You'll return home feeling you've seen far more than you bargained for
Things To Do
Go in search of film locations across Dartmoor, which was used as the location for Steven Spielberg’s film, ‘War Horse’, in addition to being the setting for Conan Doyle’s novel, ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’. The blockbuster, ‘We Bought A Zoo’, though not filmed on Dartmoor, is based on a true story about Dartmoor Zoo.
Hop on the saddle and take a leisurely traffic-free cycle ride along the whole or a section of the 180-mile Tarka Trail, a figure of eight route based around Barnstaple and using old railway lines. Or cycle the Devon Coast to Coast route from Ilfracombe to Plymouth.
Enjoy a guided South Devon Wine Tour to visit local vineyards, and the opportunity to sample some of the local, award-winning wines from the county. It’s a great, alternative view of the Devon countryside and someone else gets to drive, so you can have a drink!
A firm family favourite and an award-winning attraction is The BIG Sheep in North Devon, providing some wacky entertainments including sheep racing, horse whispering, sheep shearing plus dog and duck trials.
Do all things Agatha Christie! Follow the literary trail across Devon discovering the inspirations for more than 20 of her novels, take part in the annual Agatha Christie Festival on the English Riviera, walk the Agatha Christie Mile, visit her former home, Greenway, where several of her thrillers were set and even be transported there by vintage bus from Torquay.
When To Visit
The Devon County Show kicks things off in May to get everyone involved with rural activities, while in June it is time for Croyde’s annual GoldCoast Oceanfest, celebrating music and watersports. June also sees the Lord Mayor’s Day in Plymouth, when a carnival atmosphere comes to town.
The skies above Tiverton are filled with hot air in July as the Balloon and Music Festival brings celestial colour, while September offers cerebral matter in the form of the Ocean City Festival in Plymouth, which links the city’s maritime heritage to the arts. Also taking place in September is Torquay’s International Agatha Christie Festival, celebrating the town’s association with the crime writer, as well as the Appledore Book Festival on the north coast. In October, it’s the turn of the south coast with the Plymouth International Book Festival.
Finally, for some classic English eccentricity, head to Ottery St Mary on 5 November, where you’ll find burning barrels of tar hoisted aloft through the streets in the annual Tar Barrel Rolling contest!
The M5’s junctions 27, 30 and 31 are the most useful to access much of Devon, using Exeter as a gateway. Or use the A303 and A30 from the east to reach East Devon and the Jurassic Coast.
To be cautionary, the A39 (junction 24 on M5) to North Devon is twisty and narrow in places, with steep hills at Porlock (1:4), Countisbury (1:4) and Barbrook (1:4) – and its fair share of hairpin bends – so larger vehicles may prefer to use an alternative route. That said, the A39 is one of the best roads for stunning views of the North Devon coastline and Exmoor if you’re taking it gently.
Watch out for Devon’s minor roads, particularly down to the beaches; they’re beautiful but hedges are high and they can be single-track, hence some campsites have recommended arrival and departure times. There’s no doubt that campervans have it easier than larger coachbuilts when they visit Devon, but with some forward planning, those with higher/wider/longer ‘vans can enjoy the county too. When touring, larger coachbuilts will find Exmoor and Dartmoor easier than the tiny roads of the south coast.