Situated at the western extremity of England, the rugged coastline, spectacular countryside and breath-taking scenery of Devon and Cornwall provide an enchanting escape in the early spring. Take in the crisp spring air while wandering one of the region’s many first class beaches and spy on an eclectic mix of wildlife while exploring the great outdoors, or venture inside into a wealth of galleries, museums and restaurants should the weather take a dramatic turn. Whatever you choose to do in Devon and Cornwall this spring, there is plenty to keep you entertained…
Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Rame Peninsula is packed with exceptional walking routes and magnificent scenery, alongside picturesque villages with a rich smuggling history. Much of the region is part of the Mount Edgecumbe Country Park, a delightful collection of formal gardens, open parkland and ancient woodland that are awash with colour come the spring.
A short distance up the coast is the charming fishing village of Polperro, a small unspoilt harbour set against a stunning backdrop of steep-sided hills and greenery that makes it an artist's paradise. A smuggling museum explains the village’s infamous past, while the Polperro Music and Arts Festival takes place annually in June.
Offering delightful views at every turn, one of the best ways to explore the region is by walking along the South West Coast Path. Some 630 miles of paths make up this section of the national England Coast Path, allowing you to immerse yourself in the spectacular geology, heritage and wildlife of Devon and Cornwall, as well as parts of Dorset and Somerset. Much of the hiking trail can be broken up into small chunks, providing ample opportunity to explore with the family before enjoying a picnic or a delicious pub lunch.
A delightful mix of national and international chefs descend on the harbour port of Porthleven in late April for the annual Porthleven Food Festival, a highlight on Cornwall’s culinary calendar. The 3-day festival of food from 17-19 April includes numerous street food stalls selling everything from divine local produce to gastronomic delights from around the world, while music and entertainment take place day and night.
Early May sees the return of the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink too, which takes pride of place in the scenic grounds of Exeter Castle Courtyard and Northernhay Gardens. Indulge in the region’s best culinary delights and enjoy copious demonstrations from both local and celebrity chefs.
The St Ives Food and Drink Festival follows a week later on Porthminster Beach, and again welcomes a host of celebrity chefs as well as an array of entertainment and live music. Plymouth also comes alive at the end of May each year, as Lord Mayor’s Day celebrates the arrival of the city’s new mayor with a parade and street entertainment.
The early spring brings with it an abundance of fresh greenery and this is especially true in the many great gardens that are dotted across Cornwall. From the lovingly reclaimed Lost Gardens of Heligan to the formal gardens of Antony House and Garden, which featured in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland film, the county is home to some of Britain’s most spectacular gardens. The medieval Cotehele House and Gardens is also home to an exquisite Valley Garden with quaint paths leading down to a historical quayside and mill.
The coastal town and historical port of Looe features an abundance of appealing eateries, as well as a beautiful sandy beach. Hunt for crabs along the long harbour wall or clamber aboard a vessel and go in search of mackerel as part of a fishing trip from the working fishing port.
Found at the north eastern tip of Dartmoor, Dunsford Nature Reserve is famed for being transformed into a sea of yellow in the early spring when thousands of wild daffodils flower. Within its confines you’ll find the spectacular Teign Valley, which is home to numerous fallow deer, otters and tawny owls, as well as an abundance of other wildlife.
Known as the English Riviera thanks to its beautiful beaches, tranquil towns and family holiday atmosphere, the stretch of Devon coastline between Torquay and Brixham – designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark in recognition of its incredible geology and landscapes – is also renowned for its seafood. Alongside the region’s sandy beaches and serene coastal walks, Paignton Zoo features an array of specially designed habitats that are home to more than 2,500 animals and the spring often brings with it a host of new-borns. From late March, the zoo will also house the Great Big Brick Safari, a collection of more than 80 giant animals made from more than one million LEGO bricks!