Are you wondering what Salcombe is like in the winter? There are numerous activities to enjoy in Salcombe over the winter months. Here are our favourite suggestions:
The Salcombe Shooting School has set up brilliant air-rifle premises in the countryside of Salcombe. Get picked up by a Landrover and learn about how to perfect your aim. It is seriously competitive, perfect for mixed groups (as there is no recoil from the gun) and a great activity for a group.
Visit the beaches on ‘the other side’
Part of the lure of Salcombe is the access to soft yellow sandy beaches on the other side of the estuary. The quickest route to the beach is via the ferry. To get to the ferry go through the Whitestrand car park in the centre of town leading to the ferry terminal.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be accompanied by Frodo, the black spaniel who belongs to Tricky (an RNLI volunteer) to the other side of the water (better known as East Portlemouth). You can turn left or right onto the beaches. The further you go either way, the quieter the beaches tend to get. Be careful when the tide comes in to avoid getting wet on the walk back to the ferry. There is a road running parallel to the beach in case you do get caught.
If you turn right off the ferry, you can walk along five beaches, each with their own character: Fisherman’s Cove, Small’s Cove, Cable Cove, Mill Bay and Sunny Cove. At low tide, the beaches are perfect for playing sports such as cricket.
Make sure you don’t miss out on a trip to the Salcombe Dairy ice-cream shop – stick to the Devonshire cream for a classic taste and try something a bit different such as stem ginger, for something a little spicier. If your sweet tooth still isn’t satisfied, head next door to Cranch’s Sweet Shop for a retro sweet experience – think traditional sweets in glass jars, the kids among you will love it.
Shopping and eating
Along Fore Street (the high street which runs parallel to the water) is where most of the shops can be found. Carry on to the Fortescue Inn and you will find the top spots for crabbing (see the section on crabbing!) And further on is Victoria Quay – a line of chocolate box houses leading on to Island Street which is the artisan area of Salcombe.
Food & drink
Although there are some supermarkets in Salcombe, we encourage you to use the local independent shops:
- Cranches Pantry (for fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers etc)
- Coleman’s Butchers (for excellent local meat and cheese. They also sell ice)
- Upper Crust Bakery (try their daily baked croissants – mmm!)
- The Salcombe Yawl (for delicious sandwiches and deli products)
- Bowers Wine and Spirits (off-licence)
- Boots (in case you’ve forgotten anything important)
Salcombe town centre itself is rather small and quaint, but you’ll find the high-street is lined with upmarket nautical retailers such as Crew, Henri Lloyd, Musto, Quba, Fat Face and Jack Wills.
Did you know that Salcombe is the original starting place for some big brands such as Jack Wills, Crew Clothing and Quba Sails?
Art & photography excursion
Salcombe is home to an increasingly vibrant arts scene with an interesting choice of galleries and studios and an impressive flow of artists to the area. Two places particularly worth visiting are Gallery 5, an informal, waterside gallery featuring West Country-based artists, and Bangwallop, an innovative studio displaying work by local and international photographers. Both are located on Island Street.
Do bring your camera to Salcombe – there is plenty to snap away at.
A contentious topic of conversation in Salcombe – who serves the best cream tea? The South Sands Hotel delivers on style and has a fantastic fruity jam. The Tides Reach Hotel serves a thirst-quenching cuppa, a huge homemade scone and lashings of clotted cream. The Gara Rock Restaurant cream tea tastes simply sublime- but is that because you have walked an hour and earnt it?!
A cream tea is a must wherever you decide to enjoy it. Remember you’re in Devon – The Devonshire method is to split the scone in two, cover each half with clotted cream, and then add strawberry jam on top. Those Cornish folk put the strawberry jam on first – totally wrong!
Sand, sea and surf
From sailing boats and power dinghies to unforgettable adventure kayaking tours, there are lots of ways to mess about on the water. If you fancy getting your feet wet, there are numerous opportunities suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities. Please do contact us for lots of suggestions which we are happy to help arrange for you.
If you are keen to get onto the water, bring your own wetsuit, gloves and booties if you have them. If not, most companies will be able to rent them to you.
If you’re not a water baby then there is plenty to do and see on dry land, whether that’s relaxing with a coffee in a local café or pub, or taking a walk along the coastal footpath. Or why not enjoy the amazing panoramic views at Overbecks, a fascinating Edwardian house, once home to an eccentric inventor and now a National Trust museum with stunning terrace gardens packed with exotic plants.
To reach Overbecks you can either walk to it up a fairly gruelling hill above South Sands, jump into a taxi, or drive there yourself.
There are two locations for taking some time out. The first is the excellent new Salcombe Harbour Hotel spa, which has fabulous facilities and lots of treatments available.
If you prefer to have a massage in your property your concierge can arrange for this.
Your kit for crabbing should include and crabbing line, net, bucket and bait. These are available from many outlets in town. Key for success is the location – we recommend going next to the steps in front of the RNLI HQ near to the Fortescue Inn. If you prefer more safety with a wall, then carry along to Victoria Quay.
Skill is obviously part of the deal (carefully pulling up the line trying not to bash crabs against the wall so they drop off the line) but the bait is important too! Bacon is an easy option. But we have a sneaky tip to beat the others – pop into the Butchers and ask for some scraps! Or the crème de la crème of bait is a smelly mackerel head. To source one of these is tough, but if you catch one of the fishing trip boats coming into the key you might just hit the jackpot.
Eat Salcombe crab and lobster
Visit Yeowards on Island Street and take a peek into their tanks to see some of the biggest lobster and crabs Salcombe has to offer. You can buy a live or cooked lobster/crab to take home to eat.
