Nestled amongst the South Devon Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) is the small market town of Kingsbridge. The town of Kingsbridge is surrounded by acres of rich green land, and also lies on the Kingsbridge Estuary. Its proximity to both land and water makes this town a popular hotspot for hikers, ramblers, sailors and surfers alike.
Kingsbridge is the perfect place to base your self on a South Devon holiday. Not only are you in the South Devon Area of Natural Beauty itself but you are also extremely close to the South West Coast Path, which means lots of walking routes to choose from.
On top of that, you are close to so many beautiful beaches, such as that of Salcombe, Bantham and South Sands. This means lots of opportunities to get involved in watersports like Stand-Up Paddleboarding, Kayaking and Sailing.
In Kingsbridge itself, you have ample opportunity to soak up some of the local cultures. Such as enjoying local produce in the restaurants and cafes, learning about local creators in the art gallery and taste-testing some of the Devonshire craft beer.
You can explore a lot in this area, even if you are short on time so read on below to find out the best things to do.
How to get to and explore Kingsbridge
The best way to get to Kingsbridge is by car. There are train and bus options, however, these are not direct. Whilst you are in Kingsbridge you are probably going to want to explore the surrounding areas, and having a car is the best way to do this, not only for convenience but to also find those hidden gems.
If you do not have access to a car there are alternative options. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier there is no train station in this town and therefore no direct route. The best way to get there via train or coach is to travel directly into the town of Totnes. From Totnes, you can then catch either a taxi or a local bus on to Kingsbridge. This will take you roughly 20-30 minutes.
The best time to visit Kingsbridge
Kingsbridge is the kind of area you can visit all year round, as long as it’s not raining! There are so many beautiful walks and beaches that you can visit whether it is winter or summer, it’s just a matter of whether that rain gets in your way, as a lot of these hikes would not be fun to do in wet and windy conditions. Now I know this is hard because we live in the UK and the weather is unpredictable but try to plan your trip strategically to avoid the wet weather.
Where to stay in Kingsbridge
Kingsbridge is a great base area to stay in as you are no more than a 30-minute drive from some of the most scenic spots in South Devon. I stayed in a wonderful little Airbnb that was just a 5-minute walk from Kingsbridge town centre.
The only thing I would say is there are not as many pubs and restaurants within walking distance around here so if that’s what you are after then I would recommend staying in Salcombe.
The best places to eat and drink in Kingsbridge
Now, I’m going to be completely honest here and say I didn’t experience too much of the foodie side of the area. I got so absorbed in exploring that I was often getting home at 9pm and by that time it was too late to find somewhere to eat, so I ended up cooking most of the time. However, I did stop off at a couple of places with lots of delicious seafood options of which I have listed below:
The best things to do in Kingsbridge
You simply have to walk through Kingsbridge town to admire the beautiful estuary. Although I personally think the best place to view this is at Bowcombe Creek Bridge. If possible I would time it up so you visit the bridge an hour or so before sunset, the tide is high and the water is still and it just looks so beautiful.
There is a road adjacent to the bridge where you can park your car so that you can admire the view as you are unable to stop on the bridge.
Salcombe is a stunning little town just a short drive from Kingsbridge. Come here to admire the beautiful coloured buildings, enjoy a pint by the water and grab an ice cream. There are lots of restaurants/pubs and independent shops in Salcombe town centre so you can spend a couple of hours here eating lunch and browsing around the shops. There are 3 car parks in Salcombe town centre so hopefully, you won’t have any trouble finding a space.
Snapes point is a gorgeous 360 viewpoint location in Salcombe. Here, you will get to see stunning views of rolling hills, the Kingsbridge Estuary as well as look out over the town of Salcombe.
If you are arriving by car simply type “Snapes Point National Trust car park” into your sat nav and it will take you right there. if you are a National Trust member the car park is free, if not it is £3 for the whole day. The walk from the car park to Snapes Point will take you roughly 15/20 to walk. The walk there is clearly signposted along the way.
Alternatively, if you are staying in Salcombe you can walk the 4.5-mile distance to Snapes Point (shorter route available). This walk starts close to Shadycombe Car Park (TQ3 8QE).
This was one of my favourite places on the whole trip. It was absolutely beautiful and I had the beach all to myself.
Type in “Gara Rock” into your sat nav and you will be taken to a hotel. Here they have parking for non-guests which is clearly signposted and parking here is free.
Now for exploring. Walk to the end of the car park towards the coastline. Here you will see a signpost with a couple of adventure options for you!
If you want to visit the beach pictured below you should follow the route to “West Prawle”. It will take you roughly 15/20 minutes to get to the beach. You can then continue walking along the route towards West Prawle or return back up and head in the other direction towards Mill Bay or head home.
