Devon is one of England’s largest counties, its north coast bordering the Bristol Channel and the south coast on the English Channel. On the south west peninsula. Devon has always been considered part of mainstream UK. It is necessary to cross Devon to reach the more isolated Cornwall.
Both Devon’s coasts have cliffs with bays and sandy shorelines, with seaside resorts, fishing harbours and small ports. Inland there are two National Parks – Exmoor in the north and Dartmoor in the south. East Devon to the east of Exeter has fertile soil extending to the Jurassic coast.
Devon’s mild climate, seascapes and moorland attract visitors all-year-round, offsetting the decline in fishing and farming incomes. The county town of Exeter has an ancient cathedral and many historic sights.
The major resorts of Torquay and Paignton form the busy English Riviera which extends across Torbay to the atmospheric fishing port of Brixham. Further round the coast is the ancient and historic port of Dartmouth, home to Sir Walter Raleigh and the training base for Royal Navy officers at the Britannia Royal Naval College. The River Dart extends upriver past Agatha Christie’s house at Greenway to reach the inland port of Totnes. It is possible to take a river trip from Dartmouth to Totnes, then bus to Paignton and return by heritage steam train to Kingswear, the station a ferry trip across the river back to Dartmouth.
Inland from Totnes are the hills and tors of Dartmoor, with Dartmoor Prison at Princetown a forbidding sight. Near Dartmouth is the excellent privately owned Blackpool Sands beach and further west on the coast is Salcombe, with the stunning East Portlemouth beach opposite. Further west is Plymouth and its famous Hoe. Close to the Hoe is the popular National Marine Aquarium, the largest of its kind in the UK with a large selection of ocean species.
The more rugged coastline of North Devon offers surfing at Croyde, with family beaches at Woolacombe and Westward Ho! The towns of Bideford and Barnstaple are historic towns on the rivers Torridge and Taw which flow into the Bristol Channel. Ilfracombe is the leading resort in North Devon.
Along the coast is the small fishing village of Clovelly, at the bottom of a cleft in the hillside. It can only be visited on foot down a steep cobbled way, and has been preserved through the whole village being in the same private ownership.
Both North and South Devon have much to offer the visitor. North Devon is less busy than the very popular resorts of South Devon, particularly at the height of summer.
Check out tours to Devon in our selection of touring holidays in the UK
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