If you prefer not to get your hands dirty, The Salcombe Yawl in the centre of town sells freshly handpicked Salcombe crab meat available on its own or in a delicious homemade sandwich. We promise you will not taste better crab than this.
Alternatively, we can arrange for a chef to prepare a seafood evening meal in your holiday home.
Visit the Winking Prawn
Going to the Winking Prawn from Fore Decks is a great experience which includes a beautiful coastal walk on the road taking approximately 20 minutes. You are rewarded with a beach at North Sands plus the magical world of the Winking Prawn (a Salcombe institution in its own right!).
It is a shack-like Sixties-style restaurant with a delicious atmosphere and buzzy food. We enjoy the popcorn shrimp and steak with pepper sauce, which sets you up nicely for the trek back to town.
Walk along Fore Street keeping the water on your left. Where the road forks, take the left-hand road. Follow the road until you reach the Winking Prawn where you can enjoy food all day long. Particularly good is the fruit de mer.
Go for a Coastal Walk
Firstly stock up your pockets at the traditional Cranch’s Sweetshop for some bonbons or locally made clotted cream fudge. The old-fashioned, family-owned business dates back to the days of Queen Victoria and the shop is lined with shelf upon shelf of boiled sweets and mouth-watering chocolates and toffees.
To Gara Rock: beaches, dramatic coast, sea views
One of our favourite coastal walks takes you to Gara Rock (where there is a great restaurant) which is situated over on the other side of the estuary. Simply catch the ferry from Whitestrand over to East Portlemouth where you will find the beautiful sandy beaches. Depending on the tide, either walk up the slipway and turn right onto the road, or walk along the beaches. When you get to a really big beach that seems to disappear a long way back from the water’s edge you are on Mill Bay. At this point, walk to the back of the beach and hang a right.
Follow your nose keeping the sea on your right and follow the signs towards Gara Rock. It should take approximately an hour to get there depending on the number of photos you take en route!
If you are planning on having lunch, remember to leave Salcombe early enough before they stop serving at 2:30pm. Or, if you just fancy tea and cake they are open most of the day. Also note that the last ferry across to Salcombe is at 5:30pm! There is a short way back from Gara Rock to Salcombe, cutting through the forests.
To Snapes Point: estuary views, rolling countryside, stunning Salcombe
Snapes Point can be seen clearly from most places in Salcombe town – it is the domed green hill that juts out to the left across the harbour. The walk rewards you with stunning views of Salcombe and down towards Kingsbridge. This walk will take approximately 2 ½ hours.
Walk down Fore Street. Continue past The Fortescue Inn along Victoria Quay (with the pretty houses) to Island Street. From Island Street keep the water on your right and follow the road around the coastline. Follow signs towards Snapes Point until you reach spectacular views of Salcombe. There is a circular route you can follow around Snapes Point before returning back towards Salcombe for a well-earned pint!
To Bolt Head: rocky coastline, watering holes, stormy seas
Another classic taking you around the coastline of Salcombe; this time the coast is on the Salcombe side of the estuary! Walk up Fore Street keeping the water to your left, continue along the coastline towards North Sands (cue drink at Winking Prawn). Then to South Sands (cue drink at South Sands Hotel or Tides Reach Hotel) and up towards Bolt Head past Overbecks (a National Trust property serving a legendary lemon tart).
Pubs and Restaurants
In Salcombe itself, all of the pubs will be open and approximately 90% of the restaurants will be open over Christmas.
The pubs in town are scattered along the high street and you could walk between all of them in just five to 10 minutes if you wanted. But if you’re looking for one to get settled in, we’d suggest The Victoria Inn on Fore Street. The landlady Liz will make sure you’re right at home and a wide selection of ales, lagers and ciders will keep you entertained throughout the night. Food is also well priced and delicious.
The Ferry Inn (within stumbling distance of Fore Decks) has a very traditional top bar. You can enjoy a great view of the estuary whilst supping on a pint of local ale.
For exceptional cocktails visit Sam at the Salcombe Harbour Hotel. He has the midas touch and drinks can be enjoyed whilst taking in the stunning estuary views.
Again, the Salcombe Harbour Hotel is a great place to eat. The Jetty (01548 844 444) takes full advantage of its waterfront location, with award-winning chef Alex Aitken creating mouth-watering menu concepts. Serving local and seasonal dishes, with fish landed daily and a local larder of delicious seasonal produce on its doorstep, The Jetty offers an exceptional Salcombe dining experience. Sensibly priced and a cracking wine list.
Along Fore Street overlooking the estuary, you will find Dick and Wills’ restaurant (01548 843 408). The restaurant is bright and in an exceptional location overlooking the water. The seafood is good especially the fresh fish of the day. A fairly pricey affair but a cracking location.
Boatswain’s Brasserie (6-7 Russell Court, 01548 842189) in Salcombe is a small bistro tucked up a picturesque alleyway. It’s slightly hidden away but well worth finding for really good food – the standard’s always high and it’s not too pricey.
Another little gem of a place is Bistro 73 (01548 842 319). In the daytime, this is the Salcombe Coffee Company in the centre of town which is very popular, and in the evening it is transformed into Bistro 73. This is highly recommended for delicious food at sensible prices. They serve a great bottle of Picpoul.
Please note that most restaurants and pubs stop serving food at 8:30pm.
One of the most popular places to watch a band is the Island Street Bar & Grill. The venue hosts live music throughout the year, with rock, acoustic, indie, pop and the occasional DJ. The waterside terrace, great menu and colourful cocktail list always prove a big hit.