Historic Plymouth is always a favourite amongst boaters and offers a terrific choice of places to have a meal or just stop off for a snack and a drink.
Plymouth sits on the border between Devon and Cornwall and has played a key role in Britain’s Naval history; Devonport is the largest operational naval base in Western Europe. It is home to the Royal Navy’s amphibious ships HMS Ocean, Albion and Bulwark, 11 frigates and seven nuclear subs, and HQ to Brittany Ferries, the Royal Marines and Princess Yachts.
Millbay, also known as Millbay Docks, is an area of dockland in Plymouth. The area around Millbay is undergoing long term development with additional berthing options now at the Royal William Yard, out towards Devil’s Point and the newer King Point Marina, second marina of Sutton Harbour, within the inner basin of Millbay itself.
From a foodie point of view things are definitely looking up with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall choosing the perfectly converted Royal Navy victualling yard at Stonehouse (Royal William Yard) for one of his rare Canteens and we always keep a watch on the Stable’s latest openings, which have been at Plymouth and Winchester this summer.
A mixed city, as all the interesting ones are, with a decent Uni (7th largest in UK) that still offers a surf locker to interested students and home to Plymouth Gin, one of my favourites.
A JOLLY BREAKFAST
We get in early so tie up at Mayflower Marina, tucked in on your left as you enter the Tamar and looking over towards Cremyll Village in Cornwall and the afore mentioned Royal William Yard. We know we will get a good breakfast at Jolly Jacks and I am intrigued to find out more about this friendly marina which has won TYHA’s UK Coastal Marina Award two years in a row now. It is actually owned by its 400 or so berth holders, which seems to work very well.
Fortified by the full English and double poached eggs, with proper crisp bacon, we look at the hike and bike options from here and they are good.
Bike: Our old friend National Cycle Route 2 is sign posted outside the Mayflower’s entrance, and a choice of ferries take you over to Cornwall, via the Cremyll Ferry, or from RWY to the Barbican where you can either walk back along the Hoe, looking out for Spanish Armadas to your left…
Hike: …or take the short ferry hop from the Barbican to Mount Batten Peninsular where you have some splendid coastal walks and we can recommend the Clovelly Bay Inn as a good cosy stop off for sustenance. Yacht Havens’ Marina is over here and offers a sheltered berth from south westerlies.
We scoot over the narrow passage dividing the Mayflower from the Royal William, noting Princess Yachts’ impressive set up with a steady flow of boats chugging in and out. The other interesting hanger is just downstream from the Mayflower, and looms blackly on the otherwise bright green river bank. This fascinating listed building is home to Will Sterling, one of the UK’s finest traditional boat builders – note to self to visit next time I am down, the build quality is meant to be exceptional.
The conversion from victualling yard to atmospheric waterfront living has been done very well. Designed by architect Sir John Rennie in 1825, this is the largest collection of Grade 1 listed military buildings in Europe and are now a mix of spacious apartments, restaurants, shops and galleries. Many of the flats have superb views out over the water and the developers have left as much integrity in the old buildings as to make them darned interesting, and hold their price.
But we do not want to talk property when we can be talking dough. Yes, the RW bakery genuinely uses the old space that would have turned out the ship’s biscuits for the Navy back in the day, but now the impressive Our Bakery group are here, doing what they do so well over in Lyme Regis and Poundbury, making great bread in an atmospheric setting and sharing it out.
Big wooden tables, piles of croissants and pain au chocolate straight from the ovens, bakers throwing dough about – near heaven for me, as the coffee is supplied by Clifton too – they are on it! Everything is good here.
The sun is fully out now as we push open the huge heavy door of the bakery and waddle past the RW Water Ferry that runs daily to the Barbican (£3 single) and head to the very end of the quay. Here the Canteen has tables and chairs spilling out on the cobbles, enjoying a most fabulous view, which we enjoy with a cool local beer in hand and a platter of meat and cheese on the table.
Hugh FW knows his punter and provides an excellent grazing table throughout the day and an exciting deli bar that is great for topping up your picnic basket if you have only half filled it from the bakery.
The Dock at King Point also comes highly recommended and is another top spot for breakfast, with the modern glazed building having a cracking view over the marina.
If you want to wander a little further I would give Rock Salt Café a try, just up the road at 31 Stonehouse Street, good attention to detail and fresh local produce.
Coming up soon – Dartmouth, Salcombe and Tresco, so send in any favourites you wish me to visit.
need to know
Mayflower Marina: 01752 556633
King Point Marina: 01752 424297
Jolly Jacks, Mayflower: 01752 500008
The Canteen, RWY: 01752 252702
RW Bakery: 01752 265448
The Dock, King Point: 01752 253555
Rock Salt Café, 31 Stonehouse Street: 01752 225522
Bike & SUP hire: Rockets & Rascals
Bike: Plym Valley Trail 13.5 miles using old rail line inland towards Dartmoor