A home away from home

Watermouth Cove in Devon, England, offers many hiking opportunities and affordable accommodation.

Watermouth Cove in Devon, England, offers many hiking opportunities and affordable accommodation. (photo credit: JUDY CROWN)
Watermouth Cove in Devon, England, offers many hiking opportunities and affordable accommodation.
(photo credit: JUDY CROWN)
There are certain things that are essential for me when I go on holiday. The location needs to be in a beautiful area with good walking opportunities; the surrounding areas must be accessible by public transportation; and it must be affordable. I also like to be able to buy basic food supplies easily. Sometimes I manage to find the perfect place.
I have visited Watermouth Cove for the past four years, staying there for a week in late April/early May. Watermouth Cove is a coastal town in England’s southwest county of Devon. The area is known for its lovely coast, verdant gardens and clotted cream tea with scones.
As this area is dubbed “Lorna Doone country,” there are many locations that are mentioned in the well-known 19th-century romantic novel. Although some are difficult to reach by public transportation, they can be visited by car.
Exmoor, a higher area of moorland that has a different type of landscape than the coastal areas, is well worth visiting. And the county of Somerset is east of Devon.
Roads in Devon are often narrow and scenic. Watermouth Cove Cottages (www.watermouth-cove-cottages.co.uk) in Devon are located 200 meters from a small cove/ harbor, next to Watermouth Castle. There are eight cottages arranged around a courtyard with seats and tables. I took the smallest cottage, which had two bedrooms (the smaller room had bunk beds), a bathroom and a lounge with kitchen and dining area.
During low season, the price was similar to what I would have paid for a single en-suite room in a bed-and-breakfast place, but I was much more comfortable there.
There are some lovely paths close to the cove through wooded areas and scenic open areas. Going toward Ilfracombe there is a farm that has alpacas of various colors.
There is a lovely beach nearby that is reached by walking down 300 stairs. As it is tidal, it’s best to go there when the tide is going out.
Watermouth Cove faces west, so you can watch the sun setting over the sea, with the boats in the foreground.
A mile from Watermouth is Berrynarbor.
This attractive village has a small community shop, run by the local residents. Before you arrive at the place you’ll be staying, you can order food by email or phone, and it will be delivered when you arrive. The shop doesn’t carry a large stock, but it is useful for basics such as milk and eggs. You can get a wider range of items from the supermarkets in Ilfracombe. Regarding bread supplies, some of the supermarkets sell Kingsmill bread, which is certified kosher by the Sephardi Kashrut Authority.
Watermouth Cove is close to Ilfracombe.
Walking along the scenic coastal path, you will come to the village of Hele. It has a lovely small beach, with rock pools, as well as a cafe and public toilets.
A few minutes’ walk up the road is Hele Mill, which is open occasionally, depending on the time of year (www.helecornmill.com). You can take a tour of this working mill and then relax in the cafe or out in the garden, enjoying a light meal and a cup of coffee.
Ilfracombe, less than a two kilometers up on the road to the west, is a very pretty town with a good-sized harbor full of boats. There are cliff walks and beaches.
There are also good supermarkets and shops, such as a health food store called Nana Sue’s Sun Foods and a vegetarian restaurant called Grass Roots Cafe. The cafe is next to the bus stop, where you can catch buses to beautiful places such as Lee and Woolacombe.
Lee is a small village a few kilometers to the west with a scenic beach with rock pools. When the tide is out, you can walk to the next coves, but you have to be careful that the tide is not coming in. A few hundred meters from the harbor is The Grampus pub, which makes the most delicious cappuccino I have ever had.
Woolacombe is a resort with miles of sandy beaches strewn with seashells. The town has many tourist facilities and frequent buses in different directions.
A few kilometers east of Watermouth Cove is Combe Martin, another pretty cove and beach with a village. The coastal path going east from Combe Martin, over some high hills, leads to the lovely area of Lynton and Lynmouth. Lynmouth has a small scenic harbor, with lots of shops and cafes. A river passes through glorious scenery, with lots of small waterfalls.
A couple of kilometers up the river is the National Trust cafe and shop at Watersmeet.
A beauty spot with bridges and waterfalls, it is an ideal place for a break. Watersmeet can be reached by bus or car.
If you have a car, you can drive to other places that would be hard or impossible to access by bus, such as the moors or the steam train at Woody Bay near Lynmouth.