Salcombe (population circa 1,900) lies at the southern-most tip of Devon and, due to its breathtaking scenery, wonderful sandy beaches and sheltered sailing opportunities, is one of the principle tourist destinations in the South West.
History of Salcombe in Brief ...
After its first mention in 1244, Salcombe developed primarily as a locale for fishing and smuggling. The population sided with the Royalists during the English Civil War and Fort Charles (originally built for Henry VIII to defend the estuary) became the country’s last Royalist stronghold. It was subsequently razed on orders of parliament and its ruins can still be seen today.
The 1800’s saw commercial growth from the import of tropical fruit, sugar, rum and coconuts. This success was short-lived, however, due to fruit disease and the development of steamships from the 1870’s onwards. Whilst fishing, boat building and repair were to remain important in the short term, it was the growth of leisure sailing and the tourist industry which were to ensure Salcombe’s future economic stability.
It's a Fact !
From smuggling to murder! One of the most notorious cases in British criminal history took place in Salcombe with the disappearance of local woman Patricia Allen and her two children in the mid-1970’s. Her husband, John, was eventually found guilty of her murder some 27 years after the event.
“Sunset and evening star and one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea” From “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred Lord Tennyson believed to have been inspired by the sand bar at the entrance to Salcombe harbour.
Salcombe allegedly has the second highest property prices in the UK outside London (after Sandbanks, Poole) due to its picturesque location and its reputation as being one of the foremost sailing and boating destinations in the country.
Explore Salcombe in South Devon
Salcombe lies at the mouth of the six kilometre long Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary or, better said, ria since it is actually an ancient flooded valley with no significant tributaries. It lies within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is connected to both the National Cycle Network and the South West Coast Path.
Needless to say, the sailing and boating enthusiast is well catered for by a variety of boat hire establishments and facilities, the Salcombe Yacht Club, and the Island Cruising Club whose headquarters is to be found on board a former Mersey ferry permanently moored in the harbour. Power boating, kayaking, windsurfing and scuba diving are also popular. Sandy beaches are plentiful and most can be reached via seasonal ferries running across the estuary to East Portlemouth and to South Sands. A further ferry service connects Salcombe and Kingsbridge. The National Trust’s Overbecks Museum and Garden are to found at Bolt Head and take advantage of the mild climate and headland views.
For those wishing to visit the town in high season, there is a convenient park-and-ride located on the outskirts of town, together with short-stay facilities in the town itself. There is also parking available at North Sands, a comfortable near-level walk away. There is an abundance of clothes shops, galleries and boutiques, together with bistros and restaurants catering for all tastes.