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Summer in Salcombe

A family holiday is an oxymoron. So is a British summer. Thus, with little expectation of either fine dining or the sun shining, we planned our break. With two small children, the boot was full, the journey short. We were going from Somerset to Devon. For the second year running we had booked into The Crab Pot, an ex-fisherman’s hut situated on South Sands beach near the mouth of the estuary about a mile from Salcombe. The cottage has everything we could need: the presence of frighteningly high bunks for the courageous three-year-old and the absence of (frighteningly high) stairs for the outrageous one-year-old. The décor is “spartan-chic”, having been recently redecorated. Like the children, our holiday world is small. Besides the cottage, where time is spent being amused by the children and the view, the week is played out in three places: the beach, the nearby National Trust property and Salcombe. The beach is only a few steps (seven, to be exact) from the cottage. It has plenty of yellow sand, which responds well to childish manipulation — which, frankly, is all that matters to half the family. The kids prefer the rock pools. We all like the locally produced ice-cream sold in the boat house. The National Trust property nearby is Overbeck’s Museum & Garden, situated a 15-minute toddle away. It supplies all necessary aspects of family activity: a garden for running races, a tearoom for filling faces, and a museum for hiding spaces (in this instance, a children’s secret passage). And back to the beach, it’s all downhill. Which is more than can be said for the journey to Salcombe, the third pillar of our holiday experience. Salcombe is reached via hills, which on foot require mountaineering gear, and by car require first gear. If you prefer, a ferry service runs half-hourly from South Sands to the centre of Salcombe (adults £2.70). Salcombe is a picturesque town overlooking a beautiful estuary. It appears to be populated by models from a Boden catalogue. Luckily, they must have an appetite, which is well served by numerous cafés and ice-cream parlours. We like the Wardroom, which overlooks the water. For more space, the Marine Hotel has a fantastic view — and fantastically few visitors in the afternoon. We’re going back to the same cottage next year, trusting that with slightly larger children the journey will be easier, the boot emptier. It will be family; it might even be a holiday. Tessa Dean, Taunton thecrabpot.co.uk.

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