Kingsbridge: jewel in South Devon's crown
Kingsbridge is a market town on the edge of a beautiful estuary in the sought-after South Hams area of Devon. With a population of 5,800, the place is no sleepy backwater – the streets throng with tourists in the summer season thanks to its great pubs, shops and proximity to unspoilt beaches such as Slapton Sands, Thurlestone and Bigbury on Sea.
The town has an enviable community spirit, with a music festival in June and carnival (pictured opposite) during Fair Week in July. There's fun to be had for all ages with many thriving year-round clubs and associations – Kingsbridge is no ghost town in winter, even when the tourists have departed.
However, a visit to Kingsbridge in the summer can entail sharing the small country lanes with caravans and "townie" drivers, which will almost certainly double your journey time.
The annual agricultural show in September is a popular social event among locals and farmers, with a true Devonian ambience. Kingsbridge also plays host to many tourists and locals based in the smaller town of Salcombe nearby, in search of shopping, restaurants and coffee shops.
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The warm and friendly Kingsbridge pubs offer a vibrant social life for locals to socialise in the wintery weather. For such a small town, Kingsbridge offers a surprising variety of sporting opportunities, ranging from aerobics to rugby. Indeed, what with surfing and sailing, painting pottery and visiting the local museum, Kingsbridge caters for a wide range of ages and preferences.
The local farmers' market, on the morning of the first and third Saturday of every month, adds to the rural feel of the town.
Kingsbridge's estuary location also means it is much-loved by water-sports enthusiasts, offering boat hire, and sailing instruction. From peaceful rural cliff walks to a dance in Kingsbridge's only nightclub, Coast, there is always something to do.
Perhaps inevitably given its many charms, Kingsbridge boasts some of the priciest homes in the South West, closely following Sandbanks in Dorset in the property market's upper echelons. But the town is diverse enough to cater also for a range of buyers, with some first homes and good retirement opportunities.
Kingsbridge has its own primary and secondary school, as well as surrounding village primary schools. So if you're looking for the best of both worlds: a tranquil, friendly winter and a bustling summer, then Kingsbridge is for you.