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Unspoilt villages, rugged moorland and golden beaches – Devon is brimming with heritage, natural beauty and fresh sea air. From tranquil boat trips along the Jurassic Coast and hikes through National Parks to surfing in azure waters and tucking into locally caught seafood, here’s a taste of all Devon has in store if you’re dreaming of a British adventure…
With the Bristol Channel to the north and the English Channel to the south, Devon is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Britain.
Why not start with Croyde Bay, in North Devon. This glistening beach is surrounded by sand dunes and benefits from impressive waves, making it a popular surfing spot. If you’re longing for sand between your toes, you can also visit nearby Woolacombe Beach, which boasts three miles of uninterrupted golden sand to explore. Alternatively there’s Saunton Sands. Suitable for beginner surfers and swimmers, this picturesque beach is highly accessible with all-terrain wheelchair hire on offer, and is backed by Braunton Burrows, a system of sand dunes teaming with rare local wildlife.
Fancy sitting back and enjoying a tour of Devon’s coastal delights? Hop on a Stuart Line Cruise to enjoy a calming voyage down the River Exe, or glide alongside England’s only natural World Heritage Site, the stunning Jurassic Coast and its fossil-filled cliffs, which reveal 185 million years of history.
Devon’s natural beauty doesn’t stop at the coast. Travel a short distance inland from Torquay or Plymouth and you’ll discover the rugged moorlands, river valleys and ancient stone circles of Dartmoor National Park. It’s also home to herds of wild ponies, which have roamed the area since prehistoric times. Just one of Dartmoor’s gems is Haytor. Located in the south east of the Park, here you can discover striking granite rocks and sweeping panoramic views. If you’re visiting North Devon, you can also take a trip to Exmoor National Park, which boasts miles of cycling and hiking routes to explore.
If you’re longing for a stripped-back getaway, you can dream of wild camping in selected parts of Dartmoor, allowing you to wake up to spectacular views in one of the few National Parks that allows it.
Prefer to travel on two wheels? Why not try a day of cycling along the Tarka Trail. This 180-mile, figure-of-eight path through North Devon and Exmoor is the longest traffic-free route in the UK and is peppered with moorland, wooded valleys, cliffs and sandy beaches. Exmoor is also known for its dazzlingly clear night skies and was designated Europe’s first Dark Sky Reserve.
In addition to the region’s sweeping countryside and stretches of coastline, you can discover some of Devon’s rich heritage at Buckfast Abbey. Located within Dartmoor National Park, this unique church was founded by King Canute in 1018. Widely known for the production of Buckfast Tonic Wine, it is still home to a community of Benedictine monks today. Marvel at the elaborate stone architecture, wander the picturesque lavender gardens, or even enjoy a stay in the Abbey grounds.
Then there’s Exeter Cathedral. One of the region’s architectural icons, this 900-year old example of Gothic design combines stone pillars, stained-glass windows and the longest uninterrupted Medieval vaulted ceiling in the world, making it an unmissable sight.
Devon’s historic seaside towns and unspoilt fishing villages are another jewel in its crown. These include Clovelly, North Devon, a 14th-century cliff-side village once owned by the Queen of England. South Devon is also laden with cosy coastal settlements, including Dittisham and Hope Cove, an idyllic village nestled alongside the South West Coast Path.
No introduction to Devon would complete without mentioning Torquay. Located on a stretch of coast known as the English Riviera, the town is known for its elegant restaurant-lined harbour brimming with yachts and boats. The birthplace of Agatha Christie, it’s a fascinating spot for fans of the novelist, who can trace her footsteps along the Agatha Christie Literary Trail and visit a wealth of sights connected to the author, including Torquay Museum and the Potent Plants Garden. If you’re travelling with family, you may also enjoy the nearby Babbacombe Model Village, with its immaculate landscaped gardens., Alternatively, why not explore Torre Abbey, or journey through Victorian England at Bygones, an immersive reconstruction packed with nostalgia.
If you have a penchant for seafood, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Devon. For fresh oysters and shellfish, plan a trip to the Oyster Shack in Bigbury, South Devon. With a menu that changes with the catch of the day, expect delicacies that range from local rock oysters to lobster, crab and hand-dived scallops.
The perfect complement to seafood is a crisp white wine, so why not complete your foodie tour with a trip to Sharpham Vineyard. Located under 20 miles from Beesands Beach, you can enjoy wine and cheese tasting sessions, a vineyard tour and, during spring and summer, an alfresco meal at The Cellar Door.
You are encouraged to always check individual attraction websites for the latest information, as events and details are subject to change.