So the first thing I thought when I saw this cute little bay was how much it reminded me of Thailand. The golden sand, the emerald green water and all the trees growing on the rock gave it that Thailand feel. The bay also looks out across to the village of Salcombe so you get beautiful views from all angles!
To get here you have a few options: you can either drive straight here, the car park is National Trust so as always it is free for members and chargeable for non-members.
Alternatively, you can hike Mill Bay. You will have to park up at Gara Rock car park (see above) and then follow the coastal path route down.
Finally, if you’re not feeling any of the above you can catch a boat from Salcombe directly to Mill Bay.
Hope Cove is a small but stunning beach location in the village of (yep you guessed it), Hope Cove and it is just a 15-minute drive from Kingsbridge
There are two car parks in Hope Cove. ‘Inner Hope Cove’ car park and ‘Outer Hope Cove’ car park. My recommendation is the park at Outer Hope Cove car park as this is close to the beach. Both car parks have charges which are determined by your length of stay.
If you are up for a walk you can also hike to Hope Cove. To do so you will have to park up at the Bolberry Down National Trust Car park. To get here put TQ7 3DY into your sat nav. Your sat nav will tell you that you have arrived at least 2/3 minutes before you are actually there so keep driving down the road until you see the entry sign.
Once Hope Cove, there is a cute pub overlooking the sea called the “Hope and Anchor” which you can stop off at if you get hungry.
The village and beach are very small so I would recommend spending just a short amount of time here.
Soar Mill Cove
Soar Mill Cove is a small, remote sandy inlet in Bolt Head. To get here you will have to park up at the Bolberry Down National Trust Car park (see above) and then take the 20/30 minute downhill walk to the cove. You can walk directly on to the beach as well as hike up on the cliffs beside the beach to get views as seen in the picture below.
Thurlestone Beach / South Milton Sands
So, this was one of the best places I visited on my trip and I highly recommend coming here. It was so peaceful and relaxing and I got there a couple of hours before sunset so it was looking extremely pretty in that golden hour glow.
Thurlestone Beach is made up of two main beaches: one smaller one near Thurlestone golf club and one larger beach towards South Milton.
To get here simply type the Thurlestone Beach into your sat nav and you will be taken directly to the beach car park. The price of parking will depend on your length of stay.
If you want to walk here you can do so by starting off at Bantham Beach and walking along the coast line.
If you want to watch the sunset in South Devon then Bantham Beach is the place to come.
To get here simply put the beach into your sat nav and it will take you straight to the car park. Whether you pay depends on what time you arrive, if you come for sunset chances are you won’t have to pay as the ticket booth will be shut by then!
You can also hike to Batham Beach. A great starting point is from Thurlestone Sands (see above). The walk will take you roughly 30/40 minutes.
And Finally, if you are up for some action you can also surf and stand-up paddleboard at Bantham. Head to Bantham Surfing Academy to find out more.
Start Point Lighthouse
Start Point Lighthouse is the best place to watch the sunrise in the Kingsbridge area. If you enter “Start Point” into your sat nav it will take you straight to the car park. Again this car park has a ticket booth so whether you pay depends on what time you arrive, if you come for sunrise the booth won’t be open yet so you won’t have to pay.
Once you park up you will then have to take a short walk to get round to the lighthouse. To get the best views you will have to climb up a steep part of the hill. You will know where to climb as the rocks have been carved into steps and there is a metal chain railing for you to hold on to.
Both a short walk (20 minutes) and a short drive (6 minutes) from Start Point Lighthouse is Hallsands Beach. Hallsands is a beautiful shingle beach and this was another one of my favourites. The waves here are loud and strong so it’s the perfect place to relax in the morning and listen to the ocean crash along the shore.
Burgh Island is a small tidal island located in the town of Bigbury-On-Sea. On the island, you can find beautiful golden sand and a secret (not so secret) natural mermaid pool. In low tide, you can get over to the island on foot and in high tide, you can get over to the island via a sea tractor, however, this stops running early evening so make sure you get your timings right. I arrived too late so unfortunately, I didn’t a chance to actually go on the island which was a shame!
To get here head to the Bigbury-On-Sea beach car park and you will then easily see where you can start you walk to the island/ catch the sea tractor.
CARRY CHANGE! A lot of the machines in the car parks do not have the option to pay by card. Most do have the option to pay by phone but more often then not there will be very little reception which can cause problems. Another tip would be to get a National Trust membership, even if it’s solely for this trip, a lot of the car parks are owned by the national trust. A membership will cost you circa £6 for the month and you will definitely be spending more on parking.
Want some more inspiration for the South West of England? Then check out my post on the best things to do in Cornwall.