There have been some pretty bad storms over the last week with the highest wind speed ever recorded in the UK down here in the South West. We didn’t escape ourselves, with a flat roof three storeys up sustaining damage. It was a pretty nasty time for our guests too who had timed their breaks away for the same period.
If you are unlucky enough to arrive in bad weather yourselves, don’t worry, there’s a whole host of things to do and see if it’s raining and windy. Here’s twenty things to do when the weather is bad on the English Riviera (or easily travelled to whilst using Torquay as your base).
I love afternoon tea, so an excuse like bad weather is just the thing I need to justify stuffing my face with cake and sandwiches! Of course there’s a whole host of places to choose from. Almost every café and tea room will serve a traditional Devon cream tea (lashings of clotted cream as a base with a good dollop of jam on top). If you want the full works, you could try the Grand Hotel, Belgrave Sands or The Imperial in Torquay. If you wanted a really special treat, why not try Bovey Castle or Gidleigh Park which are a little drive but worth it?
Underground it’s always dry and the same temperature. Kents Cavern was lived in as far back as prehistoric times and is an important part of our global Geopark status on the English Riviera and includes a museum explaining more about it. If the bad weather clears up afterwards, there's a circular walk you can do from their car park.
Wander back in time at Bygones with a life size authentic Victorian street scene, and hop on the 27 ton steam engine. There's a war time scene along with items from a range of wars and a 1950's shopping arcade. It's the type of place where people of a certain age will be commenting "I used to have one of those when I was young". It's well worth a wander round and there's a car park just a few yards away.
We'd suggest you walk to Torre Abbey as it's only five minutes away at the next set of traffic lights on the way to the seafront. There is also a car park opposite if it's bucketing down. Here you'll find 800 years of history to keep you occupied for a good few hours. It's seen many changes over the years so this varied site offers you the original abbey ruins, the stately home of the Cary family, a museum with a history of Torquay, a poison garden, glass houses and much more. After you've done all that you'll be ready for a traditional Devonshire cream tea (jam on top!) at the on-site café. Hopefully by then the weather will be better and you can sit outside enjoying the views of the sea and explore the pretty gardens and abbey ruins to the full.
This isn't massive but Torquay Museum has been open for over 175 years and has an ever changing and varied set of displays including an interesting one on local author Agatha Christie. Once you've done the museum, cross the road to the bowling alley and have a quick game before wandering back into town to hit the shops.
Yes, you could always go and spend your day in one of the many lovely bars on the seafront watching the storm and crashing waves behind the safety of a window, but I have a much better idea. The Wine Box is only a mile down the road from us, so a brisk walk in bad weather or better still, a taxi, brings you to our local wine supplier. They offer an amazing Gin Making Experience and you get to bring your gin home that you create yourselves. And if gin isn’t your drink of choice then they also offer wine tasting too. What a great way to while away a stormy afternoon!
There’s several locally to choose from including Newton Abbot, Paignton and Brixham, but our closest is half-way along Torquay high street. You’ll have up to an hour to work through the clues and solve the mystery. Afterwards you can wander round the shops or visit the Crime Museum.
Some (mad!) people swim in the sea but I’d advise against it if there’s a storm going on, and instead I’d head just a five minute walk down the road either to TLH Leisure where you’ll also find Aztec Spa and a gym, or opposite is the council run Riviera Centre with a pool and a gym.
We have a lovely old fashioned cinema in Torquay which was originally built as a theatre then a picture house. We love it there, but it’s not going to be long before the company which own it are re-locating to a new site on the high street where there will be multiple screens of varying sizes. If you prefer somewhere larger, there’s a Vue cinema on the seafront in Paignton.
You’re spoilt for choice with four local theatres. Our main theatre is the Princess Theatre in Torquay on the seafront (probably the best views from a theatre bar in the country). They have plenty of major shows and acts and many touring West End musicals. As the birthplace of Agatha Christie, Torquay often puts on her plays too.
The Little Theatre is an amateur theatre in a converted church but they put on very professional looking plays and many of the actors have been in their shows for decades.
Babbacombe Theatre run two more traditional variety shows throughout the summer, along with one off comedy nights.
The Palace Theatre hosts a whole variety of shows, plays and talks and for six weeks throughout the summer have an Agatha Christie play several nights of the week.
A massive discount warehouse type store. It’s roughly the size of twenty large B&Q stores and they sell everything you can think of from plants to crafts, carpets to kitchens and everything in between so if shopping’s your thing, you may well find sanctuary from the rain at Trago Mills.
Newton Abbot Indoor Gun Range
Does what it says on the tin – an indoor activity you may not have tried before and something a little different to while away a couple of hours until the bad weather clears. You could pop into the town centre afterwards.
The Elephant is our local Michelin star restaurant and every year are listed as having one of the most reasonably priced lunch time menus for a Michelin star restaurant. If it’s poor weather, then why not enjoy fine food and a nice bottle of wine and take your time with no where particular to be?
We have a special deal with a local spa offering exclusive access for just £25 per person, and 25% off all treatments. If you have a treatment then you get access to the spa for free. It’s a great way to spend a day, and as they do food there too you can have lunch, a snack or just a drink on site too.
House of Marbles
This is actually quite mesmerising watching the marbles do their thing on the weird marble runs but there’s also the opportunity to do some shopping and visit the café too.
Whether you want to aim for a strike at the bowling alley or you want to try your hand at bowls (it’s much more difficult than it looks!) then we’ve got both on offer in Torquay. When the weather is better, there are several bowling clubs for outdoor bowls too.
Hop on the train to Plymouth where you’ll not only find a whole range or shops but also the Plymouth Gin Distillery (that’s why you’re on the train!) which is really interesting and also the National Marine Aquarium which is the country's largest.
If it’s just rain showers then shopping might be a good idea then you can pop into a shop or café to dodge them. There’s lots on offer - as well as a long traditional high street in Torquay, Exeter and Plymouth are also good options for traditional retailers.
If you’re looking for something a little different, you could try Totnes or Brixham for independent shops, Cockington for craft shops or Dartington.
National Trust property
There’s far too many National Trust properties to mention so it’s best to go and look on line or at my blog on the subject. Many are houses or castles with shops and cafés, then pop into the grounds or gardens once the bad weather has cleared. There are also several English Heritage properties and also independently owned places like Powderham Castle worth the drive.
Quite frankly, if it’s stormy outside, it’s a great excuse not to have to go anywhere. Our comfy drawing room sofas are an ideal place to read a book or the newspaper, and there’s a good selection of games or cards available in there too.
Of course your room will be difficult to leave whatever the weather with Netflix and Prime Video on your Smart TV, snacks and drinks available from the honesty bar (or complimentary in your own fridge for VIP Guests). Why not pre-order a Grazing Box for 2 to save you having to go out for the evening?
So, as you can see, even terrible weather is certainly not going to dampen your holiday with us. There’s more than enough to keep you busy and you’ll be left wondering if you should come back in the Autumn to make more use of the indoor attractions.
See you soon!