One of the main reasons for visiting South Devon is its many rich offerings; miles of dramatic coastline, beaches, walks, wildlife, pubs, villages, harbours and castles. We’ve picked ten of the best things to do in South Devon to make your summer a memorable one.
1. Explore one of Devon’s finest castles
Just a short distance from the Cathedral City of Exeter, overlooking the Exe Estuary, is the enchanting Powderham Castle. Renowned for its gardens, tranquil grounds and events, including Toby Buckland’s annual garden show in late April, its October food festival and themed family friendly summer events, this pretty castle, close to the sea, has many secrets to discover. As well as hidden corridors and secret mirrors that unveil stunning vistas, Powderham has an animal petting area, woodland trails, deer safari and huge wooden fort. Add to that an excellent farm shop and restaurant and you have a great day out.
2. Set jet
Set jetting is a thing! Pretend you’re an actor for the day and visit the location spots of famous films. South Devon has dozens of locations to visit where films such as International Velvet were shot.
The most recent of these films is The Mercy, starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz. Based on a true story, the film, set in Teignmouth, tells the fateful tale of yachtsman Donald Crowhurst who tried to fool the world into believing he was winning the Sunday Times Golden Globe Single Handed Yacht Race. Visit Teignmouth and discover all the many locations in and around the town where Colin and Rachel were filmed.
3. Be adventurous!
If you fancy something a little more energetic you can cycle, kayak, canoe or walk along the Exe Estuary to the Turf Locks, a favourite with the locals. A little further away, thrill seekers can Go Ape, whizzing through the treetops along zip wires at Haldon Hill. For a tranquil alternative, Exe Adventures offer Stand Up Paddle Board experiences along the Exe Canal.
4. Go wild Devon
If you love the natural environment Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve is a must. Here you’ll discover miles of bleached sands and one of the most important sites for wildfowl and wading birds in the whole of the South West. Dunlin, Grey Plover, Bar Tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Brent Geese, Wigeon and Teal can all be spotted. You can enjoy miles of sandy walks along Dawlish Warren Beach, stretching all the way to the mouth of the River Exe. The far reaches are rarely visited, so a top tip is to stride out to discover your own stretch of private beach.
5. Have a taste of the Teign
Love seafood? Then you need to visit the pretty seaside town of Teignmouth, home to great seafood restaurants and a lovely deli. The town is part of the Taste of the Teign self-guided Trail, which takes visitors on a journey of culinary discovery around the beguilingly beautiful Teign Estuary.
The trail, which can be downloaded here takes in: Old Walls, the steepest vineyard in England; the Red Rock Brewery, renowned for its craft beers and real ales; Shute Fruit and produce, where you can pick your own fruit and even learn how to make preserves; Milltop Orchards, where you can enjoy seasonal fruit, apple juice and cider; and Luscombe Farm Shop, where you can buy seasonal vegetables picked from the fields above the estuary.
Add to this the Teignmouth Folk Festival in June, the Teignmouth Water Carnival and Regatta in August, the Taste of the Teign food and drink festival in September, and the Powderham Food Festival in early October and you have a host of reasons to visit South Devon and Teignbridge.
6. Hop aboard England’s oldest foot ferry
While visiting Teignmouth, don’t miss the opportunity to take a trip on board the oldest passenger ferry in England. Cross the Teign Estuary to Shaldon where you’ll find lovely pubs, the highly regarded Clipper Café, and the award-winning ODE-dining, ODE&Co Ocean View and café-ODE.
7. Discover a smuggler’s tunnel
The enchanting village of Shaldon, located at the mouth of the Teign Estuary, has a beautiful river-front beach, but it also has a secret cove too, which you can discover by descending through a smugglers’ tunnel, carved through the red rock of The Ness. The fact that this was ever created is quite simply mind-boggling, and it’s an absolute must-do experience, as the beach on the other side is a real gem.
Helen Scott is a Director at Cofton Holidays. Cofton Holidays is a family-run holiday park set within 80 acres of glorious South Devon countryside.
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