As my LandRover wended its cautious way through the frighteningly-narrow country lanes of Devon I kept consulting my navigator, who was using an atlas after Garmin’s useless GPS kept sending us the wrong way through fields and sometimes streams. And I kept muttering – “I hope this resort we are going to is going to be worth all this effort.”
But when we finally reached destination Torcross, on Slapton Sands, all my worries were blown away by the sight of a classically-beautiful English village, with ancient thatched cottages, a large duckpond, local farm and fabulous beach and divine little sea-side restaurant and lively real ale pub also with fine bistrot. And miles of deserted beaches, and all this on a July weekend.
I am saving the best for last because our accommodation, a beautiful apartment overlooking both beach and village, was sensational, and when we checked into the At the Beach apartment complex I realised that Britain has finally got holiday accommodation to rival the very best in Europe.
The flat, from the excellent Blue Chip Holidays company, was faultlessly clean, everything worked, and there was a truly modern kitchen, which was seriously under-used as we dined out most of the holiday.
Now to Torcross, idyllically small and beautiful and our apartment was right on the beach, and seriously restful as you could lie there an relax to the lapping of the waves. A really good place for chilling out with a good book, with the knowledge the place hardly ever gets busy.
The beach is sand and shingle and stretches from Torcross several miles along the to Start Bay and Dartmouth. And apart from a few holidaymakers and locals it is often deserted. We arrived for a long weekend break and delighted in doing nothing, apart from leisurely walks along the sea front and visits to the local pub-restaurant just 50 years from our apartment.
I did however spend a goodly deal of time visiting the many World War 2 reminders all around, including a well-preserved Sherman tank from the American Rangers, who trained here in 1944 pre D-Day and tragically some 800 of these young men were surprised on a night exercise when German E-boats evaded radar and sank their landing craft and all the lads were machine-gunned to death in the water or drowned because they were fully laden and in heavy assault gear and carrying large supply packs. Their tanks were also sunk, but one was recovered recently by a local, who restored it and built it into a memorial for the victims.
Another wartime reminder is the plaque along the beach where the American Government thanks the people of Torcross and Slapton for giving up their homes and farms for a year to accommodate the troops before their assault on France. Very touching. And so sad.
A few miles away is Dartmouth, home of Britain’s Royal Naval College and a lively tourist town with lots of hotels, fine restaurants, and bars and bistros.
The At the Beach apartment complex cost from £292 for a 3-night break and it is run by Blue Chip Holidays