Less of a village and more a scattering of hamlets, Welcombe enjoys a secluded position just inside Devon, close to the Cornish border. It sits astride a deep valley in which a stream slowly makes its way to Welcombe Mouth, tumbling over a waterfall on to a small beach.
If you’re looking for peace and quiet, natural beauty, easy access to the rugged beauty of the Hartland peninsula or the beaches of North Cornwall, then Welcombe’s the perfect choice.
What is there to do in and around Welcombe?
With its mixture of sand and long, finger-like strips of rock, Welcombe Mouth beach is a one-off. Reached on foot or by a rough, unmade road ending in a small car park, there’s an end-of-the-world feel to the place. It gets more crowded in summer, but out of season you’ll have the beach to yourself, bar the odd surfer or seal! Paddle in the Atlantic or go rock pooling. Magical stuff.
The nearest resort to Welcombe is lovely Bude, just over the border in Cornwall. It’s a delightful place that’s managed to avoid chain hotels or bars and kept a low-key family atmosphere. There’s a canal running through town, which is popular with anglers and canoeists, and a sea pool which is open all year round – so whatever the weather, you can always take a dip.
North of Welcombe, history buffs will love Hartland Abbey. Only one mile from the sea, the house sits in a narrow, sheltered valley which winds its way to the Atlantic Coast at Hartland Quay. Peacocks and guinea fowl roam the gardens, and donkeys and Black Welsh Mountain sheep graze in the Old Deer Park. Hartland Abbey is the home of the Stucley family and has been in their hands since it was gifted to an ancestor by Henry VIII during the Reformation. As a result, there are pictures, furniture and porcelain collected over many generations, as well as a lovely lived-in atmosphere.
Where are the best places to eat and drink in and around Welcombe?
There’s only one pub in Welcombe but fortunately it’s a corker. Thatched Devon boozer on the outside, The Old Smithy Inn is full of surprises on the inside. The décor is quirky and fun, with pop art and psychedelia on the walls, while the food is hearty and locally sourced, with dishes like Glamorgan style veggie sausages, grilled mackerel and burgers. The beers are well kept and include West Country favourites, Dartmoor Legend and St Austell HSD.
Just along the coast in Bude, The Bank has a lovely contemporary feel, with its cabin-like exterior and funky colourful interior. It specialises in Spanish food with a Cornish twist and if you think this is an odd combination, trust us – it works. There are tapas dishes that include grilled Cornish mackerel with garlic and chilli dressing, Spanish black pudding cooked with roasted peppers, basil and onion, and butter beans and spinach cooked in garlic, tomatoes and cream. Yum.