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Archive for October, 2009

The question from a friend:

re: honeymoon suggestions.  we’re looking at 4 nights away mid-week, late Autumn in Devon and Cornwall (perhaps Dorset, too).  open to suggestions on location.

Well, here are our suggestions, starting with a place where one of our co-founders took his honeymoon.  Note: over the past year and a half, we’ve spent most of our time travelling around the South West so the recommendations come from personal knowledge.  There are dozens of other suggestions but we’ve avoided these owing to potential noise (eg Brixham on the English Riviera) or because the locations were too dependent on the weather.  Every place on the list is stunning and Romantic in the old fashioned sense of the word.

1. Burgh Island – a tidal island in the South Devon AONB (basically, landscape as beautiful as a National Park) accessible by sea tractor when water’s high and by foot across a very nice beach when low.  There’s a very famous hotel on the island (setting for Agatha Christie novels, bolt hole for the very famous, price tag included) and a great pub.  Bigbury-on-Sea beach runs into the spectacular Bantham Beach.  Endless walking east, west and inland.  Salcombe close by.

2. Padstow/Rock – we’re talking about the Camel Estuary basically (eg Rock Beach and Harbour and Hawkers Cove Beach).  Miles of blond sand on either bank and walks along the Atlantic coast.  Padstow’s compact, has a wide range of high quality restaurants and pubs.   Can’t really go wrong here.

3. St Mawes – bottom right hand corner of Cornwall across the water from Falmouth.  Magnificent place.  Walking, boat trips, restaurants, pubs.  The area’s quite wooded, too, so plenty of Autumnal blaze.

4. St Ives Bay – probably St Ives itself at the southern end of the bay which positions itself as one of the world’s most beautiful.  There’s a vast arc of sand for walking or horse riding.  St Ives itself abounds with cosy pubs.  Masses to do in the area as well if the weather misbehaves, eg Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

5. Sennen Cove – tricky one, this.  In good weather, it’s beautiful and romantic and among the most exceptional locations we’ve seen within the UK.  It has the pub and restaurant and walks you’d be looking for and Land’s End is close by but it is small and when the clouds are out, the magic disappears.

6. Fowey – built into the side of a hill overlooking a gorgeous estuary, it competes with any location in the South West for beauty, local walks, boat trips, boozers and restaurants.  Eden Project up the road btw.

7. Salcombe – Salcombe for food, pubs, the cosy fire.  The Salcombe/Kinsbridge Estuary for walks, boat trips and amazing beauty.  Well-heeled.  Plenty to do as well including a dramatic National Trust garden called Overbecks.

8. Dartmouth – busier and larger than Salcombe but with the same draw.  Exceptional beauty, exceptional range of places to eat and drink.  Very well-heeled.  One of the best around for people watching.  You could spend four days without shifting from the town but if you headed south, there’s an awesome stretch of coast from Blackpool Sands via Slapton Sands to Start Point.

9. Beer– this one’s a bit like Sennen above.  It’s unqiue and romantic with a vibe of its own but it’s small and if the weather turns …

10.  Others – there are plenty of other options.  Porthleven, Looe, Lynmouth and Lynton, Mortehoe all meet the criteria but you might also want to head inland to Dartmoor or Exmoor.  The wooded valleys around the edge of the moors are special in Autumn but, again, if you’re pre-booking by weeks and can’t estimate the weather then you could get stuck in the mist.  Dartmoor, for example, has some seriously luxurious hotels (Gidleigh Park and Bovey Castle) around Chagford and the place is a dream.  There’s the Tamar Valley as well which is a heavily wooded area above Plymouth that’s ablaze at this time of year. 

Last, try Dorset as well.  We’d head for Lyme Regis, West Bay or Corfe Castle.  Lyme Regis is a peach of a place.  Plenty of beaches and coastal walking, restaurants and pubs.  West Bay is smaller but equally as beautiful with the coastal walking here being among the best in the South West.  Corfe Castle is compact and a great base from which to enjoy the Isle of Purbeck which has exceptional walking and coastline.

Update: March 2010

We’re currently adding many new ‘Top 10’ recommendations for places in which to honeymoon across the UK.  We’ll update here as we go along but here’s an example of the format we’ll follow for Cornwall:

Top 10 Honeymoon Locations in Cornwall

Top 10 Honeymoon Locations in Devon

Top 10 Honeymoon Locations in the South West

Top 10 Honeymoon Locations in Dorset

Lists for Devon, Dorset, The South West region etc to come.

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Come June, the roads in Devon begin to clog up.  The steady flow of traffic to/ from Devon and Cornwall continues until September and then the traffic thins out once again.  And?  Well, it’s a fantastic time to take advantage of the relative peace and quiet to experience the county and, to help, here are our top ten recommendations of things to do in Devon this autumn:

1. Walk the valleys and cleaves around the edge of Dartmoor National ParkDartmoor has a reputation for being a bit on the bleak side.  In parts, this is true, but to see a very different Dartmoor, head to the Teign Gorge or Lustleigh Cleave or Belstone Cleave.  These are heavily wooded areas with steep hillsides and clearly the colours come out at this time of year.

