Let’s face it; self-catering holidays do give you more freedom, and that’s a fact! This is particularly helpful when traveling with a family, when rigid timetables and itineraries can turn an enjoyable fun packed holiday into a panic stricken rush around. By the time everyone is up and ready to go, you dare not venture too far for fear of missing the supper slot! On a self-catering holiday you choose what and when you want to eat; your holiday activities are not continually interrupted with a ‘call to lunch or dinner. You can choose where to eat too, visit the many restaurants in Torquay and sample locally sourced and produced foods abundant in south Devon. As picnic season approaches, contact Popuppicnic.com.au picnic catering company for fun, fresh, stress-free, enchanting catered picnics of any size.
If you enjoy cooking, you may prefer to be creative and pull together a feast in the kitchen of your self catering holiday accommodation. It doesn’t somehow feel like a ‘busman’s holiday’ because you have not just returned home from the daily grind – you’ve been out enjoying the sights of Torquay and south Devon. With self catering holidays, you simply have greater flexibility; there will be days that are just not long enough to take everything in. If you are planning a day out, you can pack up a picnic lunch for everyone. Often more enjoyable; it can cater for everyone’s preferences, as well as being a less costly option for those who are keen to holiday on a budget.
Walks and Places to Visit in Torquay and South Devon
Torquay and south Devon has much to offer. The South West Coast Path stretches along the entire length of the English Riviera, south Devon’s beautiful bay, where you’ll find 22 miles of coastal path passing through some stunning Geopark scenery.
A popular route is the 2.5 miles from Torquay Harbour to Daddyhole Plain. The walk passes a number of landmarks including Beacon Cove where Agatha Christie used to swim as a girl, and the naturally-sculpted cliff arch known as ‘London Bridge’. Finally, after a climb to 200ft above sea level you’ll reach Daddyhole Plain (so named because locals used to believe that ‘Daddy’ – the devil – lived in a cave underneath the plain), a wonderful vantage point allowing you to gaze across Torquay and out to sea.
Cockington Country Estate Walk – This is a circular, 2-mile walk from Torquay and popular with local people and visitors alike. The village itself is steeped in history and still retains its sense of isolation and rural tranquillity owing to its confined situation in a narrow valley. It has its own stream which reaches the sea at Livermead. The village also adjoins the extensive parkland (290 acres) which surround Cockington Court and the Parish Church, both of which lie some 350 metres to the west of the present village centre.
If you’re looking for a more strenuous hike, why not try the more challenging route from Churston and Broadsands? A peaceful path passing through country lanes, patches of woodland and secluded coves, this is a rewarding walk that showcases the South Devon countryside at its very best!
For another alternative, you could also try exploring the moderately difficult walk around Watcombe and Maidencombe in Torquay, which provides fabulous panoramic views over both Babbacombe and Lyme Bays. On this walk you can also enjoy beautiful, unspoiled countryside and the picturesque village of Maidencombe; perhaps taking a well-earned break at the Thatched Tavern Pub nestling within earshot of the sea.
South Devon Attractions
Kents Cavern is prehistoric Stone Age cave, with an extensive labyrinth of spectacular and easily accessible caverns. This iconic heritage comes highly recommended by visitors on TripAdvisor. It is the official underground visitor centre for UNESCO’s English Riviera Global Geopark and features on the Agatha Christie Literary Trail. In fact, Agatha Christie’s father Frederick Miller was a member of the Torquay Natural History Society and supported Pengelly’s excavations of the caves.
Take the tour, lasting around 2 hours, which are led by entertaining guides concluding in an underground exhibition chamber. There are loads of activities for all the family, including a childrens’ archaeological dig area, hands-on cave art walls and regular appearances by the attraction’s mascot Cavog the Caveman. Underground theatre and evening entertainment are specialities here. The ghost tour and the interactive Shakespeare plays are particularly popular. This truly is one attraction not to be missed!
Living Coasts is a top class attraction, especially if you love wildlife and the sea. Based in Torquay, it is Britain’s only coastal zoo and a nationally-important discovery centre, as well as being part of the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust. Focusing on birds and other coastal wildlife; the site is covered by a giant aviary, standing some 19 metres (62 ft.) at its highest point. Living Coasts includes several animal enclosures and habitats; it features an impressive artificial tidal estuary, a penguin beach, a tropical mangrove swamp, and a collection of underwater viewing areas.
