Arguably Devon’s brightest gem is the South Hams, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The South Hams, sandwiched between Dartmoor National Park, Plymouth and the South coast, boasts miles of rugged coastline, spectacular views, cosy pubs, nature reserves teeming with wildlife and giant waves rolling into some of Britain’s best surfing beaches. Home to four market towns, it is the villages and rural areas which are the most rewarding to explore.
Pop in on England’s largest population of the enigmatic Cetti’s warbler at the Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve, which surrounds South West England’s largest freshwater lake.
Stock up with a cream tea in the beautiful grounds of South Allington House before a game of scrabble, local ales and a spot of blues rock in the Pigs Nose Inn, a 500 year-old smuggler’s pub in the sleepy village of East Prawle. Prawle Point, which you can walk to from the village, showcases some of Devon’s most stunning views with craggy coves such as Elender’s and Venerick’s perfect for summertime picnics.
Where to stay?
Boutique hotel The Whitehouse in Chillington has a large garden, a seasonal menu including wild River Dart mussels and imaginatively decorated rooms with log fires and rainstorm showers. The family-run Old Cotmore Farm camping site in Stokenham nestles in its own grounds of 22 acres and is only a mile away from the South West coastal path.
Where to eat?
There are heaps of pubs and restaurants in the South Hams sporting local seafood, cider and characteristic Westcountry cheer. Worth working up an appetite for is the Old Bakery in Kingsbridge, which uses fresh local ingredients for brunch, tapas and fine dining in a relaxing atmosphere evocative of languid Mediterranean evenings.
Tell us a local secret
In 1944, 3,000 locals were evacuated from villages in the South Hams for 30,000 troops to carry out clandestine D-day training, due to the resemblance of local beaches to those in Normandy.
Did you know?
The name South Hams comes from the old English word “hamme”, meaning an enclosed or sheltered space. This refers to the climate of the area, which is one of the mildest in Britain thanks to its southerly location and protection by Dartmoor’s battered granite hilltops.