Thursday, 3 December 2015

West Country Tour – Salcombe and Soar Mill Cove … part 6 …

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.

Salcombe Estuary
from Sharp Tor
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.

Soar Mill Cove Hotel

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-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Elephant's Child said...

What an absolutely glorious looking place.
Those coastal paths would be very, very tempting. And possibly necessary if the food was as good as it looked.

Anabel Marsh said...

Your pictures of the coast are glorious and I have noted that hotel for future reference. It looks wonderful.
Anabel's Travel Blog
Adventures of a retired librarian

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

I love the West Country. This bit is a part I don't know at all well. Loved your meander through some of it, and the photos.

Rhodesia said...

I am really enjoying the historical parts on your tour, I wish my history teacher at school had been as interesting! Looks like a wonderful hotel and the food - yum yum. Have a good weekend Diane

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Gorgeous place! And that chowder looks absolutely amazing. That cove in the picture almost looks tropical (and I know it's cold there!)

Out on the prairie said...

The presentation of the foods is delightful. What a beautiful area to explore and enjoy.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Such a variety in the beaches.
And that must've been one really long chain.

Manzanita said...

Another trip with food for the gods. The fishcakes soared to the top
of the list. Well maybe that is not the right soar but the fishcakes
would be my favorite. LOL

Karen Walker said...

Oh that food does look yummy. And the scenery is breathtaking.

beste barki said...

Hello Hilary. You know what is the best thing about following your journey? It is seeing these beautiful places in the right scale. Otherwise, all I know is what the place looks like on a map. I loved the beaches, the coves, the estuaries.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC - Salcombe and the cliffs around it, particularly this area of Soar Mill Hote - were really special. Food helps too! The coastal paths attract many walkers ...

@ Anabel - some photos aren't mine - but I mix and match. The hotel is a good one and it would be lovely to be there for a few days ... so I hope you get to do that.

@ Mike - I too love the West Country ... and we were meandering - with a purpose relative to Jenny, which was the important bit - doing things she wanted to do. Also it's given me time to take a bit more in - and to see sights I'd have probably never have thought of looking at.

@ Diane - thanks so much ... I can reliably tell you I learn as I go too - or more often when I get back! I didn't enjoy history either at school ... the hotel was a great find and the food definitely did match up.

@ Elizabeth - yes it was a gorgeous place. The chowder was fantastic - perhaps why they've been making it for 35 years! ... it's so good they can't stop. I know the photos - sometimes I have to cheat re colours ... it's getting cold, but not as cold as it should be in December (even though that was October!).

@ Steve - good looking food usually tastes good. I'd have liked to have done more exploring ... but we were wandering slowly around and didn't have spare time. It was fun though.

@ Alex - yes lots of variety ... depending on the underlying rock layers ... Britain is full of diversity. I know I couldn't think of a better way of describing it ... 'great' seemed to fit the bill!

@ Manzanita - oh yes more food for the gods, or the ever expanding waist-line! The fishcake was very good indeed ... and 'soaring' to the top is a good pun for Soar Mill Cove! Thank you for that!

@ Karen - the food was yummy - though the cream tea had taken my appetite away! The scenery would have been improved with blue sky- but then it probably would have been very cold ... so warmth I was quite pleased with!

@ Beste - thanks .. I try and relate everything I write about - hence all the photos ... so I'm delighted you think I'm bringing everything to life and it looks right and relatable ...

Thanks everyone - seems I always win with the food ... but am happy if you are all happy being here reading ... cheers Hilary

Michele at Angels Bark said...

Wow, that all is really interesting. Hard to think that they'd close off the mouth of the estuary with a chain every night! That must have been some chain!
The chestnut colored hillside is gorgeous, as all all the pics.
You are such a travel inspiration!

Michele at Angels Bark

Joanne said...

tough to resist that dessert - you need an extra spoon, no matter what. I love the peak at the harbor picture. Nothing like driving along and every twist and turn offers a water view. Fantastic jaunts

Bish Denham said...

All the pictures are (put particularly the food) eye candy! The picture of cove, visible across the estuary looks downright tropical. Beautiful.

Jeffrey Scott said...

I've always found it interesting how they can pick up a house and move it. Sometimes all at once, sometimes brick by brick. Amazing.
More great food photos. I'm not big on seafood but I'd certainly try some of what you presented her.
I am also a big desert person. And I love trying anything new in the desert tray. MMMMM

Patsy said...

I have a friend who's lucky enough to have a lovely home in Salcombe and generous enough to invite us for visits so I've been there a few times. It's a lovely place, but I did have to restrict all my shopping to the window variety.

I've not been to Soar Mill cove but it looks worth a visit and so does the hotel.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Ah, the food! Yummy. The tree is spectacular. And Soar Mill Cove, so beautiful. Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos, Hilary. Next best thing to being there. Your notes bring the place alive.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Michele - thanks so much .. I was fascinated by the chain too - and as you say it must have been some chain. But they were used to man-handling weights and iron around ..

Glad you commented on the chestnut hillside to match the 'soar' name ... glad you enjoyed coming with me on my travels ..

@ Joanne - yes it is tough to resist the dessert - thankfully it's usually the 2nd or 3rd course! Sadly driving around now is not so easy .. but if one does it in autumn/winter - the traffic is less. Yes I used to love driving around Cornwall when I'd just passed my test .. around the coves and harbours ...

@ Bish - yes .. sorry about the food 'candy' ... and the coves do look tropical - but it was grey and cool ... It is called, I think ! post artifice!!

