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The C&TH Guide to Devon

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From sandy beaches and beautiful wildlife to delicious oysters and medieval passages

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Wondering what to do, where to eat and the best things to see in Devon? Look no further! You’ll find salt-swept surfers hang out at Croyde and Woolacombe while the low-key simply pull on their hiking boots and head for moody Dartmoor, fuelling up on fish and chips down in Brixham. Throw into the mix wild moorlands, dramatic headlands and some of the UKs best beaches, and you’ve got a winning recipe for staycation success.

Find the best hotels in Devon in this year’s Great British & Irish Hotel Guide

What To See In Devon

Dartington Hall

Dartington Hall

Over the border in Devon, Dartington Hall has a rich history that dates back over 1,000 years. It was the site of the pioneering, controversial 20th-century ‘Dartington experiment’, taking in everything from education and farming to the arts. You can explore its 1,200 acre estate, including its Arts & Crafts gardens with sculptures by Henry Moore, Willi Soukop and Peter Randall-Page.

Greenway

Sleuth around Agatha Christie’s holiday home, Greenway, on the River Dart. Creep around the walled garden, peach house and vinery and peruse the family’s eclectic collection of archaeology, silverware and, of course, lots of books.

Medieval Passages

Medieval Passages

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Underneath the hustle and bustle of Exeter lies what remains of a network of medieval vaulted tunnels, built to supply the city with fresh water. Opt for a guided tour (it’s rumoured that a ghost cycles the passages by night so you’ll want company)…

Wildlife at Berry Head

One for wildlife-watchers, Berry Head’s thin limestone soils and mild climate has made it a haven for some of the UK’s rarest species and is home to colonies of Guillemots, Razorbills and Black-legged Kittiwakes. There is an abundance of picturesque spots to lay out a spread across this 400 million-year stretch of coastline.

Lundy Island

Lundy Island

You don’t need to travel to Ecuador to see incredible wildlife. Dubbed England’s answer to the Galapagos, you can spot puffins, seals and even basking sharks off Lundy Island on Devon’s north coast. Take a day trip, or stay in one of the Landmark Trust’s 23 unique properties.

What To Eat

The Fish Deli

The Fish Deli

Take a trip to The Fish Deli in the ancient town of Ashburton, Devon. Stocking fresh, pole-and-line caught fish from small day boats, sustainability and seasonality is at the heart of this family-run operation.

River Cottage

Floppy haired and enthusiastic Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall put Devon’s River Cottage (with his famous food philosophy) on the map, raising awareness of welfare and sustainability of animals and fish. Share his passion (and local produce) with regular Friday or Saturday night feasts in the rustic barn.

The Oyster Shack

Oysters

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Oyster lovers used to pitch up at Devon’s River Avon with a bottle of wine and a crusty loaf to enjoy with locally caught shellfish. The Oyster Shack in Bigbury continues that tradition on its bright and sunny terrace. Great fun and great value.

Salcombe Dairy

There’s no end of flavours of the ice creams, sorbet and crushes found at The Salcombe Dairy Cabin by Kingsbridge’s pretty quay – honeycomb with local honey is favourite.

Ode To Devon

Ode On The Road

Tim & Clare Bouquet’s admirable mission is to offer ‘planet friendly food accessible for all budgets’. First off was Ode Dining in Sheldon, next Ode Ness Cove, a beachside café with its micro brewery and recently came Ode Gara Rock with superb views over South Hams as well as Ode on the Road, a pizza van travelling around South Devon.

Beachhouse, South Milton Sands

The laidback Beachhouse is on a stunning stretch of the Devon coast. Enjoy gazing out to sea or meeting friends while tucking into a fish finger sandwich or mussels and chips.

The Waterside Bistro, Totnes

The French-style fish soup at The Waterside Bistro by the river in Totnes is fantastic – rich, deeply flavoured and served with rouille, croutons and gruyere – comme il faut.

The Elephant, Torquay

The Elephant Restaurant

Simon Hulstone is one of our most exciting chefs at The Elephant Restaurant. A three course set lunch in the Brasserie downstairs is both a taste sensation and excellent value.

Where To Visit

Sharpham Wine & Cheese

Wine & Cheese - Unsplash

Sharpham Wine & Cheese is a thousand-year-old farm with 500 acres and big ambitions to produce world class wine and cheese. They use milk from their own Jersey cows for the cheese and meticulously select cool climate grape varieties for the vineyard. This place gives a whole new meaning to farm-to-fork.

Sit Smug On a Secret Beach

Gara Rock Beach is an unspoiled cove between Prawle Point and the mouth of the Salcombe-Kingsbridge Estuary. Stay at the Gara Rock Hotel with a clifftop pool, spa and easy access to the beach.

The Cridford Inn

Cridford Pub

Grab a pint at The Cridford Inn. The longhouse dates back to 825AD, making it one of the UK’s oldest pubs.

Wander Around Waterfalls

Walk off a Sunday roast around Dartmoor’s Lydford Gorge surrounded by ancient woodland. See the dramatic 30-metre White Lady Waterfall and Devil’s Cauldren bubbling whirlpool and keep your eyes peeled for Kingfishers.

Walk Somewhere Wonderful

Don’t forget to pack your walking boots for a steep ascent to the rugged heights of Ilfracombe Torrs in Devon.

Wild Swimming at Devon

Wild Swimming

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Boost your dopamine levels with a quick dip in Devon. Wild water swimming hotspots include the still pool on the Staverton circular walk (complete with rope swing), or the Hindu Caves – a popular spot in Victorian times, they inspired Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies. devonandcornwallwildswimming.co.uk

Saunton Sands Beach

Fringed by the impressive Braunton Barrows dunes, there is room for everyone on this three and a half mile sandy plain. Great for swimming, surfing and… music videos. Robbie Williams used Saunton Sands beach to film his Angels video – it’s got to be good.

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DISCOVER MORE:

The C&TH Guide To The Cotswolds / Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones’ Guide to Devon & Cornwall