Did you know that the English Riviera has been a UNESCO Global Geopark for the past 10 years? Torbay received international recognition for its geological, historical and cultural heritage. The area has welcomed tourists for centuries, drawn by the beauty of the area stretching from Torquay to Brixham – the latter has a life-size replica of the Golden Hind. Torquay was also the home of the world’s most widely read crime writer, Agatha Christie, and it celebrates the connection with an annual festival in September and tours. Farther around the coast is Salcombe, voted Britain’s favourite seaside resort in 2017 and, unsurprisingly, a busy little place. It’s on the Kingsbridge Estuary and offers superb beaches, great pubs and restaurants, and even a castle. Farther still is Bigbury-on-sea, with its vast, sandy beach perfect for wind- and kite-surfing. Depending on the tide, walk or take the sea tractor to Burgh Island and admire the Art Deco hotel, which might have been a favourite haunt of Christie’s detective, Hercule Poirot. While Devon’s south coast is known for its sandy beaches, the north coast is an altogether wilder affair, where the