NATURAL HARBOURS, GOLDEN BEACHES AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN…
Devon offers unrivalled romance, dining and adventures for couples deciding on a staycation honeymoon in the UK. Bunk in or near Plymouth – Britain’s answer to a cosmopolitan city by the sea…
CARSWELL FARM COTTAGES, PLYMOUTH, DEVON
In the heart of the South Hams in Devon, spread out over four miles along the coastal path, Carswell Farm is surrounded by unspoilt countryside and the coastal path is right on the doorstep, providing stunning walks that lead to quiet beaches and picturesque villages.
Carswell Farm is made up of three farms – Carswell, Lambside and Caulston stretching for nearly three miles along the coastal road between Plymouth and Kingsbridge. There are eight cottages in total spread out across the farms, including the stunning Beach Hut which sits on a cove, sleeps two people and is only accessible by foot.
We stayed at Lambside House, a former ‘Gentleman’s Residence’ which hosted shooting parties for the landed gentry in years gone by, and still has everything of a party feel about it, including access to a secluded beach. Affable chickens greet you as you pull up on the grounds. Officially sleeping 14, with kids you can host up to 17 guests in five period feature rooms. There are two king-sized rooms (go for the one with the humungous en-suite bathroom if you’re the bride and groom, for sure), two twin rooms and one room with bunk beds and a single bed. All the cottages flourish with rustic décor, wood burners and sumptuous beds. Plenty of the kitchen’s treats come straight from the gardens too which double up as sizeable play areas. A famous organic beef and lamb farm for hundreds of years, you can see barn owls hunting for food on walks down Farm Lane and rare Falcons nesting on the cliff. You get your own private country lane at Lambside, the perfect find for brides looking to accommodate weddings guests during Devonshire nuptials, or wishing to go for a Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux style friend-moon/ family moon. Situated in a pretty and peaceful village, you get to retire after a day of beach-walking and adventures in Plymouth into one of two open plan large and airy living rooms decorated in muted creams and warm woods along with a wood-burning stove. The games room has a pool table, children’s toys and a piano and the kitchen has a pre-requisite Aga. Outside there’s a big enough garden for a small wedding-party to enjoy fun barbecues and lawn games. 01752830020, Sleeps: 2-14, From £330 per week
These stylish and airy apartments sit in the middle of Plymouth and feature dark wood floors, high ceilings and four large bedrooms. You’ll find power showers in the bathrooms, wifi, and on-site parking with cool views across the picturesque harbour. Our apartment made an unbeatable base for heading to down to walk along Plymouth Hoe, where we made like The Beatles (they famously did a pit-stop here during their Magical Mystery Tour). After some ship watching and history lessons on The Mayflower, we visit Plymouth Gin for a brilliant tour of the distillery. We manage to pack lots in during the day, so movie nights during the evening atop crisp white sheets and cloud-soft beds are a welcome retreat. Stay at Strathmore Apartments, www.strathmorehouse.co.uk,
Of course, seafood’s the ‘in’ thing now for gastronomic hotspot of Plymouth. Here’s our pick of the best:
Rockfish gets its tentacles right inside you with proud menus offering catch of the day from local boats and tastebud-tingling fish and chips. The famous Plymouth Fish Market is just steps away so you can literally watch boats pulling up with your dinner and have it delivered freshly cooked to your table within minutes. We couldn’t get enough of the addictive calamari, followed by a perfectly juicy and chargrilled monkfish dinner. We had huge amounts of fun watching the open kitchen and reading the specials menu too. The bonus is that the entire menu is now also gluten free. Sunset views of the harbour with cocktail in hand, made it the perfect setting for an evening of newlywed bliss. The interiors are centred around a chalky palette of blues, greens, fishing ropes (naturally) and reclaimed wooden boards to resemble a lively but laid-back beach shack vibe. RockFish, Plymouth: 01752 255974.
Plymouth Boathouse is an unpretentious but still uber trendy eaterie with ocean-fresh, fisherman’s catches on the menu. Set up by Ben Squire, the building is a restored old fisherman’s hut and the restaurant uses sustainable fishing methods aimed at safeguarding future fish stocks. We had a long, gorgeous lunch filling our bellies with oysters galore and giant shrimp while looking out onto the historic Mayflower steps. The chefs cooked our white bait, gurnard and sea bass to perfection and the prices were so affordable, like us, you’ll decide to dine here every lunchtime for the duration of your stay. We would have happily have eaten here for every single meal. The mackerel was a proper winner, especially when washed back with a glass of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. There are also local craft beers and a mini ice cream parlour you won’t want to miss on site.
Adventures in love…
NATIONAL MARINE AQAURIUM
One of Plymouth’s headliners is the UK’s biggest aquarium – an entirely self-funded conservation enterprise – situated on the marina and which features an epic shark tunnel and equally impressive sting-ray tank. www.national-aquarium.co.uk
PLYMOUTH BOAT TRIPS
Choose from either cook-your-catch excursions or a three hour long deep sea diving expedition to gain knowledge on the local marine environment and explore the ocean. Return to The Boathouse café afterwards where staff will fillet then cook your catch straight off the boat. www.fishntrips.co.uk, www.plymouth boattrips.co.uk
DARTMOOR NATIONAL PARK & DARTMOOR ZOOLOGICAL PARK
Unlike other heavily built-up zoos, this feels more like a soul-stirring walk through Dartmoor National Park only with lions, bears, tigers and jaguars thrown in for company. The large enclosures work in harmony with the beautiful grasslands and granite landscapes of the rugged and beautiful national park. We visit on an idyllic sun-soaked afternoon, taking a hand-held walk through a mini-field reserved for wallabies who hop gently around us. It’s all pretty magical. The Café serves lovely lunches and offers more learning on the conservation work at the wildest, most rugged and natural setting zoo in the UK. Book to meet with Benjamin Mee, the owner of the zoo and who lives on site with his family. His story of rescuing the crumbling zoo after he became both a widower and single father inspired the movie ‘We Bought A Zoo’ starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johanssen. It’s based on his best-selling memoir and is one of the sweetest books you’ll read – pack a copy in your suitcase. Dartmoor Zoological Park
NATIONAL TRUST BEACHES
Devon has the cleanest beaches in Britain and the waves gently lap around your ankles at Wembury – a tranquil spot for exploring the great outdoors, crags and dramatic cliffs. Surfing is big here too with waves of up to 10ft to ride. Expect seaside adventures and clotted cream ice creams galore when you sneak out of the cottage and head to South Milton Sands. Climb the rocks or take surfing lessons. Two nearby villages at either end of a walk around South Milton Sands offer pubs. www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Recreate those teenagers-in-love emotions by braving the rollercoasters and fairground games together before sharing candy floss and ice cream at Crealy Great Adventure Park