Babbacombe Model Village portrays English life and culture over the last fifty years and since opening in 1963, it has continued to expand including up to the minute features such as a wind farm and hydroelectric dam. There are also over 400 models of houses, stately homes, factories, shops, entertainment venues, and environmental features.
A variety of architectural styles are on display, from medieval to Tudor and onto Victorian times; along with railways, vehicles and some well-known monuments and landmarks. Not forgetting, of course, 13,000 miniature people who live in the village! The whole experience is brought to life with the inclusion of sound and animation.
South Devon Villages and Attractions
This town has been the centre of the area’s fishing industry for centuries. Brixham Heritage Museum has a host of historical information on this. You might also like to sample the delights of the freshest local catch in one of the town’s cafés or restaurants. Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind sits triumphantly in Brixham’s inner harbour. Take a look on board and experience what it was like aboard a galleon in Drake’s time.
Brixham celebrates with several festivals throughout the year, including Fishstock, the Heritage Festival, Brixham Trawler Races, Brixham Pirate and Shanty Festival (which holds the World Record for a mile of pirates), Pirate Days, a regatta and Brixham Hapnin. It’s not all about fish, though; the summer Cowtown festival celebrates the town’s agricultural side too! Berry Head is a National Nature Reserve and gateway site for the UNESCO-supported English Riviera Global Geopark. Visit the Breakwater and its Beach, complete with its own Blue Flag, Quality Coast Award and Marine Conservation Society Good Beach Guide awards.
A typical English seaside town, Paignton has pretty much everything for a family holiday. Award winning beautiful sandy beaches, a traditional pier and a lovely green on which to relax, with donkey rides and a brand new play area to complete the picture! Paignton Zoo is a perfect day out for the whole family. With over 3000 animals from across the globe, it’s also dedicated to the conservation and preservation of our natural heritage.
Children will love Splashdown @ Quaywest Waterpark, with eight fantastic outdoor waterslides, suited to all ages, as well as a number of swimming pools. If you long to set off to sea and return with your freshly caught supper, fishing trips are available from the harbour side! More relaxing, but no less fun, is a trip on the Dartmouth Steam Railway, letting you experience the beautiful countryside around the English Riviera. Or, you can get closer to the local wildlife with a visit to Occombe Farm and Nature Trail.
Every summer the town hosts the Dartmouth Royal Regatta, featuring rowing and sailing events, air displays and live entertainment. Dartmouth has a strong connection with the Royal Navy and Prince William trained at Dartmouth Naval College. The town’s history is closely linked to the sea; having once provided a base for pirates; The Mayflower called in for emergency repairs interrupting its journey to the Americas, and was a departure point for American troops taking part in the World War II D-Day landings at Utah Beach.
Novelist Agatha Christie set her novel ‘The Regatta Mystery’ in Dartmouth, and her holiday home, ‘Greenway’ (now owned by the National Trust) stands on the banks of the River Dart. Ferry trips regularly run along the river to the house.
You can take a Pleasure Cruise up the River Dart, which will bring deliver you to the medieval town of Totnes. You can also catch a boat ride from Dartmouth to other destinations on the English Riviera, including Brixham, Paignton and Torquay. You can hop on the Dartmouth Steam Railway on its return journey to Paignton. For the ‘smaller adults’, children can enjoy the all-weather fun to be had at Woodlands Family Theme Park, packed with rides, a petting zoo and face painting. Golfers will love the superb facilities at Dartmouth Golf and Country Club.
To get a real feel for what true freedom feels like, with masses of open space in stunning surroundings, Dartmoor has truly jaw-dropping splendor. This National Park is just an hour’s drive from the English Riviera. It’s the largest wild area of open countryside in the south of England and the main attraction is its sheer natural beauty, with rolling hills, towering rock formations (called tors) and lush, green landscapes. Dartmoor stars in Steven Spielberg’s stunning new film adaptation of War Horse. When filming on location, he was quoted as saying “I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor”. Sites include the small village of Meavy, Sheepstor, Burrator Reservoir and Bonehill Rocks near Widecombe-in-the-Moor.
If it is freedom, diversity and sheer beauty you want from your self-catering holiday, South Devon and Torquay has much to offer. I have visited all of the places mentioned and used these experienced to inform this Self-Catering Holidays in south Devon article.
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