In any tourist shop in Devon you will no doubt find a picture postcard which says: ‘Welcome to dear old Devon – the sunniest place this side of Heaven.’ So it will come as no surprise to the visitor that the County of Devon in the South West of England has recently been 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 coastlines. To the north there is the shorter, rockier coast facing the Atlantic Ocean and the Bristol Channel, with Exmoor National park for a backdrop and to the south, Devon’s longer coastline borders the English Channel. The latter enjoys a more temperate climate due to the warm waters of The Gulf-Stream although both coastlines offer an abundance of walks, cycling and beach-based activities.
The beaches are clean, accessible and offer some of the safest bathing in the country. From the red sandy beaches of Dawlish and Goodrington sands in the south to the pebbly coves around Combe Martin and Ifracombe in the north there is no lack of choice.
There is everything here for the discerning visitor and it is perhaps the wide variety of activities on offer and the year-round availability of many different holidays to suit all tastes and pockets that has earned Devon its title. From Pony trekking and hiking in the wilds of Dartmoor to the more relaxing beach based holidays in places like the more accessible resorts in the South there is something for everybody.
Devon has always been popular with tourists from the rest of England who come in their droves during the summer months to enjoy the milder climate for a traditional beach holiday. And in winter what could be more appealing than a Devon cottage break with the warmth of a welcoming log fire and a stream running past your window outside?
Rail links and road links to the county are exceptional and there are airports at Plymouth and the county town of Exeter. Devon can also be reached from mainland Europe by sea. Approaching from Spain, the Santander car ferry takes twenty four hours to reach Plymouth but from France the journey from Roscoff takes only 5 hours.
Visitors from the USA are unlikely to miss a visit to Plymouth on Devon’s southern coast purely because this is where the Pilgrim Fathers embarked for The New world in 1620. Many Americans come here in search of their roots, especially those who live in the New England States. The area known as the Barbican is steeped in maritime history and it is possible to stand at the exact spot where the Pilgrim Fathers began their voyage.
For those who appreciate natural unspoiled landscape and 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 spot badgers and foxes without having to stray too far from the beaten track.
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 quaint thatched villages en route, Devon’s northern coast will reveal itself. Find a moorland retreat on Exmoor, far from the madding crowd, and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea with lashings of thick clotted cream. In every countryside and seaside tea room you will 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 typically English seaside town?
No visitor to the county of Devon will be disappointed; marvellous picture postcard scenery will abound and you will find more than ample opportunity to take a wide variety of photographs.