We feel so privileged to live in such a beautiful region. With rolling hills, picturesque countryside and surrounded by the sea, it is clear to see why Devon is so popular. If you are coming from further afield and planning a holiday in the region, you are in for a treat with a wealth of adventures waiting to be had. The Duke is the perfect base for your holiday, we are at the heart of both Devon and Cornwall allowing you to travel with ease and see all the regions hidden gems.
When talking about Devon, Steven Spielberg said “I have never before been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty”. We believe this perfectly describes this beautiful region and wanted to take the opportunity to share our love for some very special places with you.
We’re starting in North Devon with its rugged cliffs, quaint villages and towns as well as its stunning beaches. For those of you who love to surf, Croyde, Woolacombe and Saunton are the places to be! If you enjoy water sports, Active Escape provides plenty of exciting activities including coastal raftering and paddle boarding. If you fancy a more relaxed day out, Quince Honey Farm are a family run business with over 1000 bee hives. Or why not take a trip on the Lynton and Barnstaple Steam Railway through the dramatic North Devon scenery?
East Devon and Jurassic Coast
Moving down towards East Devon is the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site spanning 96 miles. The region has more beautiful beaches with Exmouth, Branscombe, Budleigh Salterton, Beer and Sidmouth Town Beach. East Devon is home to a number of places for a wonderful family day out including The Donkey Sanctuary and Otter Estuary Nature Reserve. How about a fascinating trip to Bickleigh Castle where you can tour the grounds and learn about the history of the castle, which dates back to 600 AD! For those of you who love nature walks, The Timeless Coast is a 7-day coast path walk which takes in the local highlights and even stops off at museums and galleries along the way. In fact you should definitely check out the full offer from the South West Coast Path as they have created several fantastic walks with Discover England – the photo opportunities would be incredible. You can also explore Seaton Wetlands, where you will find 4km of level trails and boardwalk alongside the River Axe. Finally Exmoor National Park is a 267-square mile unique landscape of moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland, great for children with lots of energy.
The area of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham is known as the English Riviera as a result of its family friendly, holiday atmosphere. The English Riviera is home to Compton Castle, where as well as exploring the history of the castle, you can try on medieval costumes and enjoy a picnic in the picturesque orchard. The English Riviera is also home to Kents Cavern, a prehistoric stone age cave that is over 400 million years old, it is incredible and they hold fantastic events including some ghostly evening activities! There are plenty of exciting days out for families, with Paignton Zoo and Living Coast a must-see for the animal lovers amongst you. Babbacombe Model Village is located just down the road; children will feel like giants as they explore the award winning miniature landscaped gardens and model scenes. You can also explore the English Riviera in style and climb aboard the Dartmouth Steam Railway, a 6.7 mile heritage railway. This list could go on and on, let’s just say for families you could go for the whole summer holidays and take a different trip every day!
Here is a collage of images taken by Leila, our Director of Marketing whilst at Babbacombe Model Village.
This wonderful city is home to the magnificent Exeter Cathedral, which at 900 years old is one of England’s most beautiful medieval cathedrals. For those of you looking for an educational day out, the RAMM Museum(Royal Albert Memorial Museum) is the perfect place to visit, explore the Egyptian tomb and say hi to Gerald. Another attraction is Exeter’s Underground Passages, built to bring fresh water into the city during the medieval period, some local friends recently took this trip having lived in the region all their life and were fascinated by all they learnt! After a wonderful day of exploring, pop into one of the many cosy tea rooms for a delicious cream tea or a drink by a roaring fire. If shopping is your thing then Princess Hay offers some fantastic brands for a day of treating yourself and with plenty of bars and cafes you can shop until you drop. A final stop at Exeter’s historic Quayside where you can enjoy a bite to eat in one of the lively pubs and restaurants. If you are looking for something more active, you can hire a canoe or bike for the perfect way to explore.
