Cornwall – it’s lovely isn’t it? The coves, the coastal path, the mystique and history of smugglers and tin miners, and of course the very 21st century foodie destinations.
But from London, or the Midlands, let alone anywhere further north, the beautiful county of Cornwall is … well … it’s a bit far, isn’t it?
So here’s an idea. Why not stop off – for an hour or two, or even overnight – in a place that’s just as lovely, steeped in history and charm, where you can break the journey and whet your appetite for what’s to come.
Welcome, then, to Topsham in Devon.
We’re literally five minutes off junction 29 of the M5 with parking available at three car parks in the town – just follow the obvious signs. Topsham is also a short train ride from Exeter St Davids mainline station, and even just 20 minutes by car from Exeter Airport.
And we promise that we have everything you will most definitely not find if you break your journey at Exeter Services, the station buffet or the airport canteen.
There are cafes and restaurants serving everything from vegan to carnivore, from lattes to fine wines. There’s a cellar specialising in wines from Topsham’s own vineyard; a funky eatery with meat reared locally and smoked in the town; two restaurants have been awarded this year with Michelin plates; and there are more baristas and coffee options than you’ll find anywhere this side of Colombia.
If you want to stretch your legs after that long drive (it’ll be three hours from London to Topsham, and almost as long again to Penzance or the Lizard Peninsula) then we have perfect options for you.
There’s a trail embracing historic buildings, maritime history and beautiful estuary views; for wildlife lovers there’s an RSPB nature reserve and the hills of East Devon to admire and wade through; or why not keep the kids happy by taking the bikes off the rack and taking to the Route 2 cycle path, widely regarded as the most beautiful waterside ride on two wheels?
Not enough? During spring and summer there are ferry rides to take you to more walks or a seriously wonderful waterside pub; there are around 50 independent shops vying for your attention; and period architecture (think Dutch-gabled houses) plus a unique museum every bit as charming as any you will find further south west.
If that sounds enough to fill more than a break in a journey, you’re right – so why not stay the night? There’s a wonderful inn with rooms and a string of B&Bs, Airbnbs and other places to stay – and plenty of places for breakfast before your journey resumes.
In other words, why go through the staycation pain of a long journey to your eventual destination, when you can get a little Devon heaven on the way?