A surfer’s paradise and a rambler’s dream – Devon’s pretty villages and rugged coastline are perfect for all holidaymakers
Offering miles of sandy beaches and enough rolling pastures to fill a thousand postcards, Devon has long been the destination of choice for anyone who wants a weekend in the West Country. Also home to the vibrant cities of Plymouth and Exeter, a trip to Devon really does have something for everyone.
Wander Doone country
Lorna Doone is to Devon what Poldark is to Cornwall, and fans will find some landscapes largely unchanged from the 1869 novel by Richard Doddridge Blackmore. Blackmore spent much of his childhood visiting family in Exmoor, and attended a nearby school at Tiverton. He took inspiration not only from the landscape of the area, but also from its characters, basing the lawless Doone family on the real Scottish gang who were said to have terrorised Exmoor in the 17th century. The book has spawned a thriving micro-tourism industry, and you can easily pick up a map to the locations in the book. And don’t forget to pay your respects to the woman herself – now immortalised in statue form in Dulverton.
Visit the pocket-sized port of Clovelly
It would be hard to find a prettier Devon village than Clovelly. This tiny fishing cove has less than 500 residents, and nearly all of the little painted cottages that line its cobbled streets are listed. The village is unusual in that it is privately owned, and extremely well kept. Westward Ho! author Charles Kingsley lived here and did a lot to popularise this stretch of coast through his books, while JMW Turner painted various views of the village in 1822. You can visit the little harbour, admire the landscape and even walk the Pack Horse Trail, a three-mile ramble that takes you to the door of the pretty Clovelly Inn for traditional food and ale. Book ahead for supper, as there aren’t many pubs in the village, and this one is always popular.
Hit the surf at Croyde Bay or Saunton Sands
Surf South West is an award-winning school that has stations on both Croyde Bay and Saunton Sands, two neighbouring beaches on Devon’s stunning north coast. Beginners can pitch up here and learn to hit the waves in waist-height water, a reassuring way to learn the basics. More seasoned surfers have miles of sandy coastline to choose from – with professionals flocking to beaches like Bantham and Woolacombe every year to ride the reliable waves of the Bristol Channel.
Catch a play at the South West’s most renowned theatre
The Exeter Northcott Theatre was set up in 1967 on the grounds of Exeter University. Staging its own repertory productions alongside national tours, the theatre is renowned for the originality and creativity of its seasonal program – as well as its striking modern architecture. Get something to eat at the in-house restaurant, with a speedy pre-theatre menu to set you up for the evening’s entertainment, but don’t forget to book ahead on busy nights.
Look for the Spanish Armada
Plymouth Hoe is one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the UK, and it’s also home to the site where Sir Francis Drake first sighted the Spanish Armada (before supposedly finishing his game of boules). Offering a stunning panoramic of Plymouth Sound, the Hoe is an interesting place to visit for history buffs – housing the Royal Citadel, the 16th century fortress that was designed by Drake himself.
If beaches, picturesque countryside and culture is for you, then why not take a look at our hotels in Devon and see what we have to offer.