Can I have a peek in?

First time I went to Cornwall, I remember thinking this is what heaven must look like: rugged coastlines rambling for miles allowing for easy, glorious walks along the azure blue sea and the abandoned tin mines dotting the country side adding a touch of melancholy to the wild beauty of the Cornish moors. And I always thought of Devon as a way station to get to Cornwall so when my friends Kitty and Poppy organised a trip to Devon, I wasn’t too excited, to say the least! My friend Kitty who is an avid traveller convinced me to come and I am thrilled that  I said yes!

We took the train from London Paddington to Totnes,  the nearest railway station from our destination Salcombe. The train journey is barely two and half hours and it went by in a flash as we chatted and gossiped.

After settling into a cottage in Marlborough, a lovely village with a medieval church and a tiny post office which also doubles as the local community hub for the villagers to get the gossip on the neighbouring families and the local sheep, we drove to our first walk. The weather was bit iffy but since we were here for only a couple of days, we decided to venture out to our first hike starting from Soar Mill Cove to Bolt Head, which helpfully starts from the parking lot of the Soar Mill Cove hotel. It’s a newly renovated spa & hotel, painted in a calming duck-egg blue colour and has splendid views of the Atlantic ocean.

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Secret beach near the Soar Mill Cove Hotel

The walk to Bolt Head tumbles along the coast for couple of miles and is fairly easy. We walked at a leisurely pace, enjoying the beautiful ocean views and the scenery. Given that it was early in the season and bit cloudy, we came across only one other hiker with two energetic dogs, a couple of shaggy highland cows (who I think look like dogs but Poppy and Kitty disagree with me on this) who blocked our way and scaredy sheep who for some mysterious reason ran away as we passed by (Any ideas, Kitty?) It’s a lovely walk and I highly recommend it if you visit South Devon.

Next morning after a hearty breakfast (three times the size of my normal breakfast!), we drove into Salcombe to catch the ferry to East Portlemouth to get to our next walk to the Rickham Sands beach. The ferry literally runs every few minutes and journey time is exactly three minutes! (In the interest of full disclosure, the ferry is a canoe with an engine and costs less than two pounds each way). This is another fantastic walk: At the start of the walk, we had lovely views of Salcombe and the surrounding villages across the estuary and we stopped every few minutes to admire the views and take pictures. As we walked, scenery turned more rugged and we had sweeping views of the azure blue sea, craggy coastline and sandy beaches. We happily walked for couple of hours until we reached the Rickham Sands beach. There were handful of people on the beach enjoying an unexpected sunny day but otherwise it was relatively empty. While I was I happily snoozing on the beach next to a burbling stream flowing into the ocean, the water suddenly changed direction and almost swept me away into the ocean (yes, it’s true but perhaps I was not exactly swept away). I still think it was the over-active toddler who kicked the sand bank to make the stream change its path to get a laugh at my expense. My friend Kitty thinks that I am making the whole thing up!

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Rickham Sands Beach

After a pit stop at the Gara Rock restaurant overlooking the Rickham Sands beach, we headed back to catch our tiny ferry back to Salcombe. We wandered around the pretty town, had the famous Salcombe dairy ice cream and I bought a bottle of small-batch craft Salcombe gin. I can see why Salcombe is called the Chelsea of Devon as it attracts a trendy crowd and has heaps of options for good food and shopping.

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Salcombe and surrounding villages

Our friend Poppy had the questionably brilliant idea of a barbecue at the beach while watching the sun go down. We bought some supplies and headed to Thurlestone Sands beach. There was only one other group who had the same crazy idea as us. As the sun went down, it became freezing cold very quickly and our friend Kitty started shivering  and Poppy very helpfully offered her a barbecued pepper to warm her up! Has anyone every heard of this?!

Next day we walked through the beautiful grassy meadows overlooking the Hope cove. We had the Atlantic ocean on one side and green, gold and rust fields on the other side. After couple of hours of walking and trying to take pictures of sheep, we drove to Dittisham to take the ferry to Greenway House, the residence of the famous novelist Agatha Christie. The house is now owned by the National Trust, the organisation which restores and preserves the old, stately homes for the posterity. Once we reached  Dittisham, we had to ring a large brass bell two times to call the ferry to fetch us and take us across the river to the house. How cute is that? But it wasn’t so cute when the ferry didn’t arrive promptly!

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The house is beautiful but it was the magnificent gardens overlooking the river Dart which completely bowled us over. The Magnolia and camellia trees heaving with flowers and the flowering meadows vied for our attention as we wandered around the estate oohing and aahing over the beautiful vistas and gardens.  The house is  filled with Agatha Christie’s memorabilia, clothes, books and paintings and is beautifully preserved.

We finished the day off with coffee and lovely Devon scones with heaps of clotted cream and strawberry jam, at the estate’s garden café. A perfect ending to a perfect trip.

 

I highly recommend a trip to Devon if you are visiting England. It doesn’t get as much attention as Lake district or Peak district but it really does feel like being at the door steps of heaven, not that I have had the opportunity to visit the real heaven yet!

With love,

Kanwal

2 Replies to “South Devon: At Heaven’s Door”

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