Southwest is best for the ultimate seaside bolthole

EARLIER this week, a beach in Cornwall came up for sale. On 13 July, the 76 acres of Gwithian beach will be sold by property consultant Colliers CRE in its Portman Square auction house, with the price expected to be in the region of £50,000. A bunch of dunes might not be your idea of a sound investment, but it shows that the area once half-jokingly known as the English Riviera still captures the imagination of Brits.
Cornwall and Devon are among the most beautiful spots in the world, and even before the pound plunged, trendy folk were heading South – it’s not for nothing Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver have set up shop in Cornwall, or that places like Rock have become de rigueur for fun-loving public school types. And Devon, with its main city of Torquay, forever associated with the bourgeois Britishness of Fawlty Towers, has become a seriously savvy place to lay down roots. Now is the time to do it, too, as prices have sunk 20-25 per cent since 2007, with properties in Devon generally cheaper than those in Cornwall.

It’s not as far as you might think, either. Although the train ride of five hours to Newquay might be offputting, you can get direct flights between London City and Newquay for as little as £29 with Air South West. And, says Jonathan Cunliffe, of Savills’ Truro office, the dual carriageway that goes all the way from London to Truro has “had a big impact”. “The beauty of Cornwall is that it caters to everyone,” he says. “There’s lots of camping on the coast for families on a budget; there’s sailing on the south coast and surfing on the north.”
The savvy developers of Cornwall Woodland Homes in Tregoric in Cornwall are aware of the desirability of owning a home here, and have just built a smart new estate designed for letting out by owners, who can use the property for six weeks per year and collect rental income throughout the rest. Two-bed properties start at £318,500 and come fully furnished and equipped, rather a steal by London standards.
Torquay is full of Victorian mansions – it was a popular resort for rich industrialists and their families, who craved fresh air as a respite from the soot-infused cities where they lived. John Couch, of John Couch Estate Agents in Torquay, says: “We’ve got quite a few of these left, with lots of bedrooms for all the industrialists’ children. They tend to go for £1.5m.”
Couch says that it’s hard to beat the fresh air that comes off the sea in Devon and that because it’s 200 feet above sea level, the views from properties along its 10 miles of coast are second to none. For sandy beaches, there is Torre Abbey Sands (named after the oldest building in Torquay); Preston Sands, Painton Beach and Broad Sands, to name just a few. “Just over £1m can buy you a breathtaking panoramic view of the sea,” says Couch. “Torquay is a good old English seaside resort that’s changed very little and hasn’t been commercialised.” Eat your heart out, St Tropez.

Price: £1.5m
Idyllic and remote, with stunning views of St Austell Bay. Two boathouses, a guest cottage and four bedrooms, including two en suites.

Call Savills on 01872243200,

Price: £2m
A 5,000 sq ft art-deco style house with wide bay views and state of the art technology inside. Capri meets Devon.

Call John Couch Estate Agents on 01803 296500,

Price: £595,000
Panoramic view of Tor Bay, with generous terracing and a short distance from Meadfoot Beach and fashionable Wellswood Village.

Call John Couch Estate Agents on 01803 296500,

Price: Price on application
A 10,000 sq ft expanse of light and contemporary design, set on a cliff with breathtaking views. An indoor swimming pool is just one perk.

Call Lillicrap Chilcott on 01872 273473,