Family holiday review: At the Beach apartments, South Devon

A self-catering apartment by the seaside in family-friendly South Devon

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Torcross is home to a freshwater lake and shingle beach

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The top floor living area is compact but comfy

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The big master bedroom has plenty of room for little visitors

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Home away from home for your little ones

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Explore the Devon shoreline during a rockpooling tour

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Eek! Rockpooling with TV presenter Monty Halls

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All aboard! A harbour cruise is the perfect way to see nearby Dartmouth

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Ride with waves during a surfing lesson at Bigbury-on-Sea

Trip in a nutshell

A mid-priced beach and countryside break, staying in a modern, two-bedroom townhouse in the quiet village of Torcross.

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Who went

Chrissie Moore, 34, Rich Pendleton, 37, and Millie, 4

Best for

Families with young babies, pre-schoolers or school-age kids who are looking for a relaxing holiday by the coast, but with plenty of activities close by.

When to go

Most of Devon’s main attractions are open from the beginning of April to the end of October.

Essential travel info

The M4 from London, M6 from the north-west and M1/M42 from the north-east link up with the M5 to Devon.

Torcross is on the A379 between Kingsbridge and Dartmouth.

Family-friendly features

  • The apartments are equipped with microwave, washing machine and dishwasher.
  • Travel cots, high chairs and stairgates are available free of charge.
  • There’s plenty of room for a travel cot in the huge master bedroom; the second bedroom has two twin beds.

Review

It’s easy to see why South Devon is so popular with families. It combines coast and countryside, safe sandy beaches and rolling green meadows that are ripe for exploring. It’s also teeming with family-friendly attractions, from caves to castles, adventure parks to petting zoos.

The tiny village of Torcross makes a great base. It’s close to the attractions of Dartmouth, while also making you feel you’re far enough away from it all.

Torcross Beach, at the southern end of a picturesque three-mile stretch of shingle, is patrolled by lifeguards during July-September.

Nearby Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve is a haven for wildlife. The whole coastline has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

At The Beach apartments are smack bang at the end of the promenade, with direct access to the beach (book beachfront apartments 3, 6 or 11 for sea views).

We stayed in number 17, a modern townhouse split over three floors. The living area is on the top floor; kitchen, bathroom and twin bedroom on the middle; and impressive master suite with en suite Jacuzzi bath on the ground floor. However, Apartment 17 has two steep staircases, so not the best option for parents of toddlers (even with stairgates). 

The split-level design also may not appeal to everyone, but the living area was comfy, with a plasma TV, DVD player and wi-fi. The whole apartment was spotlessly clean. Glassware consisted of wine glasses only, so bring some child-friendly cups.  

The fantastic welcome pack was bulging with local activities, attractions, walking trails and restaurants.

We chose a Steam and Cruise tour with the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company. It departed from Paignton and chugged along past sandy beaches packed with holidaymakers, before pulling into Kingswear.

We then hopped aboard a small ferry to cross the River Dart to the lively town of Dartmouth.

After refueling with takeaway fish and chips from Rockfish (28 Lower Street, TQ6 9AN) we headed back to the ferry terminal for a boat trip around the harbour.

We floated past Dartmouth Castle, the impressive Britannia Royal Naval College and Greenway House, Agatha Christie’s former holiday home, before returning to shore an hour later and boarding the steam train back to Paignton.

The following day we headed back to Dartmouth for an hour-long shore walk with TV presenter Monty Halls’ tour company Great Escapes (4 Market Street, TQ6 9QE).

Our guide, local girl and marine biologist Rachel Cole, took us to a sandy cove below Dartmouth Castle to explore the rockpools.

Rachel showed us loads of interesting plants and animals hidden in the pools. There were edible sea cabbage, starfish, strawberry anemone, hermit crabs, brown and green crabs, shrimp, and a velvet swimming crab (minus a claw!).

The tour was perfectly pitched at both adults and kids, with Rachel offering scientific commentary, while making it fun for budding marine biologists.

We spent the rest of our time exploring picture-postcard villages and the nearby sandy beaches of North Sands and South Sands.

The swimming spots are great for families, plus at North Sands, you can pop across the road to the Winking Prawn café for an ice cream.

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