The picture perfect village of Ringmore has a history spanning back to Anglo Saxon times and is just a short walk away from the stunning secluded Ayrmer Cove which is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered along the Devon coastline in South West England. Here’s your guide to the best things to do in Ringmore, as well as how to visit Arymer Cove.
Set in the glorious South Hams, Ringmore is a tranquil village set at the head of a verdant valley, full of pretty cottages, a beautiful church and a pub in a 13th century building. On top of this it’s located just half a mile from a fabulous secluded beach, Ayrmer Cove. All the ingredients for a perfect visit if you wish to escape the crowds, whether that be for a day trip or a stay in one of the many pretty holiday cottages in the vicinity.
The village, pre-dating William’s invasion of England, gets a mention in the Domesday Book. Despite being part of a manor, there was never a resident lord of the manor in Ringmore and so, unfortunately, there’s little documentary evidence of what transpired here historically throughout the centuries. What is certain is that the sandy bay at Challaborough was used, by the villagers, to launch fishing boats to catch pilchards which was the primary source of income in the area and most probably for smuggling.
Towards the lower end of the village, you’ll find the Journey’s End Inn, which dates back to the turn of the 14th century. It’s reputed that in times gone by smugglers used to hide their contraband, that they’d carried up from the beach, within these very walls. Nowadays, this friendly pub stocks a large range of ales and fresh locally sourced produce, making it the perfect place to stop-off after taking a trip to the nearby – Ayrmer Cove.
Ringmore Church – All Hallows’
The attractive 13th Century Church of All Hallows, built circa 1240, stands on the highest point right in the heart of the village. There are some elements of the church that potentially date to the 12th century, or even pre-Norman Conquest (1066) to the Anglo Saxon period; and are believed to belong to a much smaller edifice that was incorporated into the north side of the building.
In the north transept, there’s a deeply splayed window, the walls being much deeper than the rest of the church, which may well be part of this earlier 11th or 12th-century building.
The 19th-century glass is that of St Piran (or Pyran) who was a 5th-century Cornish saint originally born in Ireland. He is the Patron Saint of Tinners and one of three Patron Saints of Cornwall. (The Cornish Flag is also known as St. Piran’s flag).
The tower was added in the mid-14th century and apparently was home to Royalist rector, William Lane, for a number of weeks during the English Civil War before he fled to France.
Francis Charles Hingeston-Randolph (1833-1910) Rector of Ringmore Village Church
The interior of the church is charming and much of the interior we see today owes much to the efforts of Francis Charles Hingeston-Randolph. He became rector of Ringmore Church in 1860 until his death in 1910 and was made prebendary (ie. an honorary canon) of Exeter Cathedral in 1885.
Hingeston-Randolph was an antiquary and was particularly passionate about the ecclesiastical restoration of West Country churches. He wrote numerous articles on the subject. All Hallows’ was in a terrible state of repair by the time he became rector and so he set about the restoration work over a period of three years, often using his own money.
The attractive organ was installed in 1863 and was fabricated by Bevington & Sons whose organs can be seen across the world including St. George’s Cathedral Cape Town, English College, Rome and that of St. Martin’s in the Fields.
During his restoration work, the industrious rector uncovered a wall mural on the chancel arch which apparently dates back to the Medieval period. This may be the case, however, the manner in which it has been restored certainly make it feel mid-Victorian rather than from the 14/15th centuries.
Ayrmer Cove – Hidden Gem of the South Hams
Ayrmer Cove, owned by the National Trust, is a wonderful secluded sandy beach that, due to its location, is never overcrowded. There are plenty of rock pools to explore either side of the surprisingly spacious beach and wonderful soft sand, perfect for a paddle or letting your dog go for a swim.
As the beach is so secluded there are no lifeguards at the location.
The beach is situated on the South West Coastal Path and can be accessed from nearby Challaborough. The walk over the cliffs is fairly steep but the views are magnificent.
Alternatively, and by far the easiest route, is get to the village of Ringmore and park in the National Trust car park. From there it’s just a half mile down to the beach. There’s also a circular walk of approximately three miles that takes you past some breathtaking scenery and more importantly past the Journey’s Inn for that long-awaited refreshment!
Bigbury-on-Sea – with a fabulous sandy beach, an island with a 14th-century pub and a stunning Art Deco hotel there’s certainly plenty to see.
South Devon Chilli Farm – Paradise for chilli lovers with every goodie you can possibly imagine chock full of chillies … from jams to chocolate. And during the summer months, you can visit the polytunnels where there’s an incredible assortment of unusual plants and seeds to view and purchase. With an on-site restaurant serving fresh food, what more could you wish for?
South Milton Church – Just a mile inland from the iconic Thurlestone Rocks is the beautiful 13th century Church of All Saints. It’s interesting to see just how differently the depiction of the Saints on the rood screen were executed.