Why you should Visit Torbay this Valentine’s
You’ve nearly made it through the darkest, dankest, bleakest month on the calendar and with any luck, so has your other half, so why not reward yourselves with a romantic Valentine’s trip for two? There’s no better place than Torbay on Devon’s south coast, where a spectacular coastline and the charming coastal resort towns of Brixham, Torquay and Paignton offer the chance to escape. You can win over a new lover with a weekend trip to a spacious, palatial hideaway or hole away with an old lover in a cute cottage on the coast.
And if you don’t fancy romantic evenings in, there are loads of opportunities for romantic evenings out. Not only is the attractive coastline seemingly made for slow leisurely strolls, but there are lots of other suitable activities for two and hordes of excellent restaurants and gastropubs where you can share slap-up meals together, before returning to your warm and cosy Torbay holiday home. What’s more, we’re sure a romantic Torbay retreat tops the traditional chocolate and flowers gift any day.
Here’s our pick of the best ways to spend your Torbay Valentine’s break.
1. Romantic rail journeys
You’ve whisked your beloved down to Torbay, now what? It’s time you showed them the sights. From Valentine’s Day onward, you can step aboard the steam train from Paignton to Kingswear. This rural route whisks past the graceful coastline and into the magical wintry woodlands, before dropping you off at the waterfront town of Kingswear. From Kingswear, head to the harbour, where you can continue to soak up the river scenery on the Dartmouth passenger ferry. In Dartmouth, visit the eponymous castle, whose fairytale architecture and picturesque waterside setting are guaranteed to stir up romance.
If you’re staying in Torquay and fancy a slightly more adventurous rail ride, try the Babbacombe Cliff Railway, which begins chugging away from Valentine’s Day on. Leaving from the lofty heights of Babbacombe Downs, this historic funicular has carried passengers down the steep rocky hill to Oddicombe Beach since 1926, and it continues to do so today. Step off the train onto the shingle stretch, which is enclosed by high cliffs. Enjoy a ramble along Oddicombe and Babbacombe beaches, which are wild, windswept and relatively quiet in winter, so you and your darling can amble along in peace.
After pottering across Babbacombe beach arm in arm, retreat to the warmth of the nearby Cary Arms, a spectacularly located gastropub overlooking the bay. Laze together by the open fire with a warming pint of ale or order some lunch.
If you don’t fancy donning your walking boots, try taking the Torquay Land Train instead. This will carry you around Torquay allowing you to take in the pretty harbour town sights from the comfort of the train window. Should you wish to shower your loved one with Valentine’s Day presents, hop off at Fleet Street for a spot of shopping, before boarding again and completing the journey.
2. Secluded beach strolls
Britain’s surf-battered south coast is a thing of wild beauty. Wrap up and embark on wintry walk. Stroll hand in hand with your partner along the picturesque sections of the South West Coast Path. There are numerous routes to choose from (see here for various trail options). Trek past the plunging cliffs of Berry Head on the way from Brixham to Kingswear, or set off from bustling Torquay to reach Meadfoot beach. Time it right and you can arrive at Meadfoot just in time to watch the sun melt into the horizon. The coastline around Torbay is often at its prettiest on bright and chilly winter days, when strikingly crisp blue skies contrast with the surroundings. And with hardly another soul present, you and your partner can enjoy the views in all their desolate glory.
3. Take to the seas
Romance doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In this case, all you need is the love of your life and £2 for a ticket (or £4 if you’re planning to return). Step aboard the ferry at Brixham for the journey over to Torquay. Wrap your hands around a hot drink and look out as Brixham’s colourful port shrinks into the distance. There are stunning views of the coast, and if you’re lucky, you may even be able to spot a dolphin or seal playing around in the surf.
Having saved money on the cheap-as-chips ferry over, splurge on award-winning fish and chips at Hanbury’s in Torquay. What could be more romantic than huddling over a steaming bag of fish and chips while watching the tide creep in on Torquay’s Torre Abbey Sands? If you’re feeling brave, try dipping your toes into the rolling winter waves.
4. Meals for two
A meal for two is the quintessential Valentine’s treat and Torbay’s burgeoning dining scene has some truly terrific dining options. Here’s some food for thought for your romantic Valentine’s Day dining.
No one blends romance and food quite as well as the French and Torquay’s Le Bistro Pierre has drawn up a tantalising French feast in honour of the occasion. Elsewhere, foodies will swoon at the Michelin-starred cuisine being served up in The Elephant, while Pier Point and the family-run Number 7 Fish Bistro offer delicious fresh seafood.
Torquay is a foodie haven and on Valentine’s weekend, restaurants are likely to book out quickly. If you can’t secure a table at any of these, there are plenty of other great establishments in town to try, including On the Rocks (which has a separate vegetarian menu), The Orange Tree, Wellies and the Austrian-influence Old Vienna.
Brixham also has more than its fair share of dining options. The New Quay Inn is turning up the heat on Friday February 13th and Saturday 14th with a special Valentine’s tapas menu. Elsewhere in town, Bistro 46 nods to exotic flavours with its eclectic dishes, while Bacco brings lusty Italian cuisine to South Devon. For something more native, try Old Market House or the relaxed Ernie Lister pub.
5. Feeding experiences
Should Valentine’s gifts be needed and chocolates and flowers are a touch too traditional for your loved one, consider this unique alternative. Surprise them during your trip away with a feeding experience in Paignton Zoo. Choose the animal that makes their heart melt — whether it’s a cute meerkat, an elegant giraffe or even a rare black rhino — and arrange to have them enter the enclosure and get a close-up look at these amazing animals. Additional feeding opportunities can be found at the Living Coasts Aquarium in Torquay, including one with the ever-popular and always adorable penguins.
Discovery Holiday Homes would like to thank Mandy Hegarty at World Words for this lovely Valentine piece.