Devon’s southernmost harbour, Salcombe has it all for the weary walker: tranquil scenery, cosmopolitan facilities that earn it the ‘Kensington on Sea’ tag, and a rich maritime history. As such is a great choice (along with Dartmouth) for a rest day on this section of coastline. The scenery from the town, as it clings to the steep wooded hillside, is superb, looking across shimmering waters edged by jagged rocky coves and golden sands.
The climate here is amongst the best in the UK, as evidenced in the lemon trees which grow here, a link to the town’s fruit importing past which specialised in building and harbouring fast sailing schooners. In their heyday over 100 made lightning runs to the Mediterranean and Caribbean, returning laden with fruit to be landed quickly whilst still fresh.
Today’s modern seafaring visitors arrive in luxury yachts with rather less adventure and speed than the sailors of old, but they have brought with them an impressive array of smart cafes, delicatessens, sailing shops and quality restaurants. If you can book early enough, the annual August regatta is an event with history back 150 years, and during this lively spectacle the whole town comes to life. If you miss this, you can catch some of the flavour in the towns superb Maritime Museum which has models of the old Schooners along with various treasures brought in from the wrecks off nearby Bolt Head. In between the impressive waterfront houses the historical past remains with The Old Watch House and the Custom House still standing guard.
For those on a rest day consider renting a boat to explore the coves and inlets, or if you want to be tutored in the art of sailing this is the place to try it. On the other hand, if you prefer to let others take the wheel you can just amble around the natural harbour on the ferries that run to the beaches at East Portlemouth.
Above the coast path and just before arriving in the town check out Overbecks, a large Edwardian villa and gardens open to public - former home of Otto Overbeck and his bizarre collection of stuffed animals, gadgets and other oddities which include a 19th century jukebox. Otto himself was an eccentric inventor who believed that everyone could live to the age of 350. His gardens are still alive and well and if you wander round them you will find fantastic subtropical vegetation planted high above the pretty steep sided town.