Beach please! Why the South Devon coast is the perfect pre-Christmas getaway…

(ES Magazine)

The Great British Seaside is such a contradiction: it swells and buzzes with people all summer long and yet, when the first frost arrives, these stretches of beautiful coastline become practically deserted. Fossilized. Forgotten. Which is a shame, given the myriad of invigorating benefits of swimming in the sea — or just being near a body of water — for our immune systems, metabolism, and overall mood. In pursuit of this sacred trifecta of well-being (Christmas is coming, etc.) I find myself heading 250 miles southwest of London to Bantham Beach.

The surf and foaming waves that lap this stretch of the South Devon coast have earned Bantham a reputation as one of Europe’s finest beaches and an Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s part of the sprawling Bantham Estate (all 750 acres, owned by the same family that’s connected to the Great Tew Estate in the Cotswolds) and where we chose to spend a decidedly balmy November weekend with our two mini-mes in tow. While most of the properties in the village are privately owned, there are a few holiday homes available for rent.

We found ours via StayOne, flooded with light and postcard perfect views over the River Avon estuary – sparked with delight and wonder every day by our four year old Mila as she watched the water rise and flow as if it were’ by magic”. !’. The house has been beautifully optimized for families – enough board games and toys to stock Hamley’s, cozy log fires with books on the coffee table stacked artfully next to them – and a basement cinema room to still look at other episode of Blue (who am I kidding? Compared to the pig-that-must-not-be-named, that little dog is a saint).

    (ES Magazine)

(ES Magazine)

I digress. The real reason we made the five-hour journey from west London here was because of the siren call of the water. Handy that the beach was a short walk from the house, and we could slip into our wetsuits and straight into the surf with alarming speed. The little ones had never been happier. Mila, flanked by windsurfers and bodyboarders, ran straight into the water like a possessed child; Rafi, our two-year-old who hasn’t quite inherited his sister’s fearlessness, stayed behind to build brutalist sand castles while we organized a beach picnic for lunch.

    (ES Magazine)

(ES Magazine)

The more intrepid traveler might have ventured across the water – by sea tractor usually when the tide is in – to Burgh Island, Agatha Christie’s beloved coastal retreat and where she wrote Evil under the sun. This writer, however, was perfectly content to lean into the lazy ebb and flow of daily life in Bantham, apart from the occasional dash to Salcombe for sweets at Cranch’s. I escaped the kitchen and enlisted the help of lovely local cook Lizzie of Crabby Cuisine to prepare dinners each night. Verdict? “Mom, this is THE BEST treacle tart I’ve EVER EATEN.” ‘Mila, this is the ONLY treacle tart you will ever eat.’

    (ES Magazine)

(ES Magazine)

Superlative puddings aside, after the weekend I feel lighter, brighter, and more optimistic about the Big Push through the end of the year. Vitamin sea – you have to try it.

From £800 per night (minimum three night stay) or £5,600 per week, sleeps up to 10 (stay-one.com) Crabby Cuisine (07538 288 248)

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