Discover misty moors wandered by wild ponies, be charmed by pretty harbour towns and explore a vast expanse of rugged coastline that’s perfect for watersports.
This 368 square mile National Park is famous for its rugged beauty and was the inspiration for Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. With 368 square miles to explore, it’s easy to walk for miles without seeing another soul. Cycle the Drake’s Trail and you’re likely to encounter herds of pure-breed Dartmoor ponies. Particular sites of interest include the vast granite mass of Haytor and the fascinating Dartmoor Prison Museum.
For a coastal break with plenty character, opt for Plymouth, a city drenched in maritime history. Sir Francis Drake’s insisted on finishing a game of bowls before defeating the Spanish Armada at the Plymouth Bowling Club, the Mayflower set sail for the New World in 1620 from the Barbican, and the oldest working gin distillery in the world continues to produce Plymouth Gin to this very day. Plymouth also has a great arts scene with theatre live music and art galleries to enjoy, as well as magnificent views from Plymouth Hoe and the Ocean Studios artists and a wealth of restaurants found at the historic Royal William Yard.
The Heart of Devon
Exeter also has its fair share of history, with parts of the city centre dating back to Roman times. Get a feel for the city by walking along the City Wall over 70% of the Roman structure still remains. Stroll through cobbled side streets where high street names comfortably coexist with independent shops and boutiques. Exeter is close to the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and beautiful surrounding countryside too, so it’s a good place to base a family holiday.
The English Riviera
Steeped in maritime history, Torquay plays host to a number of sporting events and festivals throughout the year, including the Riviera’s own regatta. It also has its own UNESCO-endorsed Geopark, where you can explore a unique ecosystem and try everything from coasteering and kayaking to cycling and dolphin spotting. Paignton is also a popular holiday resort with its historic pier and thriving Zoo, whilst Brixham’s charming harbour bustles with a thriving fishing community and is also the proud home of an historic replica of Sir Frances Drake’s Golden Hind.
Gentle green hills tumble towards a golden coastline, in area that’s packed with outdoor activities including watersports and walking trails, as well plenty of waterside bars and restaurants serving exquisite seafood plucked straight from the sea. Don’t miss Burgh Island, home to a dazzling art deco hotel and the sophisticated seaside resort of Salcombe with its sparkling blue waters and golden sands. The drama and wildness of Dartmoor isn’t far away, making it a region of contrasts. Its unique character encourages artists of all kinds to make South Devon their home, and you’ll find plenty of art galleries, music festivals and alternative lifestyles in this part of Devon.
North Devon and Exmoor
North Devon is home to some of the county’s best surfing beaches, as well as quintessentially English towns and villages such as Barnstaple, Bideford and Clovelly. The dramatic beauty of Exmoor is the perfect place for hiking or mountain biking. North Devon’s coastline has also given birth to the adventurous pastime of coasteering, a way to get up close and personal with both the rugged landscapes and the local wildlife, whilst experiencing the drama and thrill of the open sea.