Hope Cove is a lovely small village tucked away in the South Hams in Devon overlooking Bigbury Bay. The locals will tell you that it is actually at “Bolt Tail”, which is in the name of this part of Bigbury Bay.
Hope Cove is a perennial family favourite for families and couples on romantic getaways. With a selection of really beautiful clean beaches, a number of real English (non chain) pubs and restaurants, great walks, Hope Cove is a great place to rent a holiday home.
Historically Hope Cove is fascinating, first mentioned in the Azzise Rolls in 1281, Hope Cove was two small villages, Inner and Outer Hope, as its is today. As you can imagine the only way of making a living was from the land or the sea. Famous for its hauls of Pilchards and Mackerel, as mentioned many times in historic documents, it survived as an industry for hundreds of years. Now local fishermen use rod and line, crab and lobster pots to supply local restaurants and shops. However as Hope Cove was quite remote in those far off days it attracted its fair share of smugglers as well and the romance of those days is accentuated by ships being wrecked in storms and plundered by local “rascals”
Another notable events that Hope Cove is famous for was when the Spaniards came ashore during the reign of Queen Elisabeth I, the only place in England they ever managed to land. One of their ships “St. Peter the Great” was wrecked on the Shippen Rock in 1588 and this may be the reason a number of buildings have old boat beams in them!
S.H. Burton,, a well known writer, in his book “South Devon Coast”, refers to a place called Ramillies and explains that it was associated with a ship being wrecked at Hope in a hurricane on February 15th, 1790. This is what the book retells!
“Her captain mistook Bolt Tail for Rame Head and thought he was being driven into the Sound. When the mistake was realised they let go their anchor and, by cutting away all the masts, managed to ride safely until evening. Then the violence of the wind increased and the cable parted. A midshipman and 25 of the crew made a perilous leap from the stern to the rocks that fringe Ramillies Hole, a narrow cleft. They were saved, but the rest, 708 in all, perished.”
Hope Cove was also home to staff of the RAF men who managed the newly invented Radar to support the war cause in the 1940′s. They were accompanied by aircrew as well who stayed in local hotels between missions. An area close by area was once dominated by a World War II aerodrome at Middle Soar.
Other famous events that such a small village enjoys involved the village square being used in the opening sequence of A Queen is Crowned, from 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Hope Cove lies on the Devon Coastal trail and is nominated a “Heritage Coastline”. This complete walk is actually hundreds of miles long, but the entire length is well maintained and a joy to explore. Just pack the sandwiches, hiking boots, a camera and wildlife books!
The question about Golf often arises and visitors are not disappointed. There are lots of golf courses, the closest being Thurlestone.
Hope Cove is one of a number of villages, scattered throughout the South Hams and each has its own peculiarities, characters, cottage industries and new discoveries. Hope Cove Gallery, is one of these which is the top of the slipway and overlooks the harbour wall at Hope Cove. The gallery provides a selection of contemporary art: paintings, glass work and photographs. The gallery is open from 11am-5pm every day except Tuesdays during the season. Opening times out of season will vary.
The sea has been art the heart of Hope Cove spirit for hundreds of years. The sea can be a dangerous environment and lifeboats has been an essential support to the local community. There has been a lifeboat in Hope Cove since 1878, with the original one given to the village by the Masons. Between 1878 and 1930 it was used many times to save many lives.
Since 1960 the rescue boat has been managed by the Maritime Coastguard Authority. The Lifeboat however has been in jeopardy for over a decade and now the lifeboat organisation is staffed by volunteers, incorporated as a company and now as a registered charity. No doubt this will help to save lives in the future.