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12 of the best days out in the South Hams

best days out in the south hams

Thinking about the best days out in the South Hams

If you are looking for some ideas of the best days out in the South Hams, then this post will give you a great idea of some things to do in this area. Nestled along the breathtaking coastline of South Devon lies the picturesque region of the South Hams, a haven for families seeking memorable adventures amidst stunning natural beauty. With its charming villages, rolling hills, and golden beaches, the South Hams offers loads of thhings to dofor visitors of all ages. From exhilarating outdoor activities to cultural explorations and tranquil moments by the sea, there’s something for everyone.

The South Hams encompasses a stunning stretch of South Devon’s coastline, spanning from the edge of Dartmoor National Park in the north to the vibrant port town of Salcombe in the south. It includes charming towns such as Kingsbridge, Totnes, and Modbury, along with a multitude of quaint villages nestled amidst rolling hills and lush countryside. This picturesque region encompasses an area of outstanding natural beauty, boasting golden sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, and crystal-clear waters of the English Channel. With its diverse landscapes, rich maritime history, and abundance of outdoor activities, the South Hams is a beloved destination for families, nature enthusiasts, and adventurers alike.

Join us on a journey through the best family-friendly attractions and activities the South Hams has to offer, promising unforgettable moments and cherished memories for the whole family to treasure.

The list below contains some great ideas, but they are not in any particular order.


Salcombe Estuary

salcombe estuary

Nestled within the heart of the South Hams, the Salcombe Estuary offers a loads of activities for families seeking a day of exploration and relaxation. Boasting crystal-clear waters and breathtaking scenery, this natural paradise is perfect for water-based adventures. Visitors can hire kayaks or paddleboards to leisurely paddle along the tranquil waters, soaking in panoramic views of lush green hillsides and picturesque villages. For those seeking a bit more thrill, boat trips are available, allowing travelers to discover hidden coves, secret beaches, and wildlife-rich islands dotted along the estuary.

After a day of adventure, families can unwind on the sandy shores of East Portlemouth or North Sands Beach, where children can build sandcastles and splash in the gentle waves. The estuary is also a haven for foodies, with numerous waterfront cafes and restaurants offering delicious seafood dishes and local delicacies. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, the Salcombe Estuary promises a day filled with unforgettable experiences for the whole family.


Dartmouth Castle

dartmouth castle

Perched dramatically on the western bank of the River Dart, Dartmouth Castle stands as a historic landmark offering a fascinating glimpse into the region’s rich heritage. Dating back to the 14th century, this fortress played a crucial role in defending the town and estuary from foreign invasions. Today, visitors can explore the castle’s well-preserved ruins, including its formidable gun batteries, winding passageways, and panoramic viewpoints overlooking the river and coastline.

Guided tours and interactive exhibits provide insight into the castle’s storied past, from medieval battles to Tudor times and beyond. Families can engage in hands-on activities, such as dressing up in period costumes or participating in mock battles, making it an educational and entertaining experience for children of all ages. After exploring the castle, visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the scenic Dartmouth waterfront, dotted with charming cafes, boutique shops, and historic buildings. With its stunning views and rich history, Dartmouth Castle offers one of the best days out in the South Hams.


Burgh Island

burgh island

Perched just off the South Devon coast, Burgh Island is a unique and iconic destination that offers a blend of history, natural beauty, and luxury. Accessible by sea tractor at high tide or on foot via a sandy causeway at low tide, the island boasts a rich history dating back centuries.

Visitors can explore the island’s Art Deco hotel, which has hosted famous guests including Agatha Christie and Winston Churchill, or take a leisurely stroll along its rugged coastline to discover hidden caves and stunning viewpoints overlooking the azure waters of the English Channel.

For a touch of indulgence, families can enjoy a traditional Devonshire cream tea at the island’s elegant hotel or savor a gourmet meal at its renowned restaurant, all while soaking in panoramic views of the surrounding coastline and countryside.


