Whoever turns their nose up at the British seaside, point them no further than South Devon, aptly named the British Riviera. With charming little towns such as Torquay Paignton and Brixham, miles of coastal walks and endless beaches, it makes for a idyllic staycation.
Incredibly it took me two decades in the UK before I made my way down South over Easter for a weekend getaway. To be honest, I am still mortified it took me so long to discover Devon. With insatiable appetite to make up for lost time we packed as much as we could into three days.
Considering it was a drizzly Easter break and much quieter than it would normally have been, there was surprisingly plenty to do. Sadly, still a lot we didn’t get around to. Which always makes for the perfect excuse to plan another trip soon.
Take the Babbacombe Cliff Railway
Don’t be fooled by the name, this is essentially a cable ride from Babbacombe down to the picturesque Oddicombe Beach. Built in 1926, the Babbacombe Cliff Railway has shuttled hundreds of thousands of holiday makers to and from the beach in over 90 years of service.
Spend an afternoon on Oddicombe Beach
After spending £2.80 on what could potentially be the world’s shortest cable car ride, you might as well make the most of it on Oddicombe Beach. Nestled at the bottom of red sandstone cliffs Oddicombe Beach is a sheltered haven for those looking for a relaxing day out. There are deck chairs for those seeking down time and water sports equipment for hire for the sporty bunch. Doggo Doodles spent the afternoon here chasing balls big and small and getting chased by the persistent suitor Teddy the Cockapoo.
Go shopping in St Marychurch
Just not on a Sunday like we did. This delightful pedestrianised precinct is home to independently owned boutiques, family-run businesses and quaint cafes and is a must for anyone looking to get Instagram worthy shots in Babbacombe.
Mingle with the locals
With Doodles in tow, it is hard not to. Walking around town we bumped into a Labradoodle owner. While talking about all things doodley, we couldn’t help but notice her mesmerising eyes. Mr O took the plunge and asked if we could take a picture of her and she graciously agreed.
Get a room at The Imperial
Torquay makes the perfect base for a South Devon staycation, surrounded with coastal walks and a short drive to surrounding towns and villages. If you’re after Victorian grandeur and 360 degree seascapes, look no further than The Imperial. This magnificent 19th Century Victorian four-star hotel commands a cliff top position, overlooking Torbay and the beautiful Devon coast. Opt for a garden room with sea views and you will be treated to glorious views of the coast and the Torquay Marina.
Take a sunset walk on the Torquay seafront
Even the locals are not keen on scant shopping option Torquay has to offer but one thing undebatable is its central location to coastal walks and delightful sand beaches such as Meadfoot Beach. While the rain didn’t allow us to explore either, we got to enjoy a sunset walk on the promenade taking in the view. For those keen on sea life, right by the marina on Beacon Bay is Living Coasts. It is the UK’s only coastal zoo which is home to a variety of marine species from around the world including seals, penguins, otters, and fish.
Take a photo walk around Brixham
For me, the biggest revelation the British Riviera had to offer was the quaint fishing village of Brixham. Imagine boats and trawlers weaving in and out of the harbour, delivering fresh fish, candy coloured cottages stacked up on the clifftops tiny little stairways leading up the hillside, independent boutique and coffeeshops lining the seafront, a world away from the generic brand names on the high street inland, the squawk of the seagulls, the smell of salt in the air. Sadly, we spent a drizzly, drab afternoon trying to discover as much of Brixham. If anything, it was a great excuse to come back again in summer.
Stock up on Omega 3
Get a load of that Omega goodness. You are on the Seafood Coast of England after all.
At down-to-earth Below Decks in Torquay I opted for mussels and calamari while Mr O ordered fish and chips.
At the hipster Rockfish in Brixham, touted as the closest restaurant to the source of fish in the UK, we had to sample the catch of the day: mackerel, grilled and served with unlimited fresh cut chips.
You can’t come all the way to South Devon and not have some Devon cream tea. You can actually, if you’re more of a coffee drinker. Make like us and order a Full English locally sourced and served all day in most of the region’s many tea rooms. You are spoilt for choice of course but one you should check out is Angels Tea Rooms which has on offer delicious grub and delightful views of the Devon coast.
Leave Totnes for another (sunnier) day
When staycationing, you’ve got to be realistic about how much time you have on your hands. Our quest for fresh, locally sourced cheese took us to Totnes. Sitting in the heart of South Devon on the banks of the River Dart, Totnes is an old market town renowned now for its lively and diverse community and relaxed atmosphere. Sadly we couldn’t explore this lovely little gem to our heart’s content but left fairly contended knowing we would soon be back.