Ten Irrefutable Reasons to Visit Devon
Published: Saturday 12th Apr 2014
Written by: Alice de Courcy-Wheeler
Devon is a wonderful county to live in, and a fantastic place to take a holiday. It benefits from a temperate climate, excellent countryside, and two stretches of coastline that can’t fail to leave you smiling. And if we haven’t convinced you already, here are ten irrefutable reasons to visit.
Devon is blessed with two National Parks, Dartmoor in the south and Exmoor in the north. Covering nearly 650 square miles between them, these two evocative expanses of wild moors and woodland are an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Walking, cycling, running, riding, and climbing are all popular activities on the parks, and there is a wide range of flora and fauna for nature lovers to enjoy, including the famous Dartmoor and Exmoor ponies.
Exmoor abuts the north Devon coast, the majority of which is a surfer’s dream. Croyde Bay is one of the major hotspots – the hollow low-tide Atlantic waves draw enthusiasts from all over the world, and a bit further along the coast is Newquay, the home of the British Surfing Association.
With all this activity you’re bound to work up an appetite, so it’s a good thing that Devon has a plethora of award winning restaurants. Try the Spanish experience at The Oak Room in Lynton or the Michelin starred pub food at the Mason’s Arms in Knowstone. And of course it wouldn’t be a proper trip to Devon without sampling a cream tea – why not find out why The Cream Tea Café in Barnstaple is highly recommended by locals and tourists alike?
Devon has more museums for you to enjoy then any other county in the South-West. Try the Burton Art Gallery and Museum, the National Trust Carriage Museum in Arlington, or the North Devon Maritime Museum in Appledore for a fascinating time.
There is a host of things to do for children when you visit Devon. Alongside the natural playgrounds of the beaches and National Parks, there are many other places to thrill little ones. If they’re animal lovers then The Big Sheep attraction near Bideford is for them, or how about Exmoor Zoo in Barnstaple? And they can see a fascinating collection of aquatic life at Ilfracombe Aquarium all year round.
While it’s usually surfers falling in love with the waves in Croyde, take a walk high up on the clifftop with the surf crashing onto the shore for a completely different experience. And don’t forget that the area was the setting for Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor, almost certainly because of its beautiful heathland, ancient woodland and tinkling streams.
Whatever time of year it is you can be assured that there will be a festival going on. These range from large events such as the Somersault Festival and the Gold Coast Oceanfest in Croyde, to smaller events like the North Devon Street Food Awards and the Lundy Yacht Race.
And Lundy Island isn’t just about boats. This Landmark Trust site in the Bristol Channel has a small village with an inn, a Victorian church, a disused lighthouse and the thirteenth century Marisco Castle. It was the first Maritime Nature Reserve due to its variety of habitat and wildlife, and the lack of roads, cars and pollution make this a relaxing place to explore. It’s easily reached from Bideford and Ilfracombe by boat in the summer months, and by helicopter from November to March. Because there are no street lights and very little other light pollution it’s an amazing place to go star gazing.
If you don’t fancy crossing the water to do your astronomy, then Ruby Country is the destination for you. A rural area to the west of the county encompassing Bradworthy, Langtree and Holsworthy, it’s a place to explore away from the car; on foot, bicycle, or horseback. Take a rod and go fishing, or try your hand at carriage driving. And like Lundy there are very few street lights to obscure your view of the night sky.
Devon has more than its fair share of heritage, and one of the best places to visit is Hartland Abbey and Gardens. A 12th century monastery, it was the last one to fall in the Reformation. Henry VIII then gifted the Abbey to the Keeper of his Wine Cellar, whose descendants still live there today.