Shaugh Prior is a quiet village in a fantastic position, with the moors literally on your doorstep, but also numerous south coast beaches within easy reach.
About Shaugh Prior
Shaugh Prior is a quiet village situated on the south western fringe of Dartmoor National Park, sandwiched between the white China Clay pits of Lee Moor and the picturesque Dewerstone Rock. It's in a fantastic position with the moors literally on your doorstep, but also numerous south coast beaches within easy reach.
As Shaugh Prior lies within the National Park, you’ll be treated to Dartmoor ponies, sheep and cattle freely roaming the streets. The village itself has a lively pub, but if you want a taste of town life during your stay, then Plymouth is close by with numerous attractions including the National Marine Aquarium and Plymouth Hoe.
If, instead, you’d prefer to be immersed in more traditional Dartmoor life, then visit nearby Tavistock, a thriving market town on the western side of the moors, or head east across Dartmoor to explore the quaint villages such as Widecombe in the Moor, with its traditional and popular Dartmoor pub, the Rugglestone Inn.
The higher parts of the parish of Shaugh Prior are literally brimming with Bronze Age monuments, so make sure you take a walk from Shaugh Bridge by the river, up towards the Dewerstone. You’ll get spectacular views and will find intriguing evidence along the way of the tin mining industry which once thrived here.
Nearby, the Burrator Reservoir is certainly worth a visit and if you fancy a picnic by the river, Cadover Bridge is a popular spot. And if you’re lucky, the ice cream van might even be there! If you fancy a day out with the family, then Buckland Abbey and Dartmoor Zoo are both easily accessible from Shaugh Prior, as are several beautiful beaches on the south coast, including Bovisand Beach and Wembury.
A holiday cottage in Shaugh Prior offers a peaceful Dartmoor retreat, near to the maritime city of Plymouth and numerous beaches on the beautiful south west coast
Dartmoor Zoological Park is a 30-acre zoological garden located near the village of Sparkwell, on the south-west edge of Dartmoor. It was the subject of the book and hollywood film We Bought a Zoo, which has gained the Zoo world wide fame. However the personal charm and up-close feel to the whole park has not disappeared.
While skiing probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a holiday in South Devon, Plymouth Ski Slope & Snowboard Centre is a large leisure facility and dry ski slope that’s the perfect rainy day activity should you need one. Offering skiing, snowboarding, toboggan and sno-tube downhill fun, and of course parties for birthdays and special occasions, it’s a family friendly experience that adults can enjoy as well. They offer kids adventure days including lessons, lunch and treasure hunts during peak season, and they also offer special functions to really give that ski holiday experience in their Alpine Lodge with its panoramic views of the River Plym! Equipment is available for hire and prices start at £8 for children and £15 for adults.
Surrounded by tranquil gardens and historic parkland, Saltram is a Georgian country house overlooking the River Plym, with views across rolling landscapes and an abundance of green space. The house was home to the Parker family from 1743, and was designed to show their increasingly prominent status – which is partially why it’s filled with paintings by the likes of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Happily, for us however, that has made for a wonderful environment in which to explore history, wander around the rhododendrons and camellias in the garden, and discover seasonal exhibitions, events and activities for the whole family. Prices start at £10.70 for adults and £5.30 for children in peak season, however opening hours and prices vary throughout the year. There is also a £3 charge for the car park.
On an industrial estate close to Plymouth, Plymouth Karting is the ultimate playground for grown ups and nearly grown ups complete with indoor and outdoor karting, combat gaming and laser tag. This is your chance to get involved with the latest in motor-sports with features including challenging circuits, separate adult and children or family sessions, a coffee lounge and spectator area, LCD screening to detail scoring, washroom facilities and free parking, and exclusive booking for birthdays and special events available. You can just turn up but it’s advisable to phone ahead to check availability, particularly in larger groups. All equipment, clothing and safety information is provided but do wear trainers rather than flip-flops or sandals, and remember that children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is the Nation’s largest aquarium as well as being a charity organisation, and as such has an extremely exciting and prevalent role to play in driving marine conservation. Alongside the tourist attraction they run learning programmes for more than 30,000 children each year, have a consultancy branch and host events from weddings to birthdays and corporate functions as well. While you’re on holiday in South Devon, however, you will be more interested to know that this underwater world of discovery has the largest native exhibition in the UK exploring all the fish you have heard of and rarer varieties as well. In addition to British beauties there’s an Atlantic Ocean tank with large Nurse Sharks, sand tiger sharks and lemon sharks as well as ray and clownfish. The Aquarium has a café on site, is open daily, and has a variety of ticket types available for families, students and senior citizens.
A traditional pub surrounded by beautiful Dartmoor scenery with a well-stocked, comfortable bar and large rear garden. The menu has a Mediterranean feel and makes use of the wealth of quality ingredients the surrounding area has to offer.
A traditional 18th century Dartmoor inn with friendly staff and plenty of atmosphere serving home cooked dishes using locally sourced Dartmoor produce. A great stop off whilst enjoying some of the wonderful walks in the area.
A friendly café in the centre of Princetown with plenty of outdoor seating, cosy sofas and wood burners. Serves healthy lunches, snacks and cream teas all sourced from local suppliers. Dogs, children, muddy boots and bicycles all welcome!
