The county of Devon, or Devonshire as locals may drawl, is definitely the cream of the crop when its comes to visitor attractions. Packed between its rocky north coast coves and the long sandy beaches along the English Riviera, Devon has two national parks, the sea-faring city of Plymouth and the historic county town of Exeter, 22 towns and hundreds of farming communities. It has countless beaches and coves, churches and historic inns and more than its share of National Trust houses and award-winning gardens to be enjoyed in all seasons.
Nothing highlights the difference between the north and south coasts of this rural county better than its two islands. Off the north coast in the Bristol Channel is the rugged and unspoilt Lundy Island, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to a colony of puffins. In contrast, South Devon’s only island is Burgh Island, a tranquil green islet and home to the decadent Art Deco Burgh Island Hotel, a favourite haunt of Agatha Christie.
Inland from this sheltered and sunny south coast are delightful Devon villages with equally charming names: Clyst St Mary, Bishopsteignton, Chudleigh Knighton and Berry Pomeroy. Babbling streams run down from Dartmoor to create broad river estuaries at Dartmouth, Teignmouth and Exmouth.
North Devon has its own hidden gems: Clovelly, Lynton, Appledore and Westward Ho! all have their own character. The South West Coastal Path links small fishing villages and ports with a history dating back to Celtic settlements.
Sandy beaches with certified blue flag waters on either coast have amused countless generations of children. Surfing, damming beach streams, catching prawns and crabs or messing about in boats fills many happy hours.
With such a diverse topography there are a host of things to do in Devon. It offers miles of country walks, local festivals, strolls along the beach, boat trips, scenic train rides, cycling, fishing, orienteering, geocaching, Dartmoor letterboxing, horse riding, bird watching and shopping. Go sailing, surfing, sea fishing, windsurfing, rock climbing, take scenic drives, play a round of golf in gorgeous surroundings, go antique hunting or explore old churches.
Wander along the winding streets of Plymouth’s Barbican with its gin distillery or discover the excellent shopping in the Barnstable’s Green Lanes. Sample tasty Devon food and drink such as spring lamb, freshly smoked trout, apple cider, thick clotted cream on warm scones or rich ice cream straight from the dairy. Enjoy simple pub food or an epicurean feast in a Michelin star restaurant. You can even learn how to cook the Devon way on a weekend at Ashburton Cookery School!
Whether you want a cultural weekend of theatre, a historic tour of old abbeys and museums, family theme parks and attractions or a solitary escape exploring Dartmoor on foot, Devon is the answer – the cream of England’s hospitality and tourism.