the quality and quantity of local produce on sale here from the usual eggs, fruit and vegetables, to organic (and very tasty) cider, to ‘free-range’ meat of every variety. Once again we made good friends here and we talked ourselves into being shown around the ‘Farm’ itself. We met many of its inhabitants including Daisy the calf who looks very sweet, but was quite a handful when it came to putting her back in her house after she had her photo taken. The other side of south Devon we had covered the previous year in glorious weather. We started in Dartmouth, well-known for its annual sailing regatta and as home to the Britannia Royal Naval College. The town piles up the valley as the River Dart opens to the sea and is full of historic buildings. We took an evening stroll along the harbour and watched the bustle on the water
This page from left: Ben at Blackpool Sands. The view over the river from Dartmouth. Page 1: Bantham Beach. Page 4: Top: Ruby and lobster at Quayside Fish in Porthleven (South West Cornwall). Bottom: A fishing boat at Beer.
continue late into the fine summer’s evening. We also dropped into a few of the local galleries, craft shops, and individual clothes shops. Our budget did not allow us to sample The New Angel, the best-known restaurant in town, but there are plenty of other excellent places to eat and we did very well with an excellent tapas at Browns Hotel just up from the waterfront. We were told that one of the ‘must do’ trips from Dartmouth was a round trip including a hop over the river on the ferry to Kingswear, then travel by steam train to Paignton, catch the bus across to Totnes and then a boat trip back down the Dart. The highlight for me was Dartmouth’s ‘town beach’, Blackpool Sands, just three miles away. This privately owned beach had a feeling of tropical paradise – it reminded me of a beach in Hawaii. We had persuaded some friends who live locally to lend us their two sons after school as models. It did not take too much persuading as it was a beautiful sunny afternoon. As we drove into the car park we could see the azure blue sea ahead along with families with the same idea playing on the beach and soaking up the glorious sun. We spent a good couple of hours here taking pictures of Ben and Jack waiting patiently on their surf boards for ‘the big one’ in mill pool conditions. The boys did not get their wave but we did get the front cover picture for the 2003 brochure. From Blackpool Sands, we continued along the coast road to the village of Torcross. The road runs for two miles flanked by Slapton Sands on one side and a freshwater lake on the other. It felt like we were driving through another country and I could not imagine the beach ever being crowded as it is so vast. classic news | South Devon page 3
Next we headed to Kingsbridge and then took the winding country lanes down to Bantham Beach. This beach has got everything, golden sands, dunes and even surf for the more energetic (when the conditions are right). Being June there were very few people around which makes this time of year even more special – with its beautiful blue skies and long summer evenings. Looking across from Bantham Beach we could see Bigbury-on-Sea and Burgh Island (with its famous Art Deco hotel and a 14th Century pub, The Pilchard Inn). Burgh Island gets cut off by the tide but there is a unique ‘sea tractor’ for crossing from the ‘mainland’. From Bantham we turned back on ourselves and headed inland to Aveton Gifford which stands at the head of the Avon estuary. We had been told about a road alongside the estuary which is flooded at high tide. We could not resist testing it, fortunately the tour vehicle was a four wheel drive and we happened to be in the area at low tide (what a coincidence!). At the end of the ‘underwater’ part of the road was a very steep hill and half-way up this hill, we discovered an extraordinary restaurant. Tucked away in the trees it specialises in oysters and it would not have been out of place as a Greek taverna. Unfortunately we did not have time to sample the fare at the Oyster Shack, but we gathered subsequently that it was very good – sadly too late for us. At the other end of the production schedule for the 2004 brochure we found ourselves in south Devon once again. This time it was a brief respite from the press as the brochure was being printed. We managed to escape
from Plymouth on a beautiful sunny September evening to grab a bite to eat. With directions from our printers we found our way to Newton Ferrers which has its twin village of Noss Mayo sitting opposite on the River Yealm (at low tide you can walk across the causeway from one village to the other). The road leading into the village of Newton Ferrers is very narrow, but it is well worth the effort. There are pretty waterside cottages and sailing vessels of every shape and size making it an idyllic scene. Whilst waiting for our supper we sat with our drinks at the water’s edge listening to the locals and visiting yachtsmen discussing their events of the day. What was so surprising was that we had only taken fifteen minutes to get here from an Industrial Estate just outside Plymouth. All in all South Devon certainly has something for everyone young and old alike – beautiful rolling countryside, plenty of towns and villages each with their individual history and immense character (even two cities within its borders), dramatic coastal walks, long stretches of golden sands, vast stretches of shingle beaches and picturesque estuaries dotted all along the coastline. There are also plenty of attractions and activities to help keep you occupied during your stay (see overleaf for a summary). I may well cancel my annual trip to Gatwick this year and instead stop off en route to experience even more of what South Devon has to offer. Why not try it too?
