South Devon - Holiday Cottages, Self Catering, Bed and Breakfast B&B, Activities and Attractions
The South of Devon is certainly an area of contrasts. To the west is the ancient seafaring city of Plymouth - a city which has bestowed its name on forty other settlements all over the world. To the east is the modern resort known as Torbay or The English Riviera which covers the three towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, and attracts visitors of all ages and interests throughout the year. To the north is the wild and rugged countryside of Dartmoor - the largest area of open country in the south of England.
Then we have The South Hams which lies on Devon's south coast, south of Dartmoor, and between Torbay and Plymouth. It is mostly within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, encompassing stunning coastline, sweeping rivers and estuaries, golden beaches and rolling countryside. Many bustling historic towns and picturesque villages can be found within the area, including Salcombe, Kingsbridge, Dartmouth, Totnes, Modbury, Hope Cove, Thurlestone and Torcross.
The name - South Hams,comes from an old English word, hamme, meaning an enclosed or sheltered place. Kingsbridge Estuary is at the centre of the landscape in the South Hams. Winding creeks and rolling patterned hills are a feature of the area around Kingsbridge but just twenty miles to the north is the very different landscape of Dartmoor. The 56 miles of heritage coastline and 342 square miles of the South Hams enjoys one of the mildest climates in the whole of Britain, probably enjoying two months less winter than other areas of the Country.
Right at the mouth of the Dart, is Dartmouth. It's winding streets climb steeply up the hills behind the town, and houses and shops cluster tightly, all facing out to the river. It's an easy town to walk around and is full of individual shops with a distinctly nautical flavour. Don't miss the Town Museum under the Butterwalk, picturesque Foss Street, the fabulous St Saviour's Church, Bayards Cove and its castle and the Newcomen Engine House.
Totnes has more listed buildings per head of population than anywhere else in Britain! It's long main street is full of fascinating individual shops which also reflect its reputation as the "alternative" centre of the South West. Climb to the top of its Norman Castle, visit its ancient Guildhall and Elizabethan museum, but also enjoys its wholefood shops and cafes, tow hand-made shoe shops or try an alternative therapy
There are a wealth of activities available in the area, many of which are enhanced by the natural beauty of their location. Sailing and watersports are extremely popular, with a superb range of facilities available around South Devon's coastline and estuaries. For walkers, the choices are almost endless with miles of clearly marked coastal and country paths. For the more adventurous walker, some time spent on Dartmoor is a must.
There are numerous leisure and activity centres. Farm and wildlife centres abound where you can meet some of the regions winged and four-legged inhabitants, and, for those just looking to enjoy some serious sunbathing, South Devon has some of the most beautiful, sheltered beaches in England.
For the Golfer, South Devon is a delight with a superb range of testing country and links courses, all of which offer experienced golfers a warm welcome.
South Devon has a selection of visitor attractions, indoor and out. Major attractions such as Powderham Castle, Exeter and Newton Abbot Racecourse and Buckfast Abbey are complimented by a variety of delightfully unusual places such as the Prickly Ball Hedgehog Hospital at Newton Abbot and the Cardew Teapottery factory and visitor centre at Bovey Tracey.
The Steam Railway at Buckfastleigh, the nearby Otter Sanctuary and Butterfly Farm, the Grand Pier at Teignmouth, the Miniature Pony Centre and Field of Moor Dreams at Moretonhampstead are all ideal family excursions. Children's rides can be found at the Trago Mills shopping and leisure complex and Dawlish Warren is a great family beach resort which includes an outdoor go-kart track. Canonteign and Becky Falls both provide access to wonderful river walks, and gardeners will love Orchid Paradise, Plant World.
Another of South Devon's major attractions is its history and architecture. Ancient, picturesque villages dot the countryside and hug secluded inlets and rivers. Quaint old stone cottages, beautiful crenelated churches that have withstood the ravages of time and weather since the 13th Century and earlier, magnificent Elizabethan and 17th Century houses, imperious forts and castles which stand guard still against foes long dead, all offer an insight into South Devon's long, and sometimes chequered, past. The many small local museums tell the stories of those centuries of history. Local heroes, smugglers and wreckers, naval battles, great discoveries, a lot has happened in South Devon in the last few hundred years or so!