Salcombe is the biggest town in the South Hams district of Devon and close to the awe-inspiring Kingsbridge Estuary ‐ the town was built on the steeped part of the South Devon Area of Outstanding National Beauty, allowing for an amazing view of the ocean.
The sheltered harbour has played an important role throughout Salcombe’s history, from boat- and shipbuilding to the fishing industry. However, nowadays, the town’s waterfront is home to an eclectic mixture of cafés, restaurants and bars and the gateway to the sailing and yacht harbour that draws most visitors here.
Today it’s mostly smooth sailing, but in the olden days, may ships sunk near Salcombe, including a whole vessel filled with gold coins from Morocco and the HMS Untiring, a submarine from the second world war. In spite of this ‐ or maybe because many hope to find a treasure down there ‐ Salcombe is very popular with divers. In the 19th century, the harbour was a major player in the fruit industry, but deliveries of expensive building products such as ebony and mahogany, as well as plenty of rum, made the harbour a popular target for piracy and smuggling, although plenty of profit was made by the upper class who built dozens of gorgeous mansions in the area.
Culture & attractions in Salcombe
Aside from sailing and water sports, Salcombe features a number of beautiful sandy beaches, such as Sunny Cove, the large Mill Bay, Cable Cove and many more. From Fisherman’s Cove, there are ferries that take you across the estuary, one of the most picturesque ways to arrive in Salcombe. More beaches can be reached by other ferry services, and an unusual Sea Tractor plies the way between the Bar and South Sands beach.
Many people here own their own boats and come to Salcombe each weekend, but if you haven’t climbed that far up the social ladder yet, sailing schools can help you make your first steps mastering the art of sailing. If you prefer a little more action, the beaches are not only great playground for children, but offer many water sports for adults, too.
Nevertheless, it’s a joy to watch the annual Salcombe Yacht and Town Regattas which attract attract hundreds of participants each year.
Must-do highlights in Salcombe
If you’re not sailing yourself, you can enjoy at boat trips up the river or go wreck diving for some gold in the 17th century Cannon Wreck!
Even if you plan to completely veg out and spend all your time sitting in a café or your holiday cottage in Salcombe, don’t miss a visit to Overbecks. The Edwardian mansion is perched high on the cliffs above Salcombe and is set in midst of exotic gardens and lush woodland, from which you can enjoy a stellar panorama over the coast and estuary. The house was the seaside home the eccentric scientist Otto Overbeck, and you can see many of his inventions at the Overbecks’ Museum. His ideas ranged from a giant Victorian music box to the mystical ‘rejuvenator’, and he amassed a fascinating collection of natural and maritime treasures.
Agatha Christie fans shouldn’t miss here home in nearby Greenway. The 1950s house contains the families large collection of archaeological items, china ware and books and wild, romantic gardens with rare plants and a hillside view of the Dart Estuary.
Eating & drinking in Salcombe
Salcombe is home to an extraordinary amount of high class restaurants and cafés, but although many of them offer high class food, most places are surprisingly small and cozy.
On a rainy day, you could spend hours at the Victoria Inn ‐ and on a sunny one, enjoy the sunshine in the beer garden. The pub has a large selection of beers and ciders.
The Salcombe Coffee Co is much more than just a coffee shop. From breakfast to dinner, there’s always excellent food and to be had.
Accommodation in Salcombe
Salcombe’s charms can be enjoyed best when staying in your own four walls, although the many great restaurants probably mean you’ll never use the kitchen of your holiday apartment.
The tranquil South Hams area just outside Salcombe is an excellent base for exploring the town and beaches. 1 Salcombe Retreat is a three bedroom lodge in the South Hams with wonderful ocean and harbour views and a views over the countryside from the deck.
The nearby 7 Salcombe Retreat is just a short walking distance from the coastal path and Soar Mill Cove Beach and sleeps up to five guests.
So that’s our round up of things to do on a weekend in Salcombe. Have you ever been there? What would you recommend doing if someone went there for the weekend? Please share you experience with us…