Saltash, Torpoint and the village communities dotted around Cornwall's Rame peninsula, are great places to live, work and play

IAN WIKILKINSON explores this friendly area of Cornwall that has welcoming locals, an active community and plenty of charm

The towns of Saltash and Torpoint, and the village communities dotted around the Rame peninsula, offer a unique environment in which to live. Given their proximity to Plymouth, the towns of Saltash and Torpoint have their fair share of commuters, who travel each day via bridge or ferry to work over the border, but they remain vibrant communities in their own right, with a distinctive Cornish feel. As for the villages on the Rame peninsula, they are quiet havens removed from hustle and bustle and, for that matter, summer visitors. Not for nothing is Rame affectionately known as Cornwall's forgotten corner. There are some compelling reasons to choose to live in this part of Cornwall. Here are my top seven.

A sense of belonging

A recent survey named Saltash as one of the most desirable places to live in England. Stable house prices, good schools, and the fostering of community spirit through locally organised events, as well as maintaining ancient traditions, all helped to put the town at the top of the list. Saltash and Torpoint have a reputation for the warmth and friendliness of its people.

A wonderful heritage

Both towns are steeped in history. Isambard Kingdom Brunels iconic Royal Albert Bridge, which connects Saltash to Plymouth, spans the River Tamar with just one central pier and clears the river at a height of 100 feet. Both Torpoint and Saltash have a number of important historic buildings and the Rame peninsula has two gems Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park and the National Trusts Antony House. Mount Edgcumbe in particular is a wonderful resource to have on the doorstep. Some 800 acres of gardens, cliff-top walks, woodlands and architectural follies, it is open every day of the year and is absolutely free. Even on summer weekends you will find peace and quiet, spectacular views and an incredible variety of wildlife here.

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Nice property

There is a very diverse housing market here, ranging from older terraced properties to modern semi-detached estates on the outskirts of both towns, and from period houses set in beautiful countryside to traditional town houses and cottages in the fishing villages of Kingsand and Cawsand.

Getting around

Many thriving communities in Cornwall are idyllically located, at the expense of being somewhat isolated. But this area manages to combine its gorgeous location with some excellent transport links. Ive already mentioned the bridge and ferry 75p for locals one way and free the other way isnt bad value! And the ferry across can be enjoyable get out of the car and go up the stairs to the upper deck and youll see what I mean. Incidentally, there is another ferry thats even more attractive the foot passenger ferry that plies between Stonehouse and Cremyll, with lovely views of the Royal William Yard, the Tamar and the Edgcumbe Country Park. This connects with the Tamar Link bus service that circumnavigates Rame. There is also an excellent train service connecting Saltash and St Germans with Liskeard, Plymouth and beyond. If you are destined even further afield there is the continental ferry port at Plymouth and the airport is a 20-minute drive away.

Boats and birds

There is wealth of marine activities as you would expect, including sailing, gig racing, wreck diving in Whitsand Bay, sea angling, water skiing and, close to Rame Head, some fine surfing. There is wonderful birdwatching all along the coast and particularly in the tiny hamlet of St John, where the mudflats of the River Lynher team with sea and estuary birds some quite exotic.

Leisure activities

Lovers of golf are well catered for. The Whitsand Bay Hotel has a fine 18-hole course and a leisure club, while the international course at St Mellion is just 15 minutes drive from the Tamar Bridge. Saltash itself has a great leisure centre with a well-equipped gym and swimming pool, and nearby is the excellent Burraton Community Centre. But for many residents and visitors the chief leisure activity is walking. It can be as easy or demanding as you like, with a real variety of walks ranging from the cliff-top splendour of the South West Coastal Path to gentle meanders down country lanes, and from town trails to muddy estuary rambles.

Village life

If youre looking for peace and quiet and a way of life that has changed little in recent times, the Rame villages are well worth a look. Millbrook is the largest village almost at the centre of the peninsula. Its surrounded by rolling countryside and is at the head of a pretty creek that is a haven for both birdlife and yachtsmen! St John is an altogether smaller community, with some beautiful houses and cottages, a church and a nice village inn. The twin fishing villages of Kingsand and Cawsand are picture-postcard material. There is little commercial fishing activity these days but the community thrives and there are some decent pubs, a couple of village stores that sell lifes essentials and a good bus service. A man in the Rising Sun pub in Kingsand looked puzzled when I asked him if he liked living in Rame. Whats not to like? he retorted. Its andsom but don't you go telling everybody! The nearby villages of Seaton, St Germans and Cheviock are close too, if not officially on the peninsula.