South Devon Steam Railway

south devon steam railway

For a nostalgic journey through South Hams’ scenic countryside, the South Devon Steam Railway offers a delightful steam train experience suitable for the whole family. Departing from the historic town of Buckfastleigh, the heritage railway winds its way through the picturesque Dart Valley, passing by rolling hills, meadows, and woodlands ablaze with wildflowers.

Children will delight in the sights and sounds of the vintage steam locomotives as they chug along the historic track, while parents can relax and enjoy the stunning views from the comfort of beautifully restored carriages. With regular special events such as Thomas the Tank Engine days and steam gala weekends, the South Devon Railway promises a magical journey back in time, evoking the golden age of steam travel for visitors of all ages.


Overbeck’s

palm trees at overbeck's

Overbeck’s is a hidden gem nestled amidst the lush greenery of the South Hams, offering a captivating blend of natural beauty, history, and horticulture. This National Trust property boasts a stunning cliff-top garden overlooking the picturesque Salcombe Estuary, filled with exotic plants, vibrant blooms, and winding pathways waiting to be explored.

Families can wander through terraced gardens adorned with subtropical plants, meander along woodland trails dotted with sculptures and follies, or relax on grassy lawns while taking in panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and coastline. Children will love the interactive play area, where they can climb, explore, and discover hidden secrets tucked away within the garden’s enchanting landscape. Inside the Edwardian house, visitors can delve into the lives of its former residents, admiring an eclectic collection of art, artifacts, and curiosities gathered from around the world.

With its tranquil atmosphere and breathtaking vistas, Overbeck’s offers a peaceful retreat for families seeking to reconnect with nature and history in the heart of the South Hams.


Blackpool Sands

blackpool sands

Blackpool Sands epitomizes the natural beauty and charm of the South Hams, offering families a pristine beach destination with all the amenities for a perfect day out. Nestled within a sheltered bay surrounded by wooded cliffs, this Blue Flag beach boasts soft golden sand and clear turquoise waters ideal for swimming, paddling, and building sandcastles. Families can relax on the beach and soak up the sun, while children can explore rock pools teeming with marine life or enjoy a game of beach volleyball on the dedicated courts.

For those seeking adventure, water sports equipment such as kayaks, paddleboards, and windsurfing gear are available for hire, allowing visitors to explore the bay from a different perspective. When hunger strikes, families can dine al fresco at the beachside café, which serves up a delicious selection of locally sourced seafood, snacks, and refreshments. With its pristine beauty and family-friendly amenities, Blackpool Sands is the perfect destination for a fun-filled day by the sea in the South Hams.


Dartington Hall

dartington hall

Dartington Hall stands as a historic treasure amidst the rolling countryside of the South Hams, offering families a unique blend of heritage, culture, and natural beauty. This medieval manor house, set within 1,200 acres of stunning grounds, provides a picturesque backdrop for exploration and relaxation. Families can wander through tranquil gardens filled with colorful blooms, ancient trees, and sculptural installations, or explore the historic buildings and courtyards steeped in centuries of history.

Children can unleash their imagination at the outdoor play area, complete with climbing frames and swings, while parents can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the River Dart or browse the artisan shops and galleries dotted around the estate. With regular events, workshops, and performances throughout the year, including music festivals, craft fairs, and outdoor theater productions, Dartington Hall offers a vibrant cultural hub for families to enjoy in the heart of the South Hams.


Start Point Lighthouse

start point lighthouse

Perched dramatically atop rugged cliffs overlooking Start Bay, Start Point Lighthouse offers families a unique opportunity to explore a historic maritime landmark while soaking in breathtaking coastal vistas. Dating back to 1836, this iconic lighthouse stands as a beacon of safety for sailors navigating the treacherous waters along the South Devon coastline. Visitors can embark on guided tours of the lighthouse, climbing its winding staircase to reach the lantern room and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding coastline and sea.