Dartmoor National Park is famed for its natural rugged beauty with miles of sweeping countryside and some of the most dramatic landscapes in the UK. Roadford Lake is situated in the beautiful surroundings of the Wolf Valley and is a must-visit attraction during your stay in Devon. Take a trip to Burrator Reservoir, a tranquil woodland with water surrounded by open moor. With 368 square miles of moorland, this is the perfect place for those who love nothing more than long walks in exquisite countryside. There are a fabulous array of walks to be had on Dartmoor including Devon’s Western Frontier, Bellever Forrest, Wistmans Wood in Princetown. Dartmoor is also home to Lydford Gorge, the deepest River Gorge in the South West. The gorge is home to lots of wildlife, so make sure you keep an eye out for woodland birds as you walk around. Dartmoor is known for its prison, which was originally built in 1809 to hold prisoners from the Napoleonic War. Today, the prison houses mainly non-violent offenders and is a category C. For those interested in the history surrounding the building, there is a museum located in the old dairy buildings where you can learn all about the prison and its inmates. We could do a whole blog on Dartmoor – there are so many incredible little tea shops serving a classic Devon cream tea (cream first!) there’s the Miniature Pony Centre, Haytor, Widdecombe, Spitchwick… all of which would provide amazing fun for all the family or a peaceful day exploring for couples of all ages, the walks can be easy or rugged, take a picnic or enjoy some local cheese and pickle – there are so many choices that we will do a full blog in the Autumn celebrating Dartmoor! But for now we must move on…
When we think of South Devon, our minds are filled with images of countryside and coastline. Visit Powderham Castle with its acres of grounds to explore and plenty of discoveries to be made, including their yummy café and farm shop. South Devon is also home to Buckfast Abbey, a working monestry where a community of Benedictine monks work self-sufficiently. Explore the tranquil gardens and Abbey Church, a spiritual haven for many. Totnes Castle is a perfect example of a classic Norman motte and bailey castle. This is a must see for history lovers, make sure to look for the ‘graffiti’ left by the prisoners of war during World War Two and afterwards explore Totnes with its lovely shops, bars, café and riverside walks. Or perhaps you’d enjoy a traditional seaside town – Dawlish holds many holiday memories for families around the UK, with the famous black swans, a beautiful beach and a quaint town centre with shops and cafes it is a lovely day out and you could even walk from Dawlish to Dawlish Warren along the sea walk, it’s about 5.6 miles and can be a gentle stroll with the promise of great ice-cream at both ends!
South Hams and Modbury
Hope Cove Beach is made up of two sandy beaches located in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Bigbury on Sea is just perfect for family holidays, the beach is dotted with rockpools making it the perfect place to explore. As well as lounging on the beach, there are plenty of water sports on offer including bodyboarding, windsurfing and kite surfing. Similarly, Salcombe is another fantastic location for those who enjoy water sports and is famed for its crystal blue waters. Located on the banks of the Salcombe estuary, it is the perfect base for a day trip by the sea and is known by many as one of the prettiest towns in Devon. Dartmouth is situated in the mouth of the River Dart and is known for its pretty town and beautiful landscape. Whether you enjoy kayaking, sailing and boat trips or simply relaxing on the beach, Dartmouth is the place to be. Blackpool Sands in particular is a simply stunning beach and is just a short drive away.
The following photos were taken whilst at Blackpool Sands, isn’t the beach stunning?
Our final stop is Plymouth, home to our magnificent hotel and fondly known as Britain’s Ocean City. There are a wealth of attractions to explore including Plymouth Hoe, with breath-taking views of Plymouth Sound. Climb 93 steps to reach the top of Smeaton’s Tower, formerly a working light house until 1877 with beautiful sea views once you reach the top! A short walk away is the Barbican, which is steeped in history with the Mayflower Steps. The Pilgrim Fathers set sail from The Mayfower Steps to cross the Atlantic Ocean for North America in 1620. For a fabulous day out for all the family, the National Marine Aquarium (the UK’s largest!) is a must see with a phenomenal underwater world waiting to be explored. For those looking for an evening out, Plymouth is home to the Theatre Royal and Plymouth Pavilions. There are a fantastic range of shows on offer, with something for everyone! The Royal William Yard is located just down the road from the hotel, with a wealth of trendy bars, restaurants and shops. It is the largest collection of Grade 1 listed military buildings in Europe. The list for Plymouth goes on and with incredible events throughout the year do check out our calendar to plan your trip with one of the city’s great weekends. Fashion in the City, The Seafood Festival and the Weekend of Wonders are all coming up in the next month!
There are so many wonderful places to visit in Devon, simply too many to name, but we hope that our small blog has tempted you to visit our beautiful region! If you’d like further inspiration then read our blog from 2016 where our team shared their favourite places and some hidden treasures.
We hope to welcome you to Devon soon!