Devon A County of Contrasts

Devon is a large county in the far south west of England. The only thing that stands between Devon and North America is Cornwall and the Scilly islands. It is a county of contrasts in that it boasts the large cities of Plymouth, Exeter and even Torquay and Torbay, all in the south of the county, to Dartmoor, the large hilly wilderness that sits in the centre of the county like a dartboard.It boasts a southern and northern coastline and again there is a major contrast between the two. The south is milder and sheltered and boasts hundreds of rivers and tree-lined creeks ranging from tiny streams up to the mighty river Tamar crossed by Brunel’s famous bridge, and the Exe that runs up to Exeter. The north coast is altogether different being exposed to the Atlantic Ocean where fierce gales can spring from all the year round. Towering cliffs defend the almost treeless landscape on the north side. Visit Lynton and Lynmouth, two small towns separated by a towering cliff.The interior is green and hilly, drivers are almost always either climbing or descending and the county is full of interesting smaller towns and hamlets. Check out Totnes, beautiful Dartmouth, Salcombe, Brixham for the fishing boats, Paignton for the Zoo, and Kingsbridge in the south, or the more dramatic Ilfracombe, Barnstaple, Bideford and Westward Ho! in the north.For swimmers and surfers there are fine beaches on both coasts, try Bigbury Bay all the way along to Exmouth in the south, and Woolacombe in the north where you can always find a quiet spot if you seek it out. The north is definitely the better for surfers as the Atlantic Ocean sends in its mighty waves every few seconds.Take the train to Cornwall and experience the fine views as you run along the coast down the Exe estuary, past Dawlish and Teignmouth and over the Tamar and on into Cornwall. Don’t forget to take a loaded camera too for you will surely see many a sight to picture.Dartmoor offers everything for walkers, though it can be a surprisingly dangerous place with unexpected bogs and exposed landscape, certainly not a place for inexperienced or unaccompanied walkers to venture alone, no surprise then that the Commandos and the secretive SAS still exercise here. Or if you lack the energy, take a coach trip up and over the moor and gaze down upon the still used and atmospheric Dickensian Dartmoor prison.Plymouth is a large city, famous for the departure point for the Quakers to New England across the sea, but it is also a city that took a fearful pounding during World War II, due to the naval port connection, and little older architecture remains here. The city was hastily rebuilt in the fifties and it shows. Though Exeter too took a beating during the war, more ancient buildings remain here, some going back to Sir Francis Drake’s time and beyond, and especially the ancient and impressive Cathedral that is well worth a visit.Devon is a fine county to visit and one that will provide you with plenty to do regardless of whether you prefer sailing, swimming, golf or walking, or just pootling around quaint shops and Sunday antique markets that are everywhere, Check out the local newspapers for the times and locations.Travel there by train from London to Exeter Saint David’s, or all the way down to Plymouth, or you can arrive by air into the rapidly expanding Exeter airport. The roads have been significantly improved in recent years, the M5 or the A303 being the express routes, but avoid them in late July or August if you can as half the nation seems to be on the roads heading for Devon and Cornwall in those times. There is so much to do and see in Devon, you won’t be disappointed, and you will certainly need more than a single week.

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