Quayside Fish www.quaysidefish.co.uk Tel: 01326 562 008 Based in the fishing village of Porthleven in west Cornwall, Quayside Fish send their produce by mail order throughout the country. West Cornwall Hampers www.westcornwallhampers.co.uk Tel: 01736 763 623 They will deliver to your cottage to see you through the first day or, for a special treat during the week. Heal Farm www.healfarm.co.uk Tel: 01769 574 341 Heal Farm specialises in on-line meat and country food, so even if you are at home, you can still get a taste of the West Country.
Lobbs Farm Shop www.lobbsfarmshop.com Tel: 01726 844 411 Lobbs Farm Shop is situated next to Heligan Gardens and is stocked with locally produced beef, lamb and vegetables – drop in during your trip to Heligan. West Country Produce www.westcountryproduce.co.uk Tel: 01404 823 356 Specialising in on-line ordering of locally produced foods from the West Country including organic and gluten-free selections. Where possible none of their foods contain artificial additives, colourings or preservatives.
A Taste of the West Country There are a variety of ways of buying good, local West Country produce whilst on holiday, or even while at home. We hope the following mini guide helps you to track down some of the best in the west.
Places of Interest
Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway Queen’s Park Station, Torbay Road, Paignton, TQ4 6AF Tel: 01803 555 872 www.paignton-steamrailway. co.uk
Totnes Castle Castle Street, Totnes, TQ9 5NU Tel: 01803 864 406 www.english-heritage.org.uk
Crealy Adventure Park Sidmouth Road, Clyst St Mary, Exeter, EX5 1DR Tel: 01395 233 200 www.crealy.co.uk
Coleton Fishacre House and Garden Brownstone Road, Kingswear, Dartmouth, TQ6 0EQ Tel: 01803 752 466 www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Ashcombe Adventure Centre Ashcombe, Dawlish, EX7 0QD Tel: 01626 866 766 www.ashcombeadventure.co.uk
South West Tourism A variety of useful information from the region’s tourist board – particularly good for local events. Tel: 0870 4420 880 www.visitsouthwest.co.uk
Seaton Tramway Harbour Road, Seaton EX12 2NQ Tel: 01297 20375 www.tram.co.uk Britannia Royal Naval College Museum and Tours Dartmouth, TQ6 0HJ Tel: 01803 677 787 www.brnc.co.uk
Killerton Broadclyst, Exeter, EX5 3LE Tel: 01392 881 345 www.nationaltrust.org.uk Compton Castle Marldon, Paignton, TQ3 1TA Tel: 01803 842 382 www.nationaltrust.org.uk Saltram Plympton, Plymouth, PL7 1UH Tel: 01752 333 500 www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Taverners Farm Shop Lower Brenton, Kennford, Exeter, EX6 7YL Tel: 01392 833 776 www.tavernersfarm.co.uk
Oyster Shack Milburn Orchard Farm, Stakes Hill, Bigbury, TQ7 4BE Tel: 01548 810 876 www.oystershack.co.uk Browns Hotel Victoria Road, Dartmouth TQ6 9RT Tel: 01803 832 572 www.brownshoteldartmouth. co.uk The New Angel 2 South Embankment, Dartmouth, TQ6 9BH Tel: 01803 839 425 www.thenewangel.co.uk
Woodlands Leisure Park Blackawton, Totnes, TQ9 7DQ Tel: 01803 712 598 www.woodlands-leisure-park. co.uk Pennywell Farm and Wildlife Centre Buckfastleigh, TQ11 0LT Tel: 01364 642 023 www.pennywellfarmcentre.co.uk Paignton Zoo Environmental Park Totnes Road, Paignton TQ4 7EU Tel: 01803 697 500 www.paigntonzoo.org.uk Living Coasts Beacon Quay, Torquay TQ1 2BG Tel: 01803 202 470 www.livingcoasts.org.uk National Marine Aquarium Rope Walk, Coxside, Plymouth PL4 0LF Tel: 01752 600 301 www.national-aquarium.co.uk The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth, EX10 0NU Tel: 01395 578 222 www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk
Bicton Park Botanical Gardens East Budleigh, Budleigh Salterton, EX9 7BJ Tel: 01395 568 465 www.bictongardens.co.uk Greenway Greenway Road, Galmpton, Brixham, TQ5 0ES Tel: 01803 842 382 www.nationaltrust.org.uk Overbecks Museum and Garden Sharpitor, Salcombe, TQ8 8LW Tel: 01548 842 893 www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Torbay Quad Centre Moles Lane, Torquay, TQ3 1SY Tel: 01803 615 660 www.torbayquadcentre.co.uk Cycle Hire Saddles and Paddles 4 Kings Wharf, The Quay, Exeter, EX2 4AN Tel: 01392 424 241 www.saddlepaddle.co.uk Boating/Cruises Dart Pleasure Craft 5 Lower Street, Dartmouth TQ6 9AJ Tel: 01803 834 488 www.riverlink.co.uk
classic cottages The specialists for coastal and country cottages of distinction throughout the West Country Leslie House, Lady Street, Helston, Cornwall TR13 8NA Telephone 01326 555 555 Facsimile 01326 555 544 Email firstname.lastname@example.org www.classic.co.uk www.classicguide.co.uk
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