Exploring The English Riviera: Two Nights in Brixham - Readymoney Beach Shop

Exploring The English Riviera: Two Nights in Brixham

Victoria Clark

When our children were away staying with the in-laws this summer my husband Andrew and I took the opportunity to run away "up country" (the Cornish term for anything past the border), exploring the English Riviera with two nights in Brixham. We had a great trip so I thought I'd share with you what we enjoyed.

Our Brixham home on the water

Three photos on a yellow background all showing a floating boat pod in Brixham Marina

Living in beautiful Fowey does kind of spoil you a bit if I'm honest. So many people flock here for their own holidays that it can be a bit of a challenge sometimes to find a place to stay which compares. However, there are lots of great quirky places to stay in Devon and in the end we picked this super cute little boat pod moored in Brixham Marina

I literally fell in love with The Inspiration as soon as I saw it, it's such a gorgeous tiny home space and perfectly kitted out with mains water, toilet, shower, comfy double bed and cleverly thought out black out blinds. Everything you need for a short stay on the Devon coast, it even has a tv! Even on our last morning in the midst of a storm there was never any more than a gentle rocking, I loved it. It did however take me a full day to stop swaying after we got home (but Andrew was fine).

3 round images on a yellow background showing pictures of ice creams

Devonshire v Cornish ice cream?

Pretty much the first thing we did on arrival in Brixham was check out the local ice cream parlours. Now, our huge range of delicious Cornish ice creams (read more about that here) does make me a bit of an ice cream snob so I had to do my research. Ice cream prices on the whole seemed higher than ice cream in Fowey (unless I'm undercharging...) so I felt that we needed to choose wisely!

After ruling out anything which was bulked out with air (look at the texture of the ice cream, it should be creamy, not mousse like) or full of lurid colours we plumped for the local Salcombe Dairy ice cream. I had popcorn and Andrew had chocolate honeycomb, both were truly delicious. We did try other brands during our stay but they didn't come close and really I still prefer our own!

3 round photos on a yellow background showing the steam train at Kingswear, the Dart Explorer boat at Dartmouth and St Marys Bay beach near Brixham

Day trips from Brixham

We made the most of our brief time exploring the English Riviera. We had hoped to catch the ferry from Brixham to Dartmouth but it wasn't running that day so we instead drove a few miles across to Kingswear (plenty of public parking in Darthaven Marina even though it was mid school summer holidays). After having a look at the steam trains (the line runs up to Paignton) we took the foot ferry over to Dartmouth for a little mooch (only £2pp each way). Dartmouth has a more upmarket feel than Brixham and we enjoyed wandering the streets.

For lunch we happened upon the gorgeous Dartmouth market: I had the most delicious lobster laksa at Asian inspired Jenny Koo's Kitchen, Andrew had the crab sandwich of dreams. The owner came out to chat to us and explained how her husband had caught the lobster (sticking strictly to his quota of two) and how she had been on crab picking duty, something I always think is terribly tiresome. The Greek cafe next door also looked worth a visit.

We had a mooch around a few charity shops (the nicer the area the better the second hand bargains) and little boutiques (I've long admired the bright graphic homewares & artwork in Bert & Buoy), tried some more ice cream and caught the ferry back again.

Although there is a perfectly gorgeous Blue Flag beach right next to Brixham Marina we fancied stretching our legs a bit. So on the way back from Kingswear we stopped off at Berry Head and took a walk out along the South West Coast Path to the gorgeous St Mary's Bay. It took about 40 minutes to walk around and down to the beach by which time we were rather warm and more than ready for a dip! The water felt quite cold compared to Readymoney but we didn't spot a single jellyfish, always a bonus. Our walk back seemed to be much shorter (isn't that always the way).

3 round images on a yellow background, 2 of two cocktails and 1 of a cinnamon bun cronut

Eating & drinking in Brixham

As a working fishing harbour Brixham is awash with boats bringing in the latest catch. We decided against the early morning tour of the fish market (I'm not a morning person) but instead focussed on eating their freshly caught wares with dinner at Mitch Tonks' Rockfish. Yes, it's a chain but it's brilliantly done and the food was outstanding.

Surely no better place to eat fresh fish and seafood than a balcony overlooking the fishing boats coming into the harbour, complete with curious seal in need of snacks. The cuttlefish "calamari" was particularly delish, all I've seen of cuttlefish in the past are the white bony bits which get washed up at Readymoney. Roast scallops were also beyond delish and the blissfully light and buttery sole was a hit with us both. Although we did have mega garlic breath all night.

On our second night we decided to go a bit off piste and booked a table at the local Thai restaurant. OMG I am so glad we did! It's a cosy little place (they do takeout too) but the food was next level and easily on a par with food we ate in Thailand on our honeymoon years ago. My pork gyoza and duck massaman curry were both really good.

The service was super friendly too, we would definitely go back, I highly recommend. We had wanted to try Albero, the highly recommended Italian restaurant on the harbourside but it was fully booked for days so do plan in advance if that's on your wish list.

We preceded dinner on both nights by working our way through the extensive cocktail menu at harbour side cocktail & tea parlour Liberty, cake & cocktails, what's not to love! Andrew also made a few early morning coffee runs to The Curious Kitchen (they had the most amazing brunch menu which we sadly didn't manage to make time for) and to try their incredible donuts, yum yum!

3 circles on a yellow background, one with a photo of St Marys Bay near Brixham, one with a photo of Readymoney Cove, Fowey and the other with the words Devon or Cornwall?

Devon or Cornwall?

We spent some time browsing a lovely little independent gift store in Brixham called Bertie & Crew . I got chatting to the owner as we stock a few of the same lines including our funky nautical patterned waterproof bags and super popular place name signs. We're both passionate about carefully selecting suppliers and supporting local small makers and crafters. It's quite isolating running a business as a sole trader and it was good to chat about the challenges facing small businesses in seaside tourist towns this season, given the rather tricky weather. 

The thing that struck us most as we were exploring the English Riviera was the lack of people in comparison to back home in Cornwall. As dismal as the weather has been this summer, Fowey feels as busy as usual in the school holidays and the beach shop has been busy even on decidedly non beach days. Not the case in Devon. There were quite a few families crabbing along the harbour wall in Brixham but nothing like the packed streets at home. Where is everyone? In Cornwall? 

As much I love Cornwall, I can wholeheartedly recommend exploring the English Riviera on the Devon coast as an alternative, it was the perfect little getaway for us. Plus if you're coming from up country it's less far to travel! 

Where shall we go next? Happy to take any recommendations for future short breaks in the south west, leave a comment below and let me know if you've been to the Brixham area and enjoyed anything I've not mentioned.

Victoria and her husband Andrew at Brixham harbour

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