The Danish have a word for the comfort and well-being of being inside by a fire while the weather outside is terrible. The word ‘Hygge’ sums up a comfort and cosiness which can be found amongst friends and family in a cosy candlelit nook. Although we don’t have a word for this in English, we can all relate to the pleasure of a cosy country pub after a wind-battered walk. I’ve put together this list of South Devon’s best cosy country pubs for you to find your own Hygge.
The Tally Ho is a special little pub, well off the beaten track in Littlehempston. It is South Devon’s first community-owned pub, and somehow this shows in its atmosphere - there is a laid-back charm to this pub which is infectious. The Tally Ho has been central to village life here for nearly 500 years. I’ve drunk some great cask-ales here and eaten some great food, but it’s the atmosphere which makes it truly special.
The Cott Inn has existed, nestled away at the end of Cott Lane, since 1320. That’s 700 years of history in its bricks and beams. It is one of the oldest thatched inns in Britain and you start to soak up its rich atmosphere as soon as you step foot inside. The Cott Inn serves great food and drinks. It’s the perfect place to go after a country walk in the South Hams.
The Ferry Boat Inn is usually full to the gills in summer. People flock to this pub and you can step right out of the beer garden straight onto the sand. I love this pub in summer but I prefer it in winter when I love to take the small ferry boat across to Teignmouth, then go beachcombing along the estuary, before finishing my walk in this lovely pub.
This is another one of those pubs which is hidden well away, but which still manages to thrive. This pub is a great place for Sunday lunch, or for enjoying a drink in their lovely bar or cosy book-nook. It’s just yards away from Maidencombe beach so it’s always popular with dog-walkers and families.
Devon Life readers recently voted this pub as the ‘Best Country Pub in Devon’ and is another pub which is rich in history. For 700 years, the Church House Inn has been central to village life around Marldon. The pub has a lovely relaxed atmosphere and offers a great food menu.
The Steam Packet Inn is a fantastic riverside pub in Totnes where, on winter evenings, you can snuggle up near their huge fire or watch the River Dart go by from their Dining Room. There are great walks on either side of the River Dart.
This pub is one of my favourite places for sitting by the river and watching the world go by slowly as it is built next to a small bridge on the River Dart. This pub is at the opposite end of a fantastic walk along the River Dart from The Steam Packet Inn. If you like to begin and end your country walks in a pub then The Steam Packet to The Waterman’s Arms is a fantastic hour and a half stroll along spectacular countryside.
Deep in the heart of Dartmoor is The Warren House Inn. This pub claims that their fire has been burning since 1845! There is something charming in the idea of a fire which has been alight since the early days of Victoria’s reign. All the favourite local ales like Doom Bar, Tribute and Otter are available here and if it’s food you’re after you could try a home-made 'Warreners Pie' packed full of freshly caught rabbit.
The Pilchard Inn
For those who like the dramatic feeling of winter seas battering your windows while you hide indoors, then the Pilchard Inn is a must. Pubs don’t get much closer to the sea than this former smuggler’s haunt. Set on the beautiful Burgh Island, it is cut off from the mainland at high tide, and the only access is by sea-tractor. This isolation adds another layer of cosiness to this charming pub. This is a beautiful place to sit and watch the weather change the colours of the sea.
With a treacherously steep road leading to it, the Cary Arms rewards the intrepid with fantastic views overlooking the tiny harbour at Babbacombe Bay, Torquay. This is one of the best places to enjoy fish and chips in South Devon. My family love to take the cliff railway down to Oddicombe Beach then walk along the sea-front to enjoy the atmosphere of this fantastic sea-side pub.