Mill Bay Salcombe, South Devon

Mill Bay, opposite Salcombe

Picture this . . . a warm, sunny evening and you have a beautiful sun-lit beach all to yourself. You’ve walked through soft, dry sand to be closer to the sea and the cooling breeze. You are sitting on a picnic blanket on perfect sand-castle sand, with your basket of fresh bread, regional cheese, some garden-grown strawberries bought off a stall in a near-by village and a bottle of locally brewed beer.

After a picnic tea, you decide to walk across the sand to explore a little cove, paddling through a fresh water stream and listening to the laughter of the crew of a gig who are taking a refreshing dip in the sea after their hard work rowing up and down the estuary. The sandy cove feels likes a secret world with enclosing cliffs topped with the verdant Atlantic oak woodland, and you find a crystal clear rock pool with darting small fish and many-hued wafting seaweed…

Seems too good to be true? Well, this was the evening that Ela, Benjamin, Charlie dog and I had in the middle of a sunny Summer week this year. Baby-friendly, dog-friendly, relaxing, beautiful – a memorable evening on the coast of the South Hams in Devon. And this is what holidaying at home can be all about. We continue to hear about the stresses and disappointments people are enduring as a result of unprocessed passports and the furore created by subsequent comments from the Tourism Minister that, “there’s a lot to be said for a ‘staycation’.” However, a UK-based holiday should not be seen or promoted as a second-best alternative solution to administrative backlogs, but as a fantastic option in its own right.

Start Bay Information BoardJulie, baby Benjamin, Charlie dog and Ela went to Mill Bay at East Portlemouth at 6pm, so the National Trust car park was free, otherwise it would have been £7.50. There are toilets there, including disabled facilities. During the Summer holidays you can avoid the crowds by using the park and ride in Salcombe and have the thrill of riding on the small passenger ferry across the estuary. There is also a lovely circular walk to Gara Rock from the car park, through the woods following the coast with some other little coves to explore as you go along.

Dittiscombe Holiday Cottages is a 30 minute drive from Mill Bay – 6 cosy dog and family friendly cottages set in a 20 acre valley close to Slapton village and Start Bay. For more information about local beaches read our Beaches page or visit: