Sunny, sparkling Salcombe. Darling estuary on the South Hams, favoured sailing holiday retreat of Mary Berry and birthplace of Jack Wills – what is not to like?
I am so happy to be here in Salcombe on a sunny Friday morning. All smiles and good mornings as I walk along the high street heading for my first coffee. I duck into Salcombe Coffee Co where I join a small queue for breakfast and am tempted by the tomato & mozzarella muffin. They do great coffee and it is quite small and cosy. If you want an alternative with a waterfront view try the Ward Room, who use Clifton Coffee and have some fine art on the walls by Dartmouth’s own Peter Barber.
Coffee sorted and I am off to find the best baker in town, which is easy, as it is the Bake House. In the bag go cheese straws, a slim bronzed baguette and some Bakewell slices. A trot along to one of three delis (Salcombe Deli is my fav) fills the basket with Quikes Hard Goats, Tintagel Smoked Cheddar and some Rocky Road for later… well a girl can get hungry you know.
Now into the Harbour Master’s Office to say hallo and see how the summer has been. Adam Parnell (March 2015 Boating People) says he has seen some changes this year in the visitors’ pattern. The overall numbers have been down, but they have all stayed longer with continuing journeys to places like Kingsbridge, so the total number of nights stayed is the best for three years. This is good news for the town as everything begins to slow down after the October half term.
STROLL BEFORE LUNCH
What a fabulous Indian summer we have right now and for those who can slip their moorings easily, there are vacant buoys in the top spots and even a bit of space on the harbour pontoon.
I have heard that you guys do not like too long a hike before lunch so we will stroll along the cliff path to the Winking Prawn (an institution here with new sister the Cracking Crab opened on Polzeath Beach this summer) with the best crab sandwich out of town; very family friendly, they even have a dressing-up box – jump in!
If there is time you have got to head up and round the bend to Overbecks as it has stunning views and a veritable jungle of agapanthus to gaze upon. Sparkling water to my right, smiling dog walking happiness to my left, we are in strong Border Terrier country here.
I head back to the Harbour Hotel, where I have a lunch date. But there is just time for a quick glass of rosé at Dick and Wills, as I am planning a re-visit here. The menu is full of spicy, mixed up flavourings – King Prawn and Brill Aloo Gobi catches my eye, as does the chargrilled fillet steak burger.
SALCOMBE HARBOUR HOTEL
Salcombe Harbour Hotel has been transformed over the last few years into a haven of calm for holidaymakers and weekend escapers. Its magnificent position on the terraced banks assures guests of an ever changing view over to Small’s Cove and up and down this enchanting estuary. The group is small, but perfectly formed with waterfront hotels at Christchurch, meandering westwards to Sidmouth, Salcombe and St Ives.
Pilates on the roof terrace, cocktails on the deck, a crustacean bar in the summer months and the Jetty restaurant serving reliably good local produce throughout.
I catch up with Jason at the Jetty and order a mocktail whilst deciding what to eat, as we have the team on-board later to share our Salcombe Deli and Bake House hawl. I am going for three starters.
I cannot resist the scallop baked in its own shell with parmesan and lemon crust, or the traditional prawn cocktail, but it is the crab croquettes I can remember Janet Street Porter raving about when Alex Aitken cooked for her and Brian Turner on their Great British Favourites TV show when visiting Dorset.
The dark meat is in the centre, with the white meat enveloped in crisp crumb diddley yum. I liked the dill mayo, with baby broad bean and pea crunch to swipe over the richness of the meat.
A wonderful, special place to come for a naughty weekend, or to escape the rigours of being on board for a while.
The short hike – The Winking Prawn, barely a mile and half from the town centre.
The longer hike – Soar Mill Cove for afternoon tea – only 3 miles max from Overbecks
Best of the rest
Best pub – the Victoria Inn
Best ice cream – Salcombe Dairy. They supply Virgin Airlines, Air NZ and Singapore
Alternative crustaceans – The Crab Shed, 10 minutes north of the Harbour Office, by Fish Quay.
Thanks to: With thanks to Jason Parry at the Jetty and Lex Thornely at the Orange Cow.
need to know
The Jetty 01548 845083
Dick and Wills 01548 843408
Salcombe Deli 01548 842332
Victoria Inn 01548 842604
Winking Prawn 01548 842326
The Bake House 01548 842824
The Crab Shed 01548 844280 at Fish Quay, a short stroll up river