Caught between two beautifully contrasting coastlines - the craggy north, the gentler south – Devon holds much for the active, thoughtful, or downright dreamy visitor. There’s fine walking, particularly amid the rolling heights of Dartmoor and Exmoor, with a long-distance footpath, the 103-mile Two Moors Way, linking the two if you’ve a week to spare. Or there’s more manageable space near the small, north-coast town of Lynton in the stunning moonscape of The Valley Of The Rocks, where poets Wordsworth and Coleridge were inspired (look for the Valley’s picturesque wild goats).
The southern beaches of the English Riviera around Torquay are outstanding, and this is also where the world-famous author Agatha Christie was born, her life commemorated in a stroll known as the Agatha Christie Mile. For beach enthusiasts, Blackpool Sands, west of Dartmouth, is among Devon’s best, though this pleasingly rural county boasts many attractive resorts, fishing villages and protected swimming-spots. The extraordinary rocks and fossils of the Jurassic Coast around Sidmouth make up Britain’s first World Heritage Site and is a fascinating place.
Devon has urban attractions, too. Plymouth’s historic Barbican area offers a bustle of galleries, pubs and boutique shops, and the university city of Exeter is famous for its Romanesque cathedral and wonderfully-conserved 2,000 year old city wall; while western regions boast beautiful ancient mine-works. But the county’s more typically intimate charms lie in places such as the north-west fishing village of Clovelly, where history, atmosphere and seascapes combine pleasantly to showcase Devon’s complex but quiet appeal.