With rolling green countryside, sweet little fishing villages, two incredible coastlines and some of finest food in England to boot, Devon is an absolute must for anyone visiting England. There’s something here for every member of the family, and whether you’re an adventure seeker or a cake eater, here are 20 things not to be missed when visiting Devon.
Dubbed as the English answer to the Galapagos, Lundy Island is a three-mile stretch of rock off the coast of North Devon. Here, you can get up close and personal with puffins, seals and basking sharks, as well as a huge variety of seabirds. Arrive by boat from Ilfracombe or Bideford several times a week.
Lydford is the deepest gorge in the south west of England, is surrounded by thick, lush woodland and is filled with waterfalls and tales of faeries. Stand under the White Lady Falls and get close to the churning Devil’s Cauldron. Parts of the walk around here can be treacherous, so tread carefully!
It really isn’t a trip to Devon without a windy stomp to a tor on Dartmoor. Great for blowing away the cobwebs, this 365 square miles wilderness throws up ancient woodland, open moorland, quaint villages and stone age ruins.
Even if you’re not an Agatha Christie fan, a visit to Greenway and her River Dart holiday home is definitely worth the time. Here, Agatha stayed to seek inspiration for her novels and to enjoy some down time in this absolutely stunning part of Devon. First edition novels line the shelves, as well as family photos. Be sure not to miss the gardens, particularly the peach house, fernery and winery.
Whether you want to walk it, canoe it, sail it, kayak it, swim it, camp next to it, or take the train over it, the River Dart is a beautiful adventure playground for kids of all sizes and ages. There are, of course, pubs all along the water as well as a vineyard and lots of lovely little towns and villages to amble through.
Salcombe is filled with pretty pastel coloured houses, sandy coves and yachtie types from “up-country.” It’s an upmarket town, but worth a visit even if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to Salcombe prices, as the atmosphere is always good and it feels as though the sun eternally shines.
With a quiet boaty culture, narrow lanes which climb up steep hills and wonderful waterside views, Noss Mayo is Salcombe’s quieter little sister. Have a drink at The Ship Inn, or walk the coast path around the headland for horizon views and trails through thick woodland.
Just on the outskirts of Plymouth, a stroll around the gardens of Saltram are a welcome break from the busy city. Here, it’s hard to believe that there’s a whole world beyond the trees and it’s an oasis of green space by the river. The house itself was used in the film Sense and Sensibility and is filled with gorgeous antiques.
Built at the top of a hill, this motte and bailey castle is filled with ghostly goings on and is said to be home to some pretty gory crimes. The story goes that the Lady Howard who once lived here killed all four of her husbands and then made a carriage from their bones.
As you can expect from a prison high in the foggy hills of Dartmoor, there’s a pretty morbid past at this Devonshire prison. Built to cope with the amount of prisoners of war in the early 1800s, the place was ridden with disease due to overcrowding. Here there have been mutinies, capital punishment and torture, with the prison still being used today for minor criminals.
For hidden beaches down zigzagging pathways, views which go on for days and walks along a beautiful and leafy coast path, look no further than East Prawle. There’s also a pretty amazing pub here called The Pig’s Nose and a campsite where you can wake up with a view of the ocean.
Giant cliffs which plunge from sky to sea, giant waterfalls which crash through rocks and a lovely hotel at the end of the world where you can drink a nice cuppa with views down along the coast into Cornwall to the south and up to Woolacombe in the north.
This moorland which comes to a dramatic end at the coast. It’s like Dartmoor but quieter and with a sea breeze. This former hunting land is now covered in purple heathered moorland, gnarly woodlands and craggy shores.
Discover the red deer who roam the grounds, or learn about a colony of lesser horseshoe bats who live at the Court. Join the gardener for a day to learn about growing your own food, or simply wander the grounds and take a step back in time.
Pretty Dartmouth is situated on the mouth of the River Dart and is one of South Devon’s most charming towns. With historic streets, a scenic river location and beautiful countryside surrounding the town, you’d find it difficult to find anywhere as lovely as this.
From stunning gardens to woodland walks, an afternoon at RHS Rosemoor is not only for the gardening enthusiasts in the family. It is, of course, beautiful and full of inspiration for your garden at home, but there are also tons of activities for the kids and grown ups, from story time to lessons in roses.
If you’re into cycling, you’ll be into the Tarka Trail. This is England’s longest traffic-free cycle route and it follows a disused railway line from Braunton all the way to Meeth. You can do as much or as little in a day as your legs can handle and there is always a bus to take you back to where you started.
Two Moors Way
This long-distance hiking trail, which links both Dartmoor and Exmoor together, isn’t for the faint of heart or the unfit. The pathway takes in Devon’s most dramatic inland scenery and like the Tarka Trail, follows an old and disused railway line.
The Jurassic Coast isn’t something which is usually associated with Devon, it’s more Dorset. Nonetheless, Devon is the beginning of this impressive coastline, with fossils being found daily, gorgeous beaches and hills which roll effortlessly from their summit to the sea.
Lovely Clovelly, which tumbles chaotically down steep cobbled streets from the top of the cliffs to the harbour, is an absolute must see when visiting North Devon. See how residents use sledges to drag their shopping up and down the town and have a pint right at the bottom of the village looking into the harbour and up the cliff.