Thursday, 5 November 2015

Devon in the Autumn

I hate being indoors. Being confined inside by bad weather or other annoying but necessary concerns - jobs, housework, waiting in for a delivery - can send me a bit cray-cray and I tend to panic about not being able to get out when the weather turns nasty. And so Autumn days signal a last-ditch attempt to get outdoors at every available opportunity, stockpiling reserves of vitamin D and wildly imploring my kids to breath in that fresh air and let the sun get to their pallid faces before the long winter kicks in.

And if there's anywhere to get a good dose of Autumn outdoor goodness, the Devon countryside and coast is it. On our recent trip to The Wood Life in Kenn, a small village just outside Exeter, we were blessed with benign days and mild evenings, allowing us to stay outdoors from early morning till late at night. In between hanging fire-side and stomping about in our own private wood, we boosted our serotonin in some lovely outdoor places.

With our nearest beaches straddling the optimistically-named English Riviera, we were keen to sample the coastal delights of this corner of the county. In all honesty, I prefer the beaches towards Dorset - such as Beer and Branscombe - or further South; Blackpool Sands near Dartmouth is a particularly lovely spot and isn't too far to travel if you find yourself based in the Exeter environs. 

That said, we enjoyed a lovely afternoon hanging out on the beach at Brixham, a bustling harbourside town where you can try your hand at crabbing, shop for souvenirs along the front or sit on the small beach, tucking into fish and chips - as a major UK fishing port, you can look forward to enjoying some of the freshest fish and sea food in the country here. We had some amazing cod, haddock and squid from Rockfish, a restaurant and takeaway overlooking the harbour.

Other beaches worth a peek include Babbacombe Bay and Oddicome Beach, which can be reached by a funicular railway for an added thrill kids will love. 

We didn't visit this time around, but Dartmouth is another highlight of this area. It's an upmarket resort full of lovely restaurants, quirky cafes and cute boutiques, as well as access to the aforementioned highly recommended Blackpool Sands, as well as other lovely coastal spots such as Slapton Sands and Bantham Beach.

Away from the sea, this corner of Devon is blessed with some idyllic countryside which really comes into its own on ethereal, mist-dappled autumn days. A walk through Dartmoor reveals tranquil, wooded corners and beautiful waterfalls. We enjoyed a meander through the peaceful Becky Falls where you can clamber over boulders and get close to the water. Other beauty spots in the area to check out include Lydford Gorge - the deepest gorge in the South West - and Parke, a peaceful gateway to Dartmoor where you can explore woodland and rivers.

For cream teas, independent bookshops and upmarket boutiques, Totnes is your place. It's a cute town with a cosmopolitan vibe - head to The Curator Cafe if you're missing your dose of hipster action. Plenty of other more traditional cream tea shops also abound.

For something totally different, don't miss Babbacombe model village - it's the antithesis of the modern family attraction and has a quaint, old-fashioned vibe that makes you feel as if you've been transplanted in the 1950s. It's a big outdoor space, where toy villages, shopping centres and famous landmarks nestle in amongst beautiful landscaping. They cut the grass surrounding the models with scissors - how cute is that! It's a big like Mini Land at Legoland and our kids were enthralled by it. 

For more suggestions of where to go in Devon, take a look at the tourist board website at

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