27th June 2024

Reading time


The West Country’s Best Family Havens

Fun for all the family

The West Country is a haven for young families, with plenty to do to keep all ages amused.

There is the beach, obviously, plus the chance to work up an appetite walking or cycling through glorious countryside (before sating your hunger at one of the region’s great gastropubs).

Throw in the chance to learn to sail on calm waters, the fun of surfing, and regular music and arts festivals and it is little wonder that when it comes to buying a bolthole or relocating completely so many families look west for inspiration.

These are Black Brick’s picks of the most family friendly options in the West Country:

Best for beachcombers: Lyme Regis.

Known as the pearl of Dorset this historic seaside resort’s location can barely be beaten. Located at the meeting point between West Dorset and East Devon, and at the heart of the Jurassic Coast, a 95-mile long stretch of protected coastline.

The UNESCO World Heritage site is famous for its astounding rock formations and sandy beaches flanked by cliffs. It is renowned as a spot for fossil hunting, but you can also hire kayaks, take a fishing trip, or learn to paddleboard. Feeling the chill? You can warm up at a wood fired sauna on the beach.

The walking in this area is sublime – you can tackle the 630-mile South West Coast Path, cycle around the Marshwood Vale, or pick up the National Cycle Network route for a trip to the historic town of Dorchester. 

If the weather isn’t in your favour Lyme Regis has a theatre, aquarium, a working watermill, and the town’s Georgian streets and its harbour, The Cobb, are filled with plenty of good shops and cool independent cafes and restaurants.  The town hosts a range of festivals throughout the year, including a folk music weekend, a regatta, and a week long carnival. 

Second home buyers love Lyme Regis because of its accessibility – trains from Axminster, five miles away, reach London Waterloo in just over three hours.

Substantial family houses on the edge of town are priced from around £1.2m – you will pay a premium for a sea view, however. The town is full of historic Georgian homes, priced at around £600,000 to £700,000 for a four bedroom town centre home. Some of these homes have been divided into apartments, priced at around £350,000 for two bedrooms. And former fisherman’s cottages sell for around £350,000 to £400,000.

Best for surfer dudes: Polzeath.

This former fishing village has evolved into one of the stars of the Cornish coast, nicknamed the British St Tropez by Tatler Magazine.

We can’t promise South of France weather conditions, but Polzeath’s gradually shelving sandy beach is a great place to learn to surf before moving on to more challenging locations. There are several surf schools to teach you how, plus summer lifeguard coverage.

You won’t go short of a great meal in Polzeath – try Surfside, right on the beach and with its own rum shack, or a seafood platter from the Cracking Crab. 

This is another spot for great walking – you can take the coastal path to admire the views at Pentire Point, climb Brea Hill, or explore small local coves like Greenaway Beach. Wadebridge is nearby for shopping (and a weekly farmers’ market), and the incredible indoor rainforest at the Eden Project makes for a great day trip.

The biggest problem with the property in Polzeath is finding anything to buy – there is a real shortage of homes to buy in this compact village, and its prices are amongst the highest in the south west.

When available, property ranges from new, and nearly new, contemporary houses set on the hill above the town, priced from around £3m, to beachfront penthouses, at around £900,000. 

Best for peaceful breaks: Trevone

A couple of miles out of stylish, foodie Padstow, this calm village is the gateway to Trevone Bay, arguably one of the most beautiful beaches on Cornwall’s northern coast.

The wide expanse of sandy, Blue Flag beach is perfection for bucket and spade breaks, and kids love swimming in the tidal pool, which becomes visible at low tide. Lifeguards are on duty over the summer months.

Trevone is handy for exploration of a cluster of nearby beaches – visit Porthmissen for kayaking or paddleboarding, or Rocky Beach to enjoy the simple pleasures of an afternoon spent rock pooling. 

Trevone itself is intersected by some of Cornwall’s best walking routes, including the South West Coast Path, or you can explore the wilds of Bodmin Moor, spotting wild ponies and ancient stone circles, or visit National Trust-owned properties like Lanhydrock, a late Victorian country house with gardens and woodland. 

Trevone is a quiet village, but it does have a farm shop, and celebrity chef Rick Stein’s gastropub The Cornish Arms is a pleasant half hour walk away.

Little wonder that The Times recently named Trevone as the best place to stay in Cornwall.

Sea-view family houses and bungalows in Trevone are priced at around £1.7m – many of its original bungalows have been torn down and replaced by contemporary houses in recent years.

If you want architectural authenticity you will find barn conversions at around the £1m mark, and three bedroom stone cottages at around £600,000.

Best for sailors: Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo.

Set on opposite sides of the Newton Creek, these twin villages in Devon’s South Hams district have lashings of charm, are peaceful compared to hotspots like Salcombe, and are the ideal spot to mess around on the water.

Transport links are good too. These unspoiled villages are six miles west of Plymouth – from there you can be at London Paddington in a shade over three hours.

Between them the villages offer calm peaceful sailing waters, three pubs, and useful local shops. Some of the homes have private moorings, and there is a marina and boat club at Newton Ferrers, where youngsters can learn the rudiments of sailing and compete in a busy programme of races all through the summer.

The local countryside is made for walking, riding, and cycling, and there are secluded sandy beaches at nearby Mothecombe and Wonwell where you can surf, swim, or bodyboard.

Their comparatively low profile makes these villages good value for money compared to more famous resort towns.. A detached family home overlooking the River Yealm would cost between around £800,000 to £1.2m. A character cottage would trade for between £700,000 and £800,000.

Best for getting back to nature: Mawnan Smith and Helford.

Another set of twin locations – these villages sit on either side of the Helford River on Cornwall’s south coast.

Their riverside location means that sailing is very much on the agenda – and there is a sailing club and a sailing school for amateurs. There is also a chain of small beaches tucked within the river estuary which are sheltered and comparatively peaceful.

This part of the county is criss-crossed by miles of footpaths, taking you through ancient woodland and along tiny creeks, which can equally be explored by kayak or paddleboard. The National Trust’s sub-tropical Glendurgan Gardens on the banks of the Helford, are splendid with plenty of family fun to be had trying to escape its enormous maze. And the Cornish Seal Sanctuary is the place to meet orphaned and injured seals as they are cared for before being released back into the sea. 

Both villages are fairly light on amenities although there are – obviously – pubs. Choose from the Red Lion at Mawnan Smith or the waterfront The Shipwrights Arms at Helford, which also serves food.  Other options include the chic AWNA Coffeehouse at Mawnan Smith, or the nearby Ferry Boat Inn at Helford Passage.

Each also has a village shop, where you can pick up locally produced food. 

Falmouth’s comprehensive range of shops, cafes, and restaurants are five miles away.

The most sought after homes in the villages are those which are set high on the hilltop, with estuary or sea views, and those with direct water access and moorings, and these homes can sell for up to £2m.

There are also some charming village cottages, some of them thatched – expect to pay around £500,000 for a three bedroom property and, given this area’s temperate climate, don’t be surprised to find a palm tree or two in the garden.

We’re ready when you are


We’re ready when you are

We would be delighted to hear from you to discuss your own property requirements. For a non-obligatory consultation, please contact us.

We have an unrivalled track record

We come highly recommended

We come highly recommended.