These houses are perfect for messing about in boats, on the river or the sea.

Unlike other areas of the prime UK property sector, the market for waterside homes in premium coastal locations appears to be weathering the storm. And as Britain’s sailors take to the water for the August regatta season in a frenzy of maritime mayhem, a canny few, armed with local knowledge, will have their binoculars trained on the coastline in the hope of spotting the waterside home of their dreams.

In the case of the enviable Spearbed Copse (Fig 1) in Dock Lane, Beaulieu—known locally as ‘Hampshire’s Millionaire Row’—the only way this magical woodland retreat on the eastern bank of the River Beaulieu can be viewed by outsiders is from the water below. Built in the 1930s, in the Tudor style of timber and rendered walls under a thatched roof with leaded-light windows that was all the rage at the time, Spearbed Copse has been owned by the Showering family of Babycham fame since the early 1960s.

Set in more than 12 acres of wonderful woodland gardens, with a swimming pool, a tennis court, a boathouse, a private deep-water jetty and direct access to the waters of the Solent, it is now for sale through Knight Frank (020–7629 8171) at a guide price of £8 million.

Protected on all sides by the sylvan Beaulieu estate, Spearbed Copse offers 5,540sq ft of pleasantly old-fashioned accommodation on three floors in the main house, including three reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, three bedroom suites, four bed- rooms and a family bathroom. Nearby Wendy’s Cottage, converted from the original garage block, provides a further 2,290sq ft of living space, with a large, open-plan living room, a kitchen and two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.

For serious hands-on sailors and their budding Swallows and Amazons, nowhere quite matches the appeal—or the range—of the waterside properties that line the estuaries of the scenic South-West, which combine a choice of the UK’s best marinas and sailing clubs with shelter from the worst of the weather. The bustle of life on the water is a constant source of entertainment for landlubbers lazing on their terraces.

waterside properties for sale

Fig 2: Laze on the sun terrace at Waterside, at Lower Batson, Devon, or get on the creek. £1.5m

Houses with direct water access and private moorings always command a premium, with the best often remaining within the same family for generations. Harriet Cundy of Devon agents Marchand Petit (01548 844473) is handling the sale—at a guide price of £1.5m—of the iconic Waterside (Fig 2) on the water’s edge at Lower Batson, near Salcombe, which has been in the hands of its current owners since the early 1980s.

Immediately recognisable to anyone who has sailed these waters, the south-facing, Victorian stone house rises directly above the water near the slipway on Batson Creek. Its own mooring can be accessed from a gate at the bottom of the garden and its lofty position—and large sun terrace running the length of the main house—ensures uninterrupted views of the creek and the surrounding countryside. The creek itself leads into Salcombe Harbour and on out to sea.

During their tenure, the vendors have modernised and updated the house, whose stone walls, covered with climbing roses, jasmine and fuschia, are complemented by green-painted shutters on all the first-floor windows. The main house has a tidy, 1,454sq ft of accommodation, arranged on two floors, with a large sitting room, a dining room and a kitchen/breakfast room on the ground floor and a master suite, two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first. A recently built garden room opens onto the terrace and gardens and has the same enchanting views of the creek.

With Europe becoming more expensive for sterling buyers in the wake of Brexit, owning a home in Devon or Cornwall suddenly makes a lot of sense for families keen to take to the waves, says Jonathan Cunliffe of Savills in Truro (01872 243200), a keen sailor himself, who quotes a guide price of £1.75m for Waterside House (Fig 3), in the quaint, unspoilt fishing village of Polruan, which is bounded by the River Fowey and the sea.

waterside properties for sale

Fig 3: On the waterfront: with amazing views, Waterside House in Polruan, Cornwall is on the market for the first time in 15 years. £1.75m

Presently owned by the architect Robert Davis, whose passion is racing Fowey’s unique Troy-class boats and who commutes between his practice in Romset and his home in Polruan, the site of Waterside House was once home to Slade’s shipyard, whose flagship schooner, Jane Slade, was the inspiration for Daphne du Maurier’s first novel The Loving Spirit.

It later housed the local dinghy club, and then the Waterside Bistro, which was converted into a family home in the 1980s. In 2002, the entire house was upgraded and the interior redesigned by Mr Davis, who is now downsizing.

For sale for the first time in 15 years, Waterside House occupies a spectacular waterfront position with magnificent views over the River Fowey. Its 3,790sq ft of living space includes a huge open-plan reception/dining/ kitchen area, a covered terrace for alfresco dining, a study, master and guest suites and three bedrooms, plus a large loft room, currently used as a gym/sail loft and occasional bedroom. A detached, 24ft-long, purpose-built boathouse leads out to the waterside terrace with its private quay, two sets of steps to the water and two outhaul moorings for boats up to 4.5m (15ft) (subject to Harbour Commissioner’s licence).

** Search more spectacular properties for sale