2. Make the most the empty(ish) beaches – the beaches of the South Devon AONB, North Devon AONB and East Devon AONB get seriously crowded in the summer months.  In Autumn, you get more space.  Try Slapton Sands or Bantham Beach in the south, Putsborough Sand or Saunton Sands in the north, Sidmouth (Jacob’s Ladder) Beach or Ladram Bay Beach to the east.

3. If it’s raining, go to a gorge – the best, in our opinion, being the National Trust’s Lydford Gorge and Waterfall.

4. Spend some time in a cave – Devon, fortunately, has a world class cave at Kents Cavern.  Grab a guided tour in the UK’s ‘oldest home’.  Utterly fascinating stuff.  Remember too, that this cave is part of the world’s first urban ‘Geopark’: The English Riviera Geopark.

5. Look up in a cathedral – Exeter Cathedral, to be precise.  We spend our lives bumbling around the UK and the vaulting in this catehdral is as good as any we’ve seen.

6. Walk the Jurassic Coast – if you head to Exmouth, you can start exploring the Jurassic Coast via the South West Coast Path.  The red cliffs are exceptional against autumnal colours.

7. Head off to the Hartland Peninsula –  Why?  Beacuse the coastline here can get very woody which means colour.  Try the walks around Clovelly.

8. Climb Smeaton’s Tower Plymouth is an amazing place.  The Pilgrim Fathers journeyed to America from here and Drake set sail about fifty years before.  Climb Smeaton’s Tower and the history and natural beauty around you are first class.

9. Yomp The English Riviera – we think the Riviera is one of the finest destinations in the UK, let alone Devon.  It came as a big surprise to us given all the bad press the area gets but we’d urge you to try it out for a weekend to see for yourself.

10. Head to Exmoor National Park – steep wooded valleys, high cliffs plunging into the sea, the National Park is made for Autumn frankly.

Devon’s massive and this top 10 could quite easily be turned into a top 100 things to do in Autumn.  There’s the Tamar AONB which is glorious at this time of year and the Blackdown Hills AONB which is relatively unknown but a cracker, too.   You can explore plenty of other options here and we’re still piling on the content for the county with the help of local experts so all suggestions are welcome.  Post comments below or @picturetheuk on Twitter.  Enjoy!

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Top 10 beaches in South Devon

South Devon is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  In 2009, we walked, researched and photographed its coastline from Plymouth all the way around to The English Riviera.  The walk, on the South West Coast Path, takes one through some of Devon’s most popular destinations including Salcombe and Dartmouth.  It also takes one past some of the UK’s best beaches.  We list lots of things to do and see in the area here but if you’re looking for South Devon’s top 10 beaches then these are our recommendations:

1. Mill Bay Beach – an idyllic sandy beach close to East Portlemouth Beaches with exceptional views across to Salcombe.  It’s National Trust and there’s parking behind the beach but it’s easier to park in Salcombe itself and take a boat across the water and then walk to the beach.

2. Blackpool Sands – if you’ve glanced at any promotional material for beaches in South Devon then you’ll no doubt have seen this beach already.  A perfect arc of shingle set againt a blue sea and lush Devon hills.  Lots of parking and plenty of facilities on the beach.

3. Bantham Beach – this was our favourite discovery during the walk around the South Devon coastline.  Across the water from Bigbury-on-Sea Beach, it’s a favourite among surfers.  When the tide’s out, there’s loads of sand and good walking inland via the River Avon.  The beach has a great vibe to it.

4. Bigbury-on-Sea Beach – possibly the best known beach in South Devon connecting the mainland with Burgh Island

5. Slapton Sands – one of many shingle beaches running along the coastline at Start Bay.

6. South Sands – as beaches go, this one’s a tiddler but it has awesome views of the Salcombe Kingsbridge Estuary and Overbeck’s Garden and Museum are nearby.  There’s parking behind the beach but by far and away the best way to arrive is by boat and then sea tractor!

7. Hope Cove Harbour Beach – one of several sandy beaches in the area, the harbour beach is nestled behind a vast harbour wall and the setting is extraordinary.

8. South Milton Sands – not particularly well know but a cracking sandy beach owned by the National Trust.

9. Thurlestone Beach – an intimate, family beach close to South Milton Sands.

10. The English Riviera Beaches (Broadsands Beach, Goodrington Sands, Paignton Beach, Meadfoot Beach, Babbacombe Beach and Oddicombe Beach)

There are plenty more magnificent beahces in the area so if we’ve missed your favourite or there’s one you want to shout about then pls add comments here or @picturetheuk on Twitter.

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