Loved the area for countryside, walking, dog-friendly.
John & Margaret, September 2012
The South Hams area of South Devon is somewhere special - one of the most beautiful and unspoilt parts of Britain providing an exclusive and special holiday location. Dittiscombe Holiday Cottages is an ideal base from which discover its secrets.
With its gentle year-round climate and pretty estuaries, dramatic coastline, beautiful beaches, historic villages and great food and drink producers, this area has so much to offer visitors. Here is just a small selection of places to visit and things to do which we hope will appeal to all types of visitor, whether here for a dog-friendly holiday, a summer vacation, a romantic break, or a spring, autumn or winter short break.
To explore what’s on the doorstep our guests can enjoy a car free day at Dittiscombe and walk from their cottage to Slapton Village (1½ miles) and a further ½ mile to Slapton Sands beach. At this point walkers can join the South West Coast Path and enjoy the spectacular coastline of Start Bay (see picture left) which stretches from Blackpool Sands to Start Point Lighthouse. Small villages invite you to stop off along the way. For instance at Torcross pick up a cream tea at Sea Breeze Café or a plate of the finest fish and chips at the Start Bay Inn; enjoy a pint of local ale at The Cricket Inn at Beesands; take a guided tour of Start Point Lighthouse; or drop down to the visitor information plaque at Hallsands. Please click here for more details.
There are walks for everyone and on the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Visit South Devon websites you can download details of walks and trails, and use the maps, guides and leaflets provided in the cottages.
For a walk on the wild side Dartmoor National Park is about 50 minutes drive from Dittiscombe and with its open spaces for hiking, cycling and horse-riding activities, this is another wonderful area for the outdoor enthusiast to visit.
Scroll down the page for more walking ideas which include cafes, pubs and toilets, and for those with small children or limited mobility, or alternatively click on to our Children Welcome page for child-friendly routes.
Rolling hills and steep cliffs are not for everyone, but there really are some easier walks which are accessible to families with small children and people with disabilities. These are just a few ideas, but we suggest you contact the local tourist information centres who will be able to give you more detailed information.
Beesands (see picture left) has a car park, seating overlooking the beach, a flat walk by the freshwater lake, and an excellent pub/restaurant serving local fish at The Cricket Inn.
Start Point Lighthouse: From the car park there is a straight metalled road with a slight decline to the lighthouse and fantastic views of Start Bay.
Bantham beach for sandcastle making, surfing, bodyboarding, and dog walking: From the car park the beach is accessed over a sandy path to a flat, wide beach at low tide and far reaching views of Bigbury and Burgh Island. There is a dog ban on the beach from May to October but during this time there is access to one the side of the beach opposite Burgh Island and up the Avon estuary. There are toilets and dog bins here, and The S loop pub for fresh fish and shellfish menus.
Bolberry Down is situated on the coast and has a short tarmac path leading from the large car park to breathtaking views of the coast. Walk length is approx 1 mile and further details can be found on the National Trust website www.nationaltrust.org.uk and search for Bolberry Down. There is also the dog-friendly Port Light Hotel serving coffee, lunch and dinner.
In Totnes there is an attractive path which runs from Totnes Railway Station to Shinner's Bridge at Dartington and is suitable for all. Totnes Station path runs alongside the River Dart with interesting wildlife habitats and at Shinner's Bridge you will find Dartington College of Arts and the Cider Press Crafts Centre with a cafe and toilets.
Bigbury on Sea situated opposite the famous Burgh Island Hotel. There is a car park and excellent beach cafe run by the multi-award winning Venus Cafe. There is a good-sized beach and flat walks over to Burgh Island and along the estuary at low tide.
Slapton Village saw plenty of action in the Second World War with D-day landing practices around Start Bay, and an old Sherman tank stands as a memorial to those who lost their lives at Torcross. The 70th anniversary of the tragedy of Exercise Tiger will be commemorated on 27th and 28th April at Slapton Sands and Torcross. More information about the event can be found here.
Torcross village boasts an excellent pub specialising in fish and chips, and two cafes serving food and drink all day, year round.
The Slapton Ley Field Study Centre is based here too and they are the custodians of the freshwater lake which is protected from the sea by a shingle bar which divides it from the sea. This is a great bird-watching area, and the Field Study Centre offer coastal walks, bat and badger days, guided tours and nature safaris in and around the area. More information about the local area, walks and a time line can be found on the Slapton Line website.
