DEVON


UK SW England Beautiful sunrise at Combestone Tor Dartmoor South DevonDevon, the third largest county in England, is home to the Jurassic Coast, countless delightful seaside resorts and two natural parks- Exmoor and Dartmoor.  It is the only English county with two coastlines- at its north and south edges- and its inland  rolls with hills and parkland.

Devon is not heavily populated, so visitors wishing to avoid crowded streets have choices – as long as that choice doesn't include its popular beach resorts.  Its more imporessive beaches include Paignton Beach and Torquay in the southeast; and Woolacombe and Instow in the north.  Lucky visitors can even catch some of the local regattas when in season!

The Tarka Trail, nature parks, ancient castles and old architecture are also here.

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Points of Interest:   1. Ilfacombe  2. Coyde  3. Cloverely  4. Oakhampton  5. Exeter  6. Lydford  7. Princeton  8. Postbridge  9. Widecombe  10. Moretonhampstead  11. Plymouth  12. Totnes  13. Dartmouth  14. Brixham 15. Torquay

 


Ilfracombe Flickr me'nthedogsA rather romantic coastal town on the North Devon coast, Ilfracombe (pop. 10,510) combines the best of beach resorts with the feel of an intimate beach holiday. Locations to stay cater to everyone, from those stealing away for a weekend to a luxury hotel, to those who want to rough it in the caravan and camping grounds.

Braughton Flickr me'nthedogsBraunton (pop. 8,420) is said to be the biggest village in England, with a stream running through it as it overlooks the Barnstaple Bay. The village is a favourite spot for surfing enthusiasts and has a farmer’s markets as well as a brisk High Street.

Clovelly footpathClovelly (pop. 400) is a lovely fishing village set into a cleft of a steep cliff face. Fascinatingly, there are no cars here underpinning the atmosphere of a natural beachside resort.  Donkeys were once the main mode of transport between the beach to the village, but now the community relies on man-powered sledges.

Clovelly retains the essence of a fishing village – excellent seafood. There are silk artisans in the village, two museums and the Clovelly Court Kitchen Gardens.
  For some breathtaking views take a walk along the cliff tops.  A hike through along Hobby Drive provides a peek over Clovelly Harbour and Brideford Bay. An opposite path will take you to Heartland Point and a view of Mouth Mill Cove, where smugglers once practised their trade.

 


Okehampton ancient castle ruinsOnce a Saxon stronghold, Okehampton (pop. 5,850) slid into the English wool industry during medieval times.   It is perched at the northern edge of Dartmoor making it a suitable entry point into the national park.

Okehampton Castle
, originally maintained by the de Courtenay’s until Henry the VIII executed the patriarch, has left a impressively haunted set of ruins. Okehampton is one of the stops on the Dartmoor Railway line, and one of the best views of the castle ruins is from the passenger train.

The Museum of Dartmoor Life is a social history museumhousing a collection of historical objects as well as interactive galleries. Along St James is a Victorian Shopping Arcade with trinket and clothes shops lining the street in front of Georgian houses
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Exeter Quay Roman masonry that still stands today is a testament to the early history of Exeter (pop. 106,800). Named after the river Exe, the city proved to be a strategic location, as it was where the Exe could be easily crossed. After the Romans left, Exeter plunged into dark days until the Saxons arrived and decided that it was a good spot to start up a new comunity aside the Britons. Fortunately the architecture that the Romans left behind in their haste to leave provided ample infrastructure for both the Saxons and the Britons.

Eventually Exeter fell to the Danes, who were subsequently booted out by King Alfred. It then became a successful market town, and boomed commercially from then on. The Second World War resulted in Exeter’s bombing, causing the destruction of many heritage buildings and the rebuilding of the current, more modern city.

Exeter Cathedral interiorThe massive Cathedral Church of St Peter was built along the gothic lines of the nearby Salisbury Cathedral. The first view of the church is stony lattice worked front, beautifully intricate and commanding. The interiors are simply magnificient – fan-like vaulting decorate the ceilings, and an endless number of scultpures, tiles, stained-glass windows. A wall on the front is decorated with sculptures of past leaders, and one of the loveliest examples of stained glass can be seen in the East Window. The cathedral is open for worship as well as for general visitors.

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery was built on the inspiration of Prince Albert who supported educational reform in science and the arts. It was built as an all-in museum, library, art gallery, and school of arts and sciences. The building is a stoic but intricate structure of brickwork and pale arches. The library has moved out, and the schools of arts and science have been taken over by local universities; so the entire building is now devoted to the memorial and museum, focusing on fine arts, archaelogy, geology and a collection of costumes and textiles dating from the 1700s.

A must-do in Exeter is to follow the trail of Exeter’s Underground Passages. Once built as an underground network of pipes that provide fresh water for the city, the vaulted passages from the medieval times provided a safe haven for during World War II bombing raids.  

Exeter Castle TowerOne of the oldest ruins in Exeter, Rougemont, or Exeter Castle was torn down to make way for the Assize County Courts. The Georgian buildings within it were used as courts until they were recently opened to the public.  Castle Drogo is nearby
at Drewsteignton, and Powderham Castle is 8 miles away.

Northernhay Gardens, a huge piece of public space, are said to be the oldest in England. The park is maintained in a Victorian design, with a fine display of trees, shrubs and flowering plants. Built first by the Romans, the gardens were eventually laid out by the city council for the public.  Victorian statues are located throughout the gardens, the most famous being E. B. Stephens ‘Deerstalker’.

The Princesshay development provides a mix of small and department stores, while the High Street is home to the gorgeous old Guildhall. Harlequins houses more independent retailers, while the art and antiquity shops can be found in the the older areas of Exeter. 

 

 


Lydford Gorge WaterfallLydford was known as Hlidan when it was founded by Alfted the Great.  Its importance then was as a centre of military defence during the resistance of Viking invaders. Today it is a convenient gateway to Dartmoor National Park and the Soutron Tors Stone Circle.

Old-fashioned Lydford Church was named after the Welsh St Petroc, and thought to have been built upon the site of a simple shelter put up by St Petroc in his wanderings.

Lydford Castle carries in its stones a less-than-pleasant past – the castle was once a prison ruled by questionable justice. The malpractice within the local justice system led to the saying ‘Lydford Law’ – laws of questionable fairness. The castle still stands and is now administered by English Heritage.

Not much can beat the beauty of Lydford Gorge, the deepest in south-west of England. Trails are available for walking tourists, allowing them to see the wicked whirlpool of the Devil’s Cauldron and the White Lady Waterfall – serene until it rains and the waterfall is gorged by the river water.