A mini guide to: Devon

BY Josh Ferry Woodard

1st Jan 2015 Travel

A mini guide to: Devon

Home of the English Riviera, Devon is blessed with secret smugglers' coves, beautiful granite-capped mountains and stunning surfer's paradises.

Dine in the ‘Moor

dartmoor ponies

Dartmoor National Park is home to a beautiful barren landscape of granite-capped mountains (Tors) and endless picturesque green valleys interspersed with brushstrokes of purple heather, yellow buttercups and orange bracken. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon stroll.

Be sure to pack warm clothes—Dartmoor’s volatile microclimate means clear blue skies can turn into fierce foggy squalls in a matter of minutes.

After working up an appetite looking for Dartmoor ponies and hiding from the Hound of the Baskervilles, head for The Old Inn in the idyllic town of Widecombe-in-the-Moor.

Dine beside the fire in winter and take advantage of the gorgeous beer garden—complete with streams, fountains, and island picnic tables—during the summer.

This stonewalled rural tavern serves all the classic pub dishes alongside an agreeable selection of real ales. The meat is sourced locally from Dartmoor farmers and there’s no better way to enjoy it than as part of a traditional Sunday roast dinner.


Family fun

tiger in Paignton Zoo
One of the tigers of Paignton Zoo. Image via Wiki

The kids will love a day trip to Torbay—home of the English Riviera—to visit the 2,000 or so animals that live in Paignton Zoo’s 80-acre grounds.

Ride the Jungle Express Train and keep your eyes peeled for majestic lions and tigers, pink flamingos, kaleidoscopic peacocks and some territorial apes battling for supremacy on Gorilla Island.

Look to the sky and, if you’re lucky, you might spot a troop of Tarzan-like gibbons swinging from branch to branch in the canopies.

Afterwards, spare the little ones some change for a go on the dodgems or the penny pushers at Paignton Pier.

Then take some time out to discuss everybody’s favourite animal over a box of fish, chips and mushy peas in the quaint harbourside fishing village of Brixham.


Get in the sea

Croyde Bay
Image via Pitch Up

North Devon’s Atlantic coast is blessed with a number of impressive wide-bayed beaches with powerful breakers. But few compare to the surfer’s paradise of Croyde Bay.

Beginners would be advised to take a lesson from one of many dedicated surf schools, but experienced surfers—or the wild at heart—can simply hire a board and brave the waves alone.

Grab a pint at The Thatch post-surf, or drive five minutes down the coast to Saunton Sands for stunning sunset scenes across the three-mile long dune-backed beach.


A secret treat

Shaldon beach
Shaldon beach. Image via Teign Crest

The tiny seaside village of Shaldon on the south bank of the Teign estuary may seem like an idyllic spot in its own right.

But those in the know will tell you that it’s not worth visiting Shaldon unless you venture down the centuries old redbrick Smugglers Tunnel to the secret and secluded Ness Cove on the other side of the cliff.

smugglers tunnel

Legend has it that this damp passageway was dug out by pirates who used it to smuggle contraband goods into the country by candlelight.

If you make it back through the tunnel without running into a smuggler, it’s not a bad idea to stop off at The Ness for a traditional Devon cream tea: crumbly rich scones with lashings of thick clotted cream and sweet strawberry jam.