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Devon: the Sunniest Place This Side of Heaven!
The Clapper Bridge at Postbridge, Dates From the 13th Century
Devon is England's Third Largest County and the Only One With Two Coastlines
In any souvenir shop in Devon, the visitor will find a postcard which states: 'Welcome to dear old Devon - the sunniest place this side of Heaven.' So it will come as little surprise that the County of Devon, in England's West Country, was voted England’s best county in a recent survey by Country Life Magazine.
Devon is the third largest county in England and the only one with two separate coasts. North Devon has a shorter, rockier coast on The Atlantic Ocean and The Bristol Channel and boasts Exmoor National Park for a backdrop. In the south, Devon's longer coastline borders the English Channel. Here can be found another National Park at Dartmoor. The southern shores of the county enjoy a more temperate climate due to the warm waters of The Gulf-Stream although both coasts offer an abundance of walks, cycling and beach-based activities.
A Typical Dartmoor Pony
Delightful Devon Days
Devon beaches are tidy, accessible and offer safe bathing. There are a good choice of beaches so if it's rock pools or golden sands that you're looking for, you'll find one to suit. The red sand beaches of Dawlish and Goodrington in the south and the pebbled coves of Combe Martin and Ilfracombe in the north will guarantee there is no lack of somewhere to spend a sunny summer's day.
There's every possible activity for the discerning tourist and it's perhaps the wide variety of leisure pursuits available that make Devon the ideal holiday destination.
There are different holidays to cater for all tastes and pockets and not all of them are seasonal. There is pony trekking and hiking on Dartmoor for the adventurous but for a more leisurely break, you'll easily discover a broad selection of relaxing pastimes to enjoy in the popular resorts in the south. There is something for everybody, old and young alike. Over the winter months, a short break in a West Country cottage will always hold its appeal. A friendly fire in the hearth and an idyllic view of a babbling brook running past your window will never fail to please
Devon draws tourists from far and wide but it's always been popular with tourists from the rest of England who descend on the county during the summer months to enjoy the temperate climate required for a traditional beach holiday.
Rail and road links to the county are exceptional. There is the London to Penzance main line, the M5 motorway and also an international airport close to the county town of Exeter. Devon can also be reached from mainland Europe by sea. From Spain, the Santander car ferry takes twenty-four hours to reach Plymouth and from France, the journey from Roscoff takes five hours.
Where Drake Played Bowls on Plymouth Hoe!
In Praise of Our American Cousins!
Visitors from America are eager to visit Plymouth on Devon's southern coast since it is here where the Pilgrim Fathers departed on the voyage to colonise New England in 1620. Some Americans come in search of their roots, especially those who live on America's Eastern seaboard. The area known as the Barbican is the place to visit to discover the Mayflower Steps which were erected in commemoration of this event; it is even possible to stand at the exact spot where the Pilgrim Fathers began their arduous voyage.
Why not travel across county from one coast to the other? Starting at Plymouth, the wise visitor can travel north towards Tavistock, enjoying the pleasant moorland scenery in the county’s interior. There is magnificent scenery at Burrator Reservoir and isolated primitive places known as Tors. Here you can find interesting rock formations forged by the winds when the landscape was created.
After a few hours’ drive and many leisurely stops at points of interest and picture postcard villages en route, Devon’s northern coast will reveal itself. Find a moorland retreat on Exmoor, far from the bustling resorts and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea with lashings of thick, clotted cream. In every countryside and seaside tea room, you'll be able to enjoy the delights of home-made scones lavishly covered with butter and cream and smothered in locally produced jam.
Torbay is the largest resort on the South Devon coast; it includes the three resorts of Paignton, Brixham and Torquay. It is easily reached by visitors arriving from London on the mainline London to Penzance line. Why not take a boat trip from one side of Torbay to the other to take in the views of a typical English seaside town?
No visitor to the county of Devon will be disappointed; picturesque scenery will abound and you'll find more than ample opportunity to take a wide variety of photographs.
The River Tamar Divides Devon From Cornwall
Dartmoor - the Heart of Devon
For those who appreciate natural unspoiled landscape and wish to catch a glimpse of moorland wildlife, a trip to Devon's interior is a must. Here you can see the Dartmoor and Exmoor ponies in their natural habitat and also other wild animals such as otters, hares, stoats and deer without having to digress too far from the main road.
2011 marked the 60th anniversary of Dartmoor achieving national park status. As one of the largest national parks in the UK, it offers a vast selection of activities to all kinds of holiday makers and serves as a haven for wildlife to proliferate.
Appreciating the wide open spaces of Dartmoor and participating in the relaxed way of life enjoyed by the locals is a refreshing change to taking a holiday in many of the overdeveloped tourist areas that can be found elsewhere in the West Country. There are no sprawling theme parks here or vastly over-commercialised ventures and many of the attractions are centred on the way life has flourished in these remote parts for centuries, clearly demonstrating how humans can live side by side with nature in harmony.
The ancient moorland hewn from granite bedrock is one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe so the visitor with an avid interest in antiquity won't be disappointed. There are an abundance of stone crosses and monoliths that are as weird and wonderful as the curious natural rock formations known as ‘tors.’
Plymouth's Famous Barbican
Excellent Road and Rail Links to the Cities
Dartmoor is located in England’s south west in the county of Devon and visitors to the region will find Dartmoor easily accessible via the two main cities of Plymouth and Exeter. Having Dartmoor on their doorstep and the sea close by is a privilege the people of Plymouth often take for granted.
Any visitor to Dartmoor will likely discover the cities of Exeter and Plymouth at the same time and with Devon boasting two desirable coastlines, there is much that appeals. Time spent in the wilds of Dartmoor is a pleasant respite from the hustle and bustle of city life and the narrow, high hedged roads which lead to the coasts.
For a day out with a difference why not visit Buckfast Abbey at Buckfastleigh? Here beside the banks of the river Dart in a near idyllic setting, you can gain a keen insight into the day to day life of a devout religious order. The Benedictine monks that run the abbey are expert beekeepers and produce their own mead from honey. There's a gift shop where fudge, wine and other Devon specialities are sold.
Driving north from Plymouth by road it is possible to discover the highlights of Dartmoor and head for the opposite coast in the space of a day. Why not stop en route at a coaching inn for an overnight stay and continue back the following morning? There will be plenty to discover whether you are a nature lover or just want to appreciate the passing scenery.
Anyone with a liking for waterfalls, streams and lakes will love Burrator reservoir, Lydford Gorge and the cascading waters that can be seen at beauty spots such as Watersmeet. Don’t forget your camera as the opportunity to take photos of the friendly Dartmoor ponies will never be far away.
Serious walkers will find that there is no end of guided walks that they can take and caravan and camping enthusiasts will find the ideal spot for them to set up camp in one of the many parks available. Cyclists too describe the area as ideal.
There are two steam railways that provide another mode of transport to view the breathtaking scenery. In the north, there is the Dartmoor railway and in the south, a trip to the butterfly farm and an otter sanctuary can be incorporated with a trip on the South Devon Railway.
The infamous Dartmoor Prison is also a tourist attraction as there is an adjoining museum that will enthral the visitor with its detailed exhibits of crime and punishment throughout the ages. The grey, granite walls are a stark contrast to the colourful town of Princeton where you can find many a quaint ‘olde worlde’ pub to enjoy a hearty lunch and a pint of Devon cider.
No one will be disappointed with Dartmoor and the chance to discover a part of England that has been unspoiled and preserved for future generations to appreciate.
The Church of St Michael on Brentor
England's West Country
© 2016 Stella Kaye