Fox Tor Café2 Two Bridges Road, Princetown, Dartmoor PL20 6QS (T: 01822 890238)
One of South Devon’s quieter beaches, Mothecombe is a large and unspoiled, privately owned stretch of sand that’s open every day, all year round. Having won an award from the Marine Conservation Society for its clean sea and sand, you can be assured that relaxing here and pottering about in the water is going to be a happy, healthy and pleasant experience for all in this sheltered corner of Devon. For those wanting to try out water sports, Mothecombe offers the ideal conditions for windsurfing, kayaking, body boarding and generally enjoying the water, particularly for beginners as it’s a comparatively gentle environment in which to give it a go. Given its pristine nature, it will probably come as no surprise that dogs are not allowed on the beach in high season, so keep an eye out for signs for more information, but best to steer clear with furry friends from May to September. There is a car park from which you can access the beach down a narrow path, so it’s not ideal for wheelchair users, but is otherwise conveniently close by. There’s also a tea house in the car park for drinks and snacks and there are toilets nearby as well, so pending the tides you can spend a good day here enjoying the natural scenery and all the fun that it brings with it, whether that’s for the whole family, on a romantic afternoon in the summer sun, or simply enjoying the peace and quiet of this less populated park of the coastline.
In an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Wonwell is a sandy beach on the east shore of the Erme river which joins Mothecombe at low tide. It affords visitors a large expanse to explore and is accessed via a woodland path from the road which takes about 10 minutes.
Alternatively, there is a slipway from the road to the shore of the river and at low tide you can walk along the edge to the beach itself, so make sure you get your timings right to make the most of this one.
Parking is limited at Wonwell Beach so keep that in mind when you’re heading over. Road parking allows for around 20 cars depending on their size and there aren’t really any facilities around, although there are toilets nearby. This does mean you need to be prepared if you’re heading there for the best part of the day, but also makes for a very peaceful experience whether it’s lounging about on the sand with a picnic in the summer, or a stroll in the cooler months, simply taking in the atmosphere.
Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round so it’s the perfect place to take them for a run around. Something to be careful of – do keep an eye on the tide to avoid getting cut off when it comes in and getting very wet en route back to dry land!
Roughly one kilometre (20 minutes depending on your pace) from the National Trust car park at Ringmore, and with a selection of footpaths to get to it, Ayrmer Cove is a quiet secluded beach on the South West Coast Path.
For anyone on holiday in South Devon it’s a peaceful place to sit and contemplate the natural scenery amongst the shingle, pebbles and rock pools, admiring the cliffs. It makes for a beautiful destination to walk to from Ringmore itself, which is a small village (population 230) with views towards the cove itself as well as Bigbury Bay – it makes for a wonderful holiday cottage destination in South Devon as well as a place to visit as part of your day.
Walking to the beach allows you to discover the surrounding woodland, wildlife and history of the area – taking in old smugglers’ routes and hedgerows that have been in situ since the 1800s.
It is a little tricky to get to so it’s not ideal for wheelchairs, and there aren’t any toilets or facilities at the beach itself so if you want to stay for a little while don’t forget to take snacks or a picnic if the weather is right. This is all about enjoying the environment that’s such a proud part of the National Trust – it’s everything a holiday in Devon is about, and yes, dogs are permitted all year round and will very much enjoy the walk!
Close to Kingsbridge, Challaborough Bay is a sandy beach in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that’s perfect for enjoying all the seaside activities nature can afford.
At low tide the beach is ideal for visiting families to build sandcastles and explore the rock pools, while the swells and shore breaks also attract surfers and bodyboarders. There are some beautiful walks along the coast path that surrounds it, heading towards Bigbury on Sea in particular.
Making it an ideal spot to spend the day, the beach has toilets, a café and a beach shop close by, although access is via steps and small paths so accessibility isn’t wheelchair friendly. There is a car park but it’s rather small, so it’s good to know that a 15-minute walk to Bigbury will see ample parking available – seasonal charges apply so remember to bring cash with you.
While four legged friends are welcome in the winter, they are not allowed on the beach between May and September, so do plan their walks with that in mind. It’s a lovely spot along the coast path to bring them to, you can even beach hop from one to the next!
At the mouth of the Avon River, Bantham beach is easy to reach from Salcombe, Kingsbridge and our other favourite holiday home locations, as well as being a beautiful area to stay in its own right.
The beach looks out over Bigbury Bay and offers a wonderful view of Burgh Island, which is famous for its art deco hotel of the same name that has hosted Agatha Christie and Noel Coward amongst its illustrious guests an can reach by sea tractor.
Bantham beach has a popular reputation amongst both novice and advanced surfers, and as such there are lessons available from the Bantham Surfing Academy, which operates from the beach. They also offer other water sports including paddle boarding, and a day pottering up the Avon River on one of those when the tide is right, is a day well spent.
When the tide is out at Bantham the sandy beach reveals rock pools and great swathes of space so you can happily set up a picnic and stay there for the whole day. If the mood strikes, why not walk along the coast path towards Thurlestone around the corner, and South Milton Sands beyond that, particularly as it’s also a popular beach for dog owners? Just keep in mind that from 1st May until 30th September restrictions apply, so look out for signposts with more information.
If you’re spending the whole day on the beach it’s worth popping to the Gastrobus which is open seasonally in the car park, offering everything from freshly made baps to coffees, teas and cakes, or for a larger meal head the short walking distance to The Sloop Inn gastropub.
There is plenty of parking available by Bantham, with charges from £3.50 per day, so make sure you have change on you as it’s a bit tricky to find parking otherwise. There are toilets in the car park, and from May to October from 10am until 6pm there is also lifeguard cover on the beach. All in, Bantham has something to offer everyone throughout the year and is one of many beautiful locations to spend time while you’re in South Devon.