@ Jeffrey - yes, we have a lighthouse here at Beachy Head - that is moved back ... they thought it was for 75 years, but it looks like it will need to be retreated once again 'fairly soon' .. ie 65 years early. They've also moved houses brick by brick and still do it ...

Delighted you enjoyed the photos and were happy to believe in me re the sea food .. but the desserts - men and their stomachs!!

@ Patsy - well she's a good friend to know! It looked a wonderful harbour village with lots of history ... and I'm sure the window variety of shopping was an essential - I felt so!

Do go to Soar Mill Cove - it's lovely ...

@ Joylene - ah yes the food was yummy! I wondered what you were referring to - 'the tree' but I think it must be the gorse bush ... they are very scrubby bushes, with amazing yellow flowers ... yet so so sprickly!

Delighted you can visualise yourself being with me on our journey ...

Cheers to you all ... it was a delightful area to visit .. Hilary

Romance Reader said...

What lovely photos and I loved visiting the place through your post!

Lowcarb team member said...

I visited Salcombe some years ago now - I really must try and get there again.
Lovely post and lovely photo's, thank you.

All the best Jan

dolorah said...

Been a long time since I took a ferry ride. I loved the one I did in Dover, I think it was. Fun trip.

Tammy Theriault said...

Do you have to post such decadent looking food?!? Wow!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nas - delighted you enjoyed sharing my visit - thanks

@ Jan - I hope you can get down to Salcombe again sometime soon

@ Donna - ferry rides can be fun .. there are still a few around just across estuaries ... avoiding long rides inland.

@ Tammy - sorry about the food - but it does make our blogs go round more easily!

Cheers to you ... Hilary

Nilanjana Bose said...

That coastline looks sumptuous! thanks for the photos...and the chowder isn't too bad either :-)

Rosalind Adam said...

I love that part of the world. I'm quite envious.

Deniz Bevan said...

Ooh, Hilary, I've been missing your tour! What a wonderful idea. I hadn't known about Chaucer visiting! I suppose because of the Canterbury connection I always think of him as being out in Kent. Must read up on this some more!

Deborah Weber said...

It's always such a joy to stop by here Hilary - you are such a wonderful teacher and shower of delights. Those photos are fabulous - most definitely enticing.

Mark Koopmans said...

Beautiful location , wonderful weather and a friend to travel with... Sounds like bliss to me :)

Have a great weekend yourself, Hilary :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

What a fabulous place to visit! Steeped in history, with gorgeous sights to see and great food... it doesn't get any better than that. (And in my book, the lack of shopping is a definite PLUS!)

Interesting about the derivation of the word Soar. Bet that's where "sorrel" comes from, too.

Cheers! Have a super weekend.

Nick Wilford said...

Looks like you're having a fantastic time! I'm always interested in the history of place names. And the scenery is amazing.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

What a lovely trip. And you always save those pictures of mouth-watering food to tempt me with. Interesting about the origin of 'Soar.'

DMS said...

Oh my goodness- such gorgeous views! Wow! Stunning! Happy to travel and learn with you. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nila - the coastal path must be wonderful ... as too sailing. The chowder was delicious.

@ Ros - it is a wonderful part of the UK

@ Deniz - good to see you. It looks like people travelled much more than we thought - as I too had always thought of him as spending time in the Kent - London areas.

@ Deborah - am happy to have fellow travellers, who enjoy learning with me and seeing what's available.

@ Mark - yes it was fun ... the weather wasn't brilliant - these are 'pretty' photos - my grey ones wouldn't do too well.

@ Susan - lots of history over here ... while the landscape down in Devon has a feel all of its own. I too don't like shopping ... so was happy with that - but you could get the 'rich' feel just looking around.

You're right about sorrel - being a derivation from that ancient word of 'sor': well done!

@ Nick - it was a fun trip ... easy travel, but I learnt loads. The place name history always interests me too ... and the scenery in Devon is magnificent.

@ Susan - the trip was fun. Food photos always entice don't they. Glad you too enjoyed the origin of 'Soar'.

@ Jess - thankfully other people post better pictures than I take - so it's been 'blushed' up a little ... but our weather has its moments of grey! Lovely seeing you here.

Cheers to you all - thanks so much for visiting and leaving interesting comments - Hilary

Michelle Wallace said...

A scenic location!
Love the nooks and crannies popping up all over...that cove on the drive down into Salcombe...the coves and beaches of Hallsands and Beesands...
Soar Mill Cove Hotel looks like a lovely spot. In the middle of nowhere? Mmmm. I'm wondering about its history...maybe a potential story waiting to unfold...who knows?
The food looks delicious, Hilary!
Hope you're well! *waving*

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Michelle - yes it was a very scenic location and the nooks and crannies with their creeks and streams that make up the west country coastline.

Soar Mill Cove was a treat - I guess with another few days, some walks, a swim in the cove and the pool ... it'd be brilliant! Could well find a story or two here ... lots of buried artefacts around ... and then of course the food to resuscitate us after our searches: it was delicious.

All well here - and yes I'd love to be waving with you in sunny South Africa!! Cheers Hilary

Susan Scott said...

Lovely and yummy post Hilary thank you! Truly, you make history come alive and provide feasts for the eyes, whether food or mother nature herself. I imagine myself rambling alongside you ... wishful thinking but these kinds of flights of fancy are my treasures .. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - well let's hope the rambling can happen sometime - that'd be fun ... I need to stretch my legs and lungs more now. Soar Mill Cove was special - delighted I stretch your idea of history and festive feasts .. cheers Hilary