The Great Outdoors
It has been fun exploring new places and revisiting our favourites . . . Dartmouth has lots to offer, so does Kingsbridge. A must do is a visit to Start Point Lighthouse and Beesands, also Gara Rock beach. So, so much, not enough time!
On inspection, the land at Dittiscombe was both vast and beautiful. Perfect to unwind. We visited all of the local tourist spots including Bigbury, Salcombe, Slapton, Kingsbridge and our very favourite, Dartmouth. You cannot fail to be impressed by the amount of things to do and see and in a relatively small area.
We enjoyed a ferry trip to Greenway House, Coleton Fishacre and Darmouth Castle, walking to Beesands and Torcross, the wonderful scenery, the nature reserve at Slapton Ley and sitting in the garden at the end of the day.
Slapton and Torcross: beach and sea one side and nature reserve of Slapton Ley the other. Also at this site the memorial to American soliders killed on training exercise. Don’t miss visit to Salcombe and nearby beaches Thurlestone, Hope Cove.
For an adventurous day trip we thoroughly enjoyed a canoe trip on the beautiful River Dart from Tuckenhay (www.canoeadventures.co.uk).
Bigbury is well worth a visit and the dog walk along Loddiwell railway is stunning. Found it in Toby’s book of walks.
Recently we have had been priviledged to see a rare marine visitor to Start Bay, a Humpback Whale. Crowds have gathered at Slapton Sands, Torcross and Strete Gate to whale watch. We understand that the whale will feed in these colder waters until it is time to move to warmer waters to possibly breed or give birth. March 2017
Walking is a wonderful past-time and we are blessed with a spectacular piece of South West Coast Path (SWCP) from which walkers can drop down to coves and beaches, lighthouses, pubs, cafes, and freshwater lakes. Most of the walks are dog-friendly.
Turn right or left at Slapton Sands (our nearest beach), and you’ll be on the SWCP, a superb stretch of coastline between Salcombe and Dartmouth taking in some of the best in heritage, wildlife, geology and scenery along the way. Memorable stops would be at Hallsands, Start Point, East Prawle, Bolt Head, Hope Cove, Thurlestone, Bantham and Bigbury.
In contrast several pretty green lane walks offer a slow pace and provide a great opportunity to get a close-up, more intimate view of the hedgerows, fields, farms and hamlets which make up a large part of the South Hams. These lanes offer a wonderful way to explore the countryside and provide a haven for plants, birds and other wildlife. Many of the green lanes, originally tracks connecting farms and dating back hundreds of years, have been restored by the local council. Use the free Green Lanes book in your cottage for plenty of choices.
And of course for a walk on the wild side the Dartmoor National Park (approximately 20 miles from Dittiscombe) is the inspiring setting for War Horse, with vast open spaces, woodland walks, rivers and streams, and cycling and horse-riding opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.
Once you have settled into your cottages we suggest two car-free outings: taking time to enjoy a leisurely stroll around the Dittiscombe nature trail, you can discover the woods, stream-fed ponds and open or shady places with benches, picnic tables and bird-viewing areas along the way; a little further afield but also car-free is the 60-minute walk from your cottage door through leafy lanes and farmyard trails to historic Slapton village with its small shop, two excellent dog-friendly pubs, the freshwater lake and nature reserve and the unspoilt beaches of Start Bay. We provide a map and directions for this walk in your cottage.
Rolling hills and steep cliffs are not for everyone, but there really are some easier walks which are accessible to families with small children and people with limited mobility. These few suggestions include cafes, pubs and toilets, but if you would like more information we suggest you contact the local tourist information centres in Kingsbridge and Dartmouth who will be able to give you more detailed information.
Beesands has a car park, seating overlooking the beach, a flat walk by the freshwater lake. You can either walk to Torcross over the rocks and beach at low tide or for those who are able you can join the South West Coast Path to take you ‘over the top’ for magnificent views.
Start Point Lighthouse is a fitting beacon for the most southerly point in Devon. There is a car park with memorable views of Start Bay and a straight metalled road with a slight decline to the Lighthouse.
Bantham and Bigbury beaches are perfect for sandcastle making, surfing, body-boarding, and dog walking. From either car park the beach is accessed over sandy paths to flat, wide beaches far reaching views of Burgh Island. There is a dog ban from May to October but during this time there is access to either side of the beach along the Avon estuary at low tide. There are toilets and dog bins, The Sloop pub and the Gastrobus in Bantham and the Venus Cafe at Bigburgy, all ideal for children and visitors with dogs. Bolberry Down is situated on the coast and has a short tarmac path leading from the large car park to breathtaking views of the coast. Walk length is approx 1 mile and further details can be found on the National Trust website and search for Bolberry Down. There is also the East Soar walk from the National Trust car park, mostly level, to the Walkers Hut for tea and cake (open February to October) and spectacular views of Sharpitor and the Salcombe Estuary above Overbecks.
In Totnes there is an attractive path which runs from Totnes Railway Station to Shinner’s Bridge at Dartington and is suitable for all. Totnes Station path runs alongside the River Dart with interesting wildlife habitats and at Shinner’s Bridge you will find Dartington College of Arts and the complex of Dartington Shops with a cafe and toilets.
Night Skies and Wildlife at Dittiscombe
Our cottages and farmhouse are located at the end of a long lane, surrounded by a private valley, and overlooked by no-one. Guests can enjoy the peace and tranquility on offer here, relaxing in the privacy and seclusion of their beautiful surroundings.
Often a surprise to our guests is the darkness surrounding the cottages at night. We are far enough away from urban lighting to avoid light pollution and we keep our outside lighting to a minimum so that visitors can enjoy stargazing; the number of stars and constellations visible is breathtaking, and we have been lucky enough to see the Milky Way, the Perseid Showers in 2016 and the Blood Moon Eclipse in 2015. Sometimes the beams from the lighthouse at Start Point, which is around 4 miles away as the crow flies, can be seen on a really dark night!
Our tranquil spot and well managed valley means we also have an abundance of wildlife. There is a large network of Devon hedgerows, three ponds and a spring-fed stream, a woodland of mixed deciduous trees, and eight acres of grassland, which provide diverse habitats for a variety of birds and insects. Many previous guests have enjoyed spotting our visiting and resident birds such as skylarks, pied-wagtails, little owl, long-tailed tits, snipe, moorhen, kestrels and sparrowhawks. Birds pop in and out of the cottage gardens as there is cover in hedges and shrubs, and there are always plenty of trees nearby. A little further afield there are various vantage points for birdwatching: around the ponds; in the woodland; or from the flat area which gives a wide view of our u-shaped valley.
Visit our Gardens and Conservation page for more information about conservation at Dittiscombe.
Noise-free kayaking and canoeing
A perfect way to see wildlife from the water is by Kayak or Canoe. We have three beautiful estuaries in this area: the Dart, the Avon and the Erme rivers make their way from Dartmoor and before they reach the sea they slow and widen, making perfect waterways for wildlife exploration and safe kayaking and canoeing. During a paddle down these rivers you could expect to see White Cranes, Herons, Bitterns, and Oystercatchers close up. And the Kingsbridge estuary, which is in fact a flooded valley (a ria), has many creeks and inlets to investigate before arriving at the picturesque harbour of Salcombe. Stand up Paddle Boarding (or SUP as it is known) is a great way to quietly explore the small creeks around Kingsbridge Estuary.
Visit our On the Water page for more information.