Ever since I was young, films have inspired my wish list of where to go on holiday. I’m not alone — not only is it big business for destinations to highlight their appeal based around a movie, film commissions spend loads of money courting filmmakers to shoot at their locations. Where have you been as a result of seeing the destination on a film?
When it came to shooting The Mercy, however, if the filmmakers wanted authenticity there was no choice. They needed to go to South Devon to shoot their film in Teignmouth. That’s because The Mercy, a new film featuring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz, is all about the tragedy of the disgraced yachtsman Donald Crowhurst.
Crowhurst set out from Teignmouth in 1968 in an attempt to win the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race around the world. His boat wasn’t up to it and neither was his seamanship. He faced financial ruin back home and so began falsifying his progress with plans to limp in last. Because of developments in the race, it appeared that he was actually set to win or later break the ‘elapsed time’ race. He ceased radio contact and his boat was later found adrift and empty. Crowhurst is believed to have accidentally drowned or committed suicide.
And the name of the film? For those who don’t the story, you’ll have to wait to discover why the title is ‘The Mercy’. It’s poignant, heartbreaking and human.
It’s a terribly sad story, but it puts Teignmouth back in the eye as a gorgeous and storied place to visit. I went for a weekend with my husband and two teens, in a visit organised by Visit South Devon. We discovered a wonderfully traditional seaside village that is updated with good food and plenty of kid-friendly activities.
Here, ideas for planning a trip to Teignmouth:
Visit Teignmouth Harbour
There is a seaside beach and the harbourside, which is where much of the location work was shot for the film. It’s colourful, picturesque and calm enough for an enjoyable day out on the water. Set out on your own sea voyage with SeaSports South West, a family-owned outfit that can set you up with kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, windsurfing boards and more.
Teignmouth has cultivated a foodie reputation lately, buoyed by the availability of fresh seafood and dynamic eateries.
The Seafood Deli in Teignmouth serves ethically sourced local catch netted on its own boats to eat in or take away.
Or take the quaint Teignmouth to Shaldon Ferry, billed as the oldest foot passenger ferry in England, across the water to Shaldon. We had a fantastic lunch at the award-winning Cafe ODE — part of a small suite of restaurants created by chef Tim Bouget. They are all dedicated to sustainable food with local provenance. Read more about my lunch here with two finicky teens — and order the Crowhurst Chowder if you go. It’s packed full of seafood and is satisfyingly rich.
Other things to do in Teignmouth
The Teign Heritage Centre – This museum delves into the shipgoing history of the area as well as the colourful characters and the surrounding villages
Mini-golf on the seafront – It’s the Gleneagles of mini-golf, in view of the water. Dinosaur sculptures, water hazards, almost impossible holes-in-one. The perfect place to work on your mini-golf handicap.
The Pier – Crowds waved off Crowhurst when he set sail from the harbour in 1968. It’s still here and still a throwback to the traditional seaside amusements.
Stay someplace cool
The Linney – This self-catering cottage owned by Cofton Holidays had us swooning, when we weren’t cooking delicious meals or marinating in the hot tub. Read my full review of the stay here.
Shaldon Beach Huts – These little luxury huts would be fun for a couple’s visit. We walked by them on our ramble through Shaldon. They are *tiny* but adorable. Check them out in this review by On the Luce.
If you go
Visit South Devon, www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk
The Seafood Deli, The Old Harbour Masters Office, New Quay Street, Teignmouth South Devon TQ14 8DA 07585223299 http://www.crabshackdeli.co.uk/
SeaSports South West, New Quay St, Teignmouth TQ14 8DA http://www.seasports-sw.com/
The Teign Heritage Centre, www.teignheritage.org.uk/
Jurassic Adventure Golf, Powderham Terrace, Teignmouth, South Devon TQ14 8BL jurassicgolfteignmouth.co.uk
More ideas for planning your trip
Tell us your travels!
Have you been to Teignmouth? Tell us in the comments what you like about it, or tell where you’ve been, inspired by a film.