Devon is a truly beautiful county, rich in contrasts, with wild moorland, rolling hills and rugged cliffs, lush green valleys, rivers and woodlands. It is the only county in England with two separate coastlines, a total of 250 miles – 65% of which has been designated as Heritage Coast. The South West Coast Path runs along the entire length of both coasts. Around 630 miles in total, the path runs from Minehead in Somerset, to Poole in Dorset. The south-east coast from Salcombe to Exmouth (which includes Dawlish Warren) is one of the sunniest parts of the UK.
Devon has two cities – Exeter, which is the capital and Plymouth, which is the larger of the two. There are bustling market towns and numerous pretty villages, hundreds of beaches ranging from tiny secluded coves to long stretches of golden sand.
When you visit Devon you will discover that there is more to this spectacular and diverse county than you realised. As well as beautiful beaches and stunning scenery, you will find historic buildings, castles and ruins, extreme sports and the best in food and drink. With so much to do and see, the most difficult decision you’ll have to make is where in this unique county you want to visit first!
Enjoy the great Devon outdoors with adventure and watersports such as kayaking, canoeing, abseiling, cycling, walking, climbing, horse riding, golf – the list goes on and on! Or visit one of the many Amusement Parks, such as The Big Sheep, Crealy Adventure Park, Woodlands or Diggerland or enjoy a visit to see the 500 or so donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth.
Discover the wilder side of Devon by climbing a tor, or fishing the River Dart on Dartmoor National Park, swinging through the trees at Go Ape or powering down the woodland tracks at Haldon Forest. You can even ski all year round at the Plymouth Ski and Snowboard Centre.
The South West’s largest indoor climbing wall at Quay Climbing Centre in Exeter’s Historic Quayside is a must for any climbing enthusiast.
Arts and Culture
If you fancy something a little less energetic, there is a great range of threatres, museums and art galleries all around Devon. Some wonderful exhibits are on offer at locations such as Dawlish Museum, Teign Heritage Centre in Teignmouth, The Devon Guild of Craftsmen in Bovey Tracey, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter, Dartmoor Prison Museum, Plymouth City Museum and Arts Gallery, Babbacombe Model Village and the Torquay Museum to name just a few.
Less than five miles from Dawlish Warren is the magnificent Powderham Castle and Gardens, with Deer Park, open to the public from April to the end of October each year. The Castle is the home of the Earl and Countess of Devon and holds a vast range of events throughout the season.
Devon has inspired many famous works of literature, and has proved to be a popular location for films and TV. Dartmoor has provided the setting for several classics including “War Horse” which was made into an award-winning feature film, directed by Stephen Speilberg, who said afterwards that he had never before, in his long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as he experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor. And, with two-and-a-half weeks of extensive coverage of landscapes and skies, he hardly scratched the surface of the visual opportunities that were offered to him.
The Donald Crowhurst film ‘The Mercy’ set in Teignmouth and starring Colin Firth is set for release in 2017.
South-east Devon was the much-loved home of Agatha Christie, who used local surroundings in many of her novels. Her famous character, Poirot, was made into the popular television series starring David Suchet. The episode ‘Dead Man’s Folly’, was filmed at her holiday home, Greenway House near Brixham – you can even catch a ferry there from Dartmouth.
Dartmoor National Park
Situated in the very heart of Devon and covering 368 square miles, Dartmoor is a landscape of stunning views, majestic and rugged granite tors, deep wooded valleys with fast flowing rivers, and an abundance of wide open spaces, ideal for cycling and walking – there are circular walks, guided walks, planned routes ideal for families, lasting from half an hour to a full day – including ones which are designed to put the children in charge! Dartmoor is home to all manner of wildlife, from the 1,500 Dartmoor Ponies wandering the moor, to the rare marsh fritillary butterflies and rare birds such as the red backed shrike. There are species here that you won’t find anywhere else in the British Isles.
From rare wildlife, to tradition, folklore and farming on horseback, Dartmoor has it all. It has Neolithic monuments, stone circles, menhirs, stone crosses as well as ancient woodlands and villages, and also the largest number of archaeological remains in Europe.
For picture postcard Dartmoor villages with thatched cottages and rambling lanes, try Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Lustleigh or Moretonhampstead. For historic market towns with traditional stores, tearooms and craft shops, head to Tavistock, Bovey Tracey or Chagford. If you fancy folklore and Dartmoor myths and legends, Princetown is the place to be, most famous of course for its austere and forbidding prison which was built in 1809.
Food and Drink
With wonderful local produce and excellent producers, Devon’s food and drink is well-known for being outstanding. In recent years Devon has started to attract more and more big-name chefs, such as Michael Caines, Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall, James & Chris Tanner, Gary Rhodes, Mitch Tonks and Anton Piotrowski.
With its abundance of places to eat in Devon, from bistros, foodie pubs to fine dining restaurants, award-winning tea rooms, street food and take-aways, the quality and choice of places to eat is one of the key reasons why many people love to visit.
“Lovely location, super accommodation and excellent entertainment. In short, a great family holiday”
“Welcome is the nicest and cleanest holiday park we have ever been to and is the best value for money. The pools are excellent and warm and the entertainment is fantastic”
“We love to go to the pools every day. The site is so clean and well designed. We like the short walk to the beach”
“The entertainment was superb and the children can’t wait to come back”
“We like the location, close to everything. Tidy place with facilities on the park”
“It’s amazing how much there is to do around there”
“The beach is wonderful. The kids absolutely love it”
“A real family holiday, the kids loved it and there was something for everyone”
“Good location for people travelling by train. Tidy, well kept, friendly staff. Lovely pool, close to supermarket, excellent family holiday!”
“The children love the pools. We can’t get them out of there!”
“Can we come back next year? I want to see my friends again”
“I love it here. It’s so much fun!”