On to Salcombe in the South Hams Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty … I had decided that we needed to be nearer Cornwall, as we didn’t have much time on Saturday morning to get to Liskeard to see Emily Hobhouse’s exhibition at the local museum, which shuts at 1.00 pm.
The distances weren’t far … we visited Brixham as per my previous post … sadly didn’t spend any time in Dartmouth, just crossed the Dart estuary by ferry … and went on our way to Salcombe.
Dartmouth was of strategic importance as a deep water port for sailing vessels … the Crusades of 1147 AD and 1190 AD set out from here.
|The Butterwalk (1635-40) - intricately|
carved wooden facade on granite pillars
It became a home for the Royal Navy from the reign (1327 – 1377) of Edward III (but was twice surprised and sacked during the Hundred Years’ War (1337 – 1453) ...
... after which the mouth of the estuary was closed every night with a great chain – it must have been ‘great’!!).
In 1373 Chaucer visited and recorded that among the pilgrims in his Canterbury Tales:
A schipman was ther, wonyng fer by weste;
For ought I wost, he was of Dertemouthe.
As you’ll have realised there is lots of history and I will definitely need to visit at some stage …
|Salcombe, Kingsbridge Estuary|
The estuaries here are of the dendritic Ria type I describedin my A-Z “E” post earlier this year and there are lots of them … so travelling on our small roads makes for lots of ups and downs, curling round avoiding headlands, or missing out numerous coves … but with beautiful scenery all around.
The Rias are drowned valleys caused by rising sea levels rather than a true estuary: their size is out of proportion to the few streams which discharge into them.
|Delightful streets down to the|
Also parking … thankfully we were at the end of October, with shorter days … yes, not good for the light, but at least we could find parking at the harbours.
|Geraniums still in flower|
Salcombe’s house prices have rocketed and are the highest in the UK outside of central London, soaring above Sandbanks in Poole, Dorset in recent years.
So you will understand that the shops, bars and restaurants cater for the predominantly well-off, fashionable and nautically inclined clientele, with prices to match. I did look to stop over here … but not really up our street – thankfully we’d taken lunch in Brixham!
|A cove visible across the estuary on the drive|
down into Salcombe
We did wander around a bit … it’s a fascinating place – and I could see the wealth that put its face out for show!
Lord Tennyson’s (1809 – (1892) famous poem “Crossing the Bar” was inspired by a visit to Salcombe during the 19th century … towards the mouth of the estuary is The Bar, a spit of sand protruding from the east bank, which is exposed at low Spring Tides.
“Sunset and evening star and one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea”
|Hallsands and Beesands ... coves and beaches|
along the south Devon coast
We left the moaning noise of the water breaking over The Bar and headed out to Soar Mill Cove …
I was interested in the name ‘Soar’ – it’s not a reference to ‘rising above’, or ‘a mode of flight’ – but is of pre 7th century Old French origin.
|Chestnut coloured hillside on way down to Cove|
One of a group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames … referencing a variety of characterstics – in this case “sor” meaning chestnut as a colour … reddish brown hair or complexion.
|Soar Mill Cove, when the tide was out|
We did find our way at the end of a narrow winding lane … on National Trust land which includes part of the South West Coast Path … cliffs, sandy bays, wooded estuaries historic harbours: easy to strenuous walks on offer.
The hotel’s situation is amazing – but the original, single-storey hotel building didn’t look too pre-supposing but has an interesting history.
|Craggy outcrops, gorse bushes still with some colour,|
and tiny fields - still acting as pasture
It once housed a cinema in Devonport, part of the Plymouth Naval Base, before being transported during the Second World War to the tiny aerodrome, north of the hotel, where it became an unofficial officers’ mess.
The building was then bought from the navy to be added to an existing guest house at its present location at Soar Mill Cove.
The family have owned the hotel since 1978 and built it up to be of a high-class establishment with lots of modern embellishments – but just being in the ‘middle of nowhere’ is bliss … knowing that one is well looked after … we even had a complementary cream tea on arrival … no wonder I wasn’t that hungry come dinner time!
|Their famous Soar Mill Chowder - which|
we both enjoyed
We had wonderful food … the setting is perfect: especially if you don’t want to shop! And want coastal paths to walk off the awesome food.
|Smoked Fishcake with spinach and a Tartare Sauce|
Certainly an area of the country I really need to explore more … but the thought of traffic in mid-summer slightly daunts me – still a few days of reading, resting and relaxing on or near the rias sounds good to me!
|A panna cotta with soft meringue, red fruits|
and extra cream
I had two starters, and no dessert – while Jenny had a starter and the delicious looking dessert … it did look yummy!
Hilary Melton-ButcherPositive Letters Inspirational Stories