With the summer holidays officially over, we find ourselves making plans for the next break in the school calendar year,...
There are few things more quintessentially British than a summer’s picnic. Eating alfresco, regardless of sunshine or rain, is a favourite national pastime, and it comes as no surprise to us that our region boasts some of the best picnic spots in Devon. Not only is South Devon an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but what’s more, it’s widely reputed for its love of sumptuous food, creating a perfect combination for both the seasoned and aspiring picknicker’. Whether you want to relax on the clifftops, discover secluded coves, or explore the rolling countryside, we will share with you a selection of the best picnic spots in South Devon.
The locally based team at Coast & Country Cottages know some of the best picnic spots in South Devon. So, pack your picnic blanket and fill your hamper with freshly baked bread, local cheeses, and lashings of homemade lemonade. Here, (in no particular order!), are the best picnic spots in South Devon:
Location: SAT NAV users: TQ7 3AN for Bantham Beach
“I like to grab a coffee from The Gastrobus and walk along the coast path to enjoy the panoramic views of Bantham’s large expanse of golden sand and turquoise rippling ocean. This surfers’ paradise is one of the best places in South Devon to watch the sun set behind Burgh Island and the surfers drift in over the waves back to the shoreline. At low tide the beach opens up to reveal acres of shallow sandy pools, creating ideal play areas for toddlers and exposing rockpools below the headland.”
Bantham Beach was voted one of the top 10 beaches in Europe (Lonely Planet, 2015). To find out more about Britain’s best beach read our guide to Bantham Beach here.
“One of my favourite ways to spend a sunny Sunday is to walk from Dartmouth to Blackpool Sands. My wife and I often stop for a bite at The Venus Café right by the beach, but there are some nice picnic spots on the way too. Our favourite is just a few steps off the beaten path, but it’s so tucked away that lots of people miss it. You’ll find this spot about 500 m down the hill from the Little Dartmouth National Trust car park on Redlap Road. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and porpoises which are often seen in this area!”
Location: SAT NAV users: TQ8 8NQ for Snape’s Point car park
“There are a couple of nice picnic spots here. At one end of the car park there is a raised picnic area with a table and views over the Salcombe Estuary and harbour, or take a short circular walk through the rolling fields past a small shingle beach. On the circular loop back, some incredible views begin to unveil of Salcombe and its estuary. This is where I like to settle down with my picnic blanket and watch the hustle and bustle of life on the estuary. There’s often a blaze of colour from sailing boats and paddle boarders making their way about the estuary and its narrow creeks.”
Location: SAT NAV users: TQ8 8PU for Mill Bay car park
“I like to walk across the wide stretch of beach at East Portlemouth and through woodland paths that reveal charming quiet sandy coves, Smalls and Mill Bay. Mill Bay is the larger of the two coves where I can grab a nice ice cream from the Lollapalooza van nestled under the trees at the back of the beach. This is usually followed by a picnic with the kids and Jumbles the dog on Mill Bay beach. Tucked behind trees and woodland makes it feel as though you’re on a deserted island.”
Location: SAT NAV users: TQ8 8LH for South Sands car park
“Only accessible by foot, this breathtaking view is on the Sharp Tor and Bolt Head walk, which runs along the South West Coast Path. Revealing a tropical paradise of palms and banana trees leading to the flourishing wilderness,its home to wild ponies and has various picnic benches along the way. Although Starehole Bay is off the beaten track, it is popular with walkers and boaters alike for its views of the clear turquoise waters. It’s the perfect place to sit and take in the sea air.”
Location: SAT NAV users: TQ7 4DE for Woodleigh village car park
“Woodleigh woods, part of the National Trust landscape, boasts natural woodland that clings to the steep-sided valley of the River Avon. Play ‘Pooh Sticks’ with the family before following the stream into areas of colourful plants brightening up the hedgerow and grassy clearings. You can spot horse shoe imprints, rare plants and wildlife here too. I usually set up a picnic opposite the vivid cornfields, taking in the views of the rolling Devon countryside as I eat. After a lovely lunch in the open air, I always like to visit Avon Mill Garden Centre to look at their coastal plants and enjoy the home-made scones.”
Location: SAT NAV users: TQ7 3JY for South Milton car park
“Hands down one of the picnic best spots in South Devon. The large sandy beach looks out over Thurlestone Rock is the perfect place to lay down the picnic rug, and you can always find a private spot. Alternatively, for something a little more formal, there are several National Trust picnic benches adjacent to the popular Beachouse Cafe overlooking the beach. We love to treat ourselves, and top up our picnic with hot chips from the takeaway, later finishing with an ice-cream!
Read out South Milton beach guide
Location: SAT NAV users: TQ9 6AG (there is a small station car park, with a suggested 50 pence donation)
“This is our family ‘go-to’ when it comes to picnics! The footpath itself is sandwiched between the River Dart and the South Devon Railway track, and slowly meanders through the woods. It’s a magical spot, where wildlife is rife, with an array of birds, butterflies and dragonflies. We often spot kingfishers and herons, and once, a young otter swam beneath our feet! There are many secluded river beaches perfect for residing, and some great swimming holes, which are popular amongst the local wild swimming community.”
Location: SAT NAV users: The Hams Car Park TQ90HS
“This small but perfectly formed South Devon village flanks the River Dart and has everything you need to enjoy a long, lazy day picnicking by the riverside. With an expansive village green, known as ‘the ham’, a play area situated on the waters edge, shallow waters for paddling, and a pontoon for crabbing (also a great jumping spot for those who will brave it!) it provides endless options for busy souls who like to picnic and keep active. The waters provide a haven for sailing, kayaking and paddleboarding, and you will find the local community thriving!”
Read our Dittisham village guide
Location: SAT NAV users: TQ7 2NH
“Rugged. Wild. Unspoilt. Lannacombe beach is one of South Devon’s quieter beaches and is the perfect spot if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the summer crowds. With direct access to the coast path, this secluded spot delivers some of the best scenery in the area, boasting both coast and countryside views.”
Read our Lannacombe Beach Bible
With an abundance of both coastal and countryside spots to enjoy a leisurely lunch or romantic evening picnic, South Devon is an unbeatable location for a relaxing holiday or short break.
Click here to browse our self-catering cottages in South Devon.