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Devon attractions off the beaten track

Many attractions in Devon remain the same from one season to the next, but we suggest some new places to consider which are more off the beaten track.
With free admission and holding the Museum of the Year Award 2012, there has never been a better time to visit the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. The building dates back to 1868, and like many other museums associated with the Victorian era, it is a fabulous Gothic edifice in Venetian style with ornate detail at every opportunity. Newly redeveloped, it is filled exhibits and collections from artworks and botanical specimens to Tibetan temple masks and Honiton lace, so it has something to fascinate every visitor. Those looking for somewhere deliciously different to dine can also pop into the Museum Café for coffee or lunch.

Still in Exeter, you may think that a visit to Exeter Cathedral should not be on the list of unusual places to visit, but 2012 is the first time the Cathedral has offered regular guided tours of its roof space. This is certainly “one up” on the Exeter Underground Passages, another fantastic unique attraction if you haven’t already done it!

Killerton House and Garden in Broadclyst is a superb day out for families with children. There is a Dragon Quest Trail in the park and a Mouse Trail in the house. Young visitors can try on a range of Victorian costumes and pick up a tracker pack from the Discovery Centre for more activities. What’s more, there are 60 miles of footpaths starting on the 6,400 acre estate and a 5km cycle track that starts from the stable block.

Wine aficionados will be delighted that they do not have to visit continental Europe to enjoy wine tasting right from the vineyard. Yearlstone Vineyard in the scenic Exe Valley welcomes visitors and has its own Vineyard Terrace and Wine Bar. You can enjoy lunch from the Deli Bar and taste the home-produced wines overlooking the very vines that produced it. There is a custom-built winery which hosts wine courses during the summer months.

The Grand Western Canal at Tiverton offers some very unusual trips including horse-drawn barge trips through the scenic countryside from Tiverton. If you fancy exploring more independently, there are rowing boats for hire and electric motor launches. You can walk along the tow path or hire bicycles from Abbotshood Cycle Hire in Halberton – the owners are happy to provide a drop-off and pick-up service anywhere along the canal. Look out for swans, kingfishers and other wildlife on this 11 mile stretch of unspoilt countryside between Tiverton and Lowdswells.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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