Hope Cove - a charming village set amidst beautiful, unspoilt countryside close to the southernmost point of the South Devon Heritage Coast, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Originally a small fishing and crabbing village and a favourite haunt for smugglers, roughly equidistant from Exeter and Plymouth, Hope Cove is one of the best kept secrets of the South Hams, an area sheltered by Dartmoor to the north and caressed by the Gulf Stream to the south.
It lies just around the corner from Salcombe, one of the great sailing centres of the South West, and facing out into Bigbury Bay. It actually consists of two villages: Outer Hope which boasts a historic pub, restaurants, village store and Post Office and Inner Hope which is centred around picturesque thatched fishermen’s cottages, and one of the most photographed and painted villages in England.
This secluded village off the A 38 enjoys one of the mildest climates on mainland Britain with early springs and late balmy autumns. Come in spring and enjoy an abundance of blooming gorse and rhododendron and experience the glow of autumn colours when the tourist season has ebbed away. Even the winters are milder than elsewhere in England which makes Hope Cove an ideal ‘all year’ holiday location. Take advantage of the super rental rates, the uncongested roads and the cosiness of the historic local pubs. Cottage View awaits you with central heating, a cosy open fire and a luxury double-glazed conservatory.
The beaches around Hope Cove range from tiny sheltered coves to great swathes of golden sand and long stretches of pebbles and shingle. Many of them are ‘Seaside Award’ winning beaches. They offer sand, rock pools and clear water for swimming, paddle boarding and diving. Dolphins and seals are also seen in the cove and crabbing is a popular pastime for children. Dogs love those beaches, too!
Hope Cove is also a walkers’ paradise. There are miles of delightful and varied scenery along this rugged Heritage Coastline. On either side of the village there are spectacular cliff walks along the South Devon Coast Path owned by the National Trust towards the Salcombe Estuary to the East and Thurlestone with its excellent Links golf course just two miles to the North West.
Whatever the weather or the season, Hope Cove also makes the perfect base to explore and experience the wide range of attractions the beautiful South Hams has to offer. There is a huge choice of things to see and do within a few miles: stately homes, farm centres, sub-tropical gardens, adventure parks, historic pubs are close by. Many of the attractions and places to visit in the area now stay open all.
Nearby Kingsbridge offers an attractive leisure centre, a wide variety of friendly High Street shops and well-stocked supermarkets. Further afield you may explore mysterious Dartmoor, historic Dartmouth or Slapton Nature Reserve.
Going Back in Times – Historic Hope Cove
Hope Cove has a long and fascinating history. First mentioned in the 13th century, it was for much of its life a fairly remote fishing village whose inhabitants supplemented their incomes by smuggling and plundering wrecked ships.
The main source of income, however, was fishing. The locals still talk about the days when Pilchard Cove lived up to its name with a thriving industry based on the fish which mysteriously disappeared, taking many livelihoods with is. In the 1750's, Jeremiah Milles, a future Dean of Exeter, wrote that upwards of 20,000 mackerel were taken at one draught by a boat fishing not far from the shore. Fish still provides a boost in income for a few mainly with Crab and Lobster pots, which the village is famous for.
Many wrecks have occurred in and around the village over the years. The San Pedro el Major (St. Peter the Great), one of the ships of the Spanish Armada, was wrecked on the Shippen Rock in 1588. A number of buildings in the South Devon area still pride themselves in having old beams salvaged from the wreckage of the Armada. In 1760 more than 700 people lost their lives when the HMS Ramilles was wrecked upon the rocks at the base of Bolt Tail. Another famous wreck was that of the proud barque, the Herzogin Cecilie. The 334-foot four-masted training ship ran aground on the Ham Stone on the 25th April, 1936.
During World War II Hope Cove was home to numerous RAF men and women who operated the Radar and Radio Stations in the area. Many aircrews were boarded at The Cottage Hotel prior to flying dangerous missions throughout Europe. The Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie spent part of his exile here, and the village square is seen in the opening sequence of A Queen is Crowned, the film made in 1953 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, and has featured variously in film ever since.