Rocks and wild ponies in Devon's
Dartmoor, south west England.
Devon is one
of the UK's largest counties and lies on England's south-west peninsula, bordering Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset with two stunning and distinct coastlines hosting great beaches - spectacularly sandy and rocky, though washed by cold waters.
Surfing is particularly brisk on the (north) Atlantic
coast while the south coast is more protected and specialises in cute little coves.
Devon embraces some pleasant urban areas such as Exeter, Torquay (aka The English Riviera but a little tired and down-at-heel these days), Plymouth (the port from which USA's 'founding fathers' departed), and
lots of quaint little villages.
But for many English people
the Devon interior means moors, Exmoor,
Bodmin and especially Dartmoor - bleak open spaces with mists,
rocks, wild ponies and the howling ground of the Sherlock Holmes mystery 'The Hound
of the Baskervilles' - superb for hiking and biking.
Another view of Haytor and Dartmoor.
Fingle Bridge, just outside west Dartmoor. Unfortunately there's no guarantee that rain won't be part of a tourist's experience as the West Country is famously warm but wet.
Exeter's 14th century Gothic cathedral, Devon
Exeter is an historically interesting city and the capital of Devon, with grand medieval buildings such as the cathedral, houses in Cathedral Close, St Nicholas Priory, Quay House and The Guildhall as well as various
medieval churches, half-timbered Tudor houses and well-kept
Victorian and Georgian buildings.
The city also contains the oldest public space in England, Northernhay
But Exeter has more to offer than just ancient sights - university students bring a buzz to the city encouraging a wide range of lively, historic pubs in the compact city centre and around the quay, in addition to a variety of energetic festivals throughout the year.
A fine statue of a seagull outside Exeter cathedral, Devon
Exeter is about 200 miles from
London - a 3 or 4 hour drive, or 2.5 hours on the fastest scheduled
The city has a history stretching back to Roman times, was the
start of the Fosse Way Roman road; parts of a fortified Roman
wall can still be seen.
Unfortunately the city's narrow streets - Parliament Street
is reputed to be the narrowest street in the world - cause considerable
traffic congestion, so car travel here is not a pleasant option.
London the fastest car or coach route to Exeter would be the M4 motorway to Bristol followed by the
M5, though a winding trip through Dorset would be far more interesting
and scenic. However, in the summertime herds of lumbering caravans
migrate en masse to the West Country along 'A' roads so speed
freaks may prefer the motorways. Or let the train take the strain.
Devon's south west coast path between Bantham and Thurlestone. Also see Devon beaches.
Plymouth Hoe, Devon.
Plymouth is Devon's largest city and a famous old port that played a key part in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 thanks to ex-slaver Francis Drake and the bad weather, waved goodbye to the Mayflower's 'Pilgrim' passengers on their way to America in 1620, shipped out both Captain Cook and Charles Darwin and was bombed flat by the Luftwaffe in the 1940's.
Some of the old city survived but much of the rebuild was lacking in both style and sensitivity so Plymouth is hardly packed with attractions and traffic can be terrible.
However, the Hoe is calm, pretty and encompasses varied memorials and an outdoor pool (Tinside Lido), naval-gazing is popular with the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Citadel at the fore and Crownhill Fort at the rear, while a handful of stately homes offer sumptious treats such as Saltram, Mount Edgcumbe, Elizabethan House and the Merchant's House Museum.
Salcombe, Devon, the rural part.
you're visiting from overseas, and only staying a short time,
Devon is off the beaten track,
at least three hours drive from London, often more in high season
as roads are narrow.
As it is a rural area, public transport is very thin on the
Don't expect any big-city thrills or theme parks. Devon is undeveloped
- the main cities such as Exeter and Plymouth do offer entertainment
venues, such as theatres, clubs and bars as well as cultural
attractions, but not on the scale of major cities.
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