The thriving and bustling market towns of Kingsbridge and Totnes are well worth a visit, and the coastal and estuary towns of Dartmouth (see picture above) and Salcombe with their colourful shops and gentle waterways make for a relaxing day by the water.
South Hams boasts many of the finest and most unspoilt beaches in the country. For families there is great choice: sheltered coves and fine sand at Mill Bay (see picture right) and Hope Cove, or the sweeping, safe beach with the award-winning Venus Cafe at Blackpool Sands; rock-pooling at Thurlestone; surfing on the magnificent beach at Bantham; and for visitors with dogs there are many beaches to explore all year round at Slapton, Torcross and Beesands, East Prawle, Rickham Sands and many more.
An exciting new addition to the National Trust portfolio is Agatha Christie’s house and garden at Greenway on the River Dart. As parking is limited visitors are encouraged to take the ‘green way’ to the house by using the ferry service which runs either from Dittisham on the banks of the river or from Totnes using the Greenway Ferry Service. Other historic houses such as Colyton Fishacre, Saltram House & Gardens and Overbecks are within an hour’s drive.
Woodlands Leisure Park near Dartmouth offers an exciting range of rides, and plenty of indoor play areas too. Paignton Zoo, Dartmoor Zoological Park, Living Coasts, Pennywell Farm, and the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth are just some of a number of wildlife centres in this area. There is indoor swimming at the Kingsbridge Quayside Leisure Centre and at the Dartmouth Golf & Country Club (we provide temporary membership for our guests with a 25% discount off health and beauty facilities). The Reel Cinema is our local cinema in Fore Street, Kingsbridge. The Eden Project is about 1- 2 hours drive from Dittiscombe, and is well worth a visit
The local heritage centre at the Cookworthy Museum displays the history of rural life in and around Kingsbridge, and three castles at Totnes, Dartmouth and Berry Pomeroy are all run by English Heritage. Several cultural trails have been produced and these can be found on the South Devon website. Cruise from Dartmouth to Slapton Sands on the Fairmile, a WW2 Heritage Ship, and submerse yourself in two hours of beautiful scenery, a full commentary on the history and tragedy of the D-Day training exercises in the area, and a cream team.
The thriving market towns of Kingsbridge and Totnes and the estuary towns of Salcombe and Dartmouth all have a good variety of small, specialist shops, galleries, food, gift and clothing shops. The Dartington Cider Press Centre is a unique visitor centre with 15 shops, cafes, galleries and wide variety of arts and crafts including the famous Dartington Glass.
Riverford near Totnes, is well known for its organic food and vegetables and the owner Guy Watson, a local farming champion, has just won the BBC's Farmer of the Year Award 2012. At Riverford visitors can shop for local produce, or wander around the farm on a self-guided tour and whilst there book a meal at the award winning Field Kitchen restaurant on the farm to taste the produce.
There are a number of different travel opportunities in the area:
the South Devon Railway starts in Totnes and finishes in Buckfastleigh with a Heritage Bus Service or a trip to the Otter & Butterfly Sanctuary – a great day out for young and old alike. The Round Robin bus, boat and steam train runs through enchanting landscape and includes Paignton, Kingswear, Dartmouth and Totnes en-route. River Link cruise boats based in Dartmouth offer coastal and wildlife cruises, and a daily service to Totnes and Greenway Gardens. Boat hire, boat trips, fishing and sailing lessons are available in Kingsbridge, Dartmouth and Salcombe. Park and ride schemes for Salcombe, Dartmouth and Exeter operate during the main season. And a local bus route from Slapton goes to Dartmouth, Kingsbridge and Plymouth - further information about the bus timetables can be found on www.devon.gov.uk/devonbus.
Non-vehicular transport such as canoeing, cycling, horse-riding, sailing and surfing are all possible and further information can be obtained from the local tourist information centres.
Self Catering Cottages with Country Cottages Online
Owners Direct apartment rentals
Holiday cottages to rent in Devon: we're listed on Justcottages.co.uk.
A UK Green Holiday website featuring Green Tourism Award accommodation: Ecoholidayshop.co.uk.