Elinor, 16, who has spent her childhood living in the South Hams, shares some of her favourite activities with you to enjoy on your holiday.
With miles of award-winning beaches and huge expanses of tranquil countryside in an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whether you’re wanting to keep toddlers or teenagers busy whilst on holiday, there is something for everyone, whatever their age. From exploring the unspoilt coastline of South Devon from Bantham to Beesands, to active water sports for more adventurous teens, the South Hams is a wonderful place for a holiday with children!
Crabbing is a hugely popular, somewhat traditional pastime and is brilliant fun when getting the whole family involved – even older teenagers – as the excitement of catching your first, or even your 100th crab is very addictive! The local secret (but we will share it with you) is that the ‘hottest’ spot for crabbing is Bowcombe Bridge near Kingsbridge, with bacon proving the most popular bait with the crabs themselves, although some regulars suggest mackerel strips! Other good spots for crabbing in the South Hams include Victoria Quay in Salcombe as well as Dartmouth Embankment. After the thrill and exhaustion of all the activity, you can grab some of the best fish and chips around at Rockfish in Dartmouth, which caters perfectly for families. You can either eat in or take away and sit by the River Dart.
Another family-favourite activity when visiting the area is Pennywell Farm near Buckfastleigh. The farm is perfect for all weathers, all year round. Children are given the opportunity to hold rabbits and feed lambs plus there are many play areas (both indoor and outdoor) where they can burn off lots of energy. Fond memories can be made during the Christmas festivities where children of all ages have the opportunity to take part in the nativity shows in which live animals play a key role in bringing the story to life, with those who play Mary getting to ride the donkey! Woodlands Family Theme Park near Dartmouth is another favourite with families as it caters for many different ages and proves very popular throughout the year as an all-weather destination. The largest family theme park in the South West boasts specific areas for much younger children including ball pools and soft play sections and more adrenalin-rushing rides for older children- or those willing to get wet – with lots of water slides and the scary Avalanche ride.
Beaches are a perfect day out for all the family, whether it’s for fast and furious water sports for active teenagers or rock pooling and paddling for the younger ones. Mill Bay is a great beach, which is accessible by the East Portlemouth Ferry from Salcombe, adding a new adventure to the day. The shallow waters and soft sand creates the perfect building material for sandcastles, or creating ‘sand-boats’, as well as paddling. In Salcombe, there is also the opportunity to learn to sail, even for absolute beginners, with the ICC Salcombe providing RYA Youth courses for those aged 8 and above, over 3-5 days.
For other sports-seeking youngsters, Stand-Up Paddleboarding is very popular with those who come on holiday. Waterborn Stand-Up Paddleboard Watersports Centre offers the opportunity to try the sport on the Kingsbridge Estuary. Meanwhile the younger children can crab and join later to enjoy a meal at The Crabshell Inn, Kingsbridge, which has a great pizza menu for the family.
Perhaps less well known by visitors are beaches such as Hallsands, Lannacombe and Mattiscombe Sands in Start Bay – small but perfect for sandcastles and swimming. If you’re looking for waves and space, beaches such as South Milton Sands and Bantham have them in abundance, with water sports available through Triocean Surf and Bantham Surfing Academy who hire out all equipment and welcome beginners! As the sun goes down, the perfect end of the day is exploring rock pools and toasting marshmallows over an open wood fire on the beach.
So whether you’re looking for an action-packed day out with the kids or a family trip to the beach, there is something to suit all ages in the South Hams.