Children will delight in learning about the lighthouse’s fascinating history and the lives of its former keepers through interactive exhibits and displays. After exploring the lighthouse, families can take a leisurely stroll along the scenic coastal path, spotting seabirds, seals, and other wildlife along the way. With its stunning views and rich maritime heritage, Start Point Lighthouse promises an unforgettable family adventure in the heart of the South Hams.



Slapton Sands

slapton sands

Slapton Sands is a picturesque stretch of coastline nestled within the South Hams, offering families a tranquil retreat with stunning views and plenty of seaside activities. This long shingle beach is bordered by crystal-clear waters, making it an ideal spot for swimming, paddling, and beachcombing. Families can enjoy leisurely walks along the shoreline, taking in panoramic views of Start Bay and the surrounding countryside, or relax on the beach and soak up the sun while children build sandcastles and explore rock pools.

Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the diverse birdlife and marine habitats found in the nearby Slapton Ley Nature Reserve, where guided walks and wildlife-watching opportunities abound. With its unspoiled beauty and peaceful atmosphere, Slapton Sands provides the perfect backdrop for a day of relaxation and exploration for families visiting the South Hams.


Totnes Castle

totnes castle

Perched high above the historic market town of Totnes, Totnes Castle offers families a fascinating glimpse into the region’s medieval past and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Dating back to the 11th century, this Norman motte-and-bailey castle boasts well-preserved fortifications, including a stone keep, curtain walls, and defensive towers. Visitors can explore the castle’s historic features, climb to the top of the keep for commanding views of the River Dart and town below, and imagine life within its walls during medieval times.

Children can participate in interactive activities and educational exhibits, learning about the castle’s strategic importance and the lives of its former residents. After exploring the castle, families can wander through Totnes’ charming streets, lined with independent shops, cafes, and historic buildings, creating lasting memories of their visit to this enchanting corner of the South Hams.


Agatha Christie’s Greenway

Greenway

Set along the tranquil banks of the River Dart, Greenway Estate offers families a glimpse into the private world of renowned author Agatha Christie. This National Trust property, nestled within the lush countryside of the South Hams, features a stunning Georgian mansion surrounded by extensive gardens, woodlands, and breathtaking views of the river and countryside beyond. Families can explore the elegant rooms of the house, which have been preserved much as they were during Christie’s time, filled with fascinating artifacts, original furnishings, and personal mementos belonging to the famous crime writer.

Outside, children can enjoy garden games, nature trails, and picnics on the expansive lawns, while parents can meander through the idyllic gardens, bursting with colorful blooms and hidden pathways waiting to be discovered. With its rich history, literary connections, and scenic beauty, Greenway Estate offers a captivating day out for families eager to immerse themselves in the charm and mystery of Agatha Christie’s world.


Coleton Fishacre

coleton fishacre

Coleton Fishacre is a captivating country estate nestled on the cliffs above the picturesque coastline of the South Hams. Managed by the National Trust, this Art Deco-inspired property offers families a unique blend of architectural splendor, tranquil gardens, and breathtaking sea views. Visitors can explore the elegant rooms of the house, adorned with period furnishings, stylish decor, and original artworks, providing a glimpse into the glamorous lifestyle of its former owners.

Outside, families can wander through the beautifully landscaped gardens, which feature exotic plants, winding paths, and secluded terraces overlooking the sea. Children can let their imagination run wild in the enchanting play area, which includes a wooden pirate ship and adventure trail nestled within the woodland. With its combination of history, natural beauty, and family-friendly amenities, Coleton Fishacre promises a memorable day out for families seeking to immerse themselves in the charm of the South Hams.


“Circular Walks in the South Hams: Walking and Exploring South Devon” offers a delightful exploration of South Devon’s scenic beauty through a collection of circular walks. This guidebook, with its revised edition, provides detailed routes, captivating descriptions, and insights into the natural landscapes and historical sites of the South Hams region, making it a perfect companion for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

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walks in the south hams

I hope that this list of the best days out in the South Hams is helpful and while you are in the area, don’t forger to check out some of the prettiest villages and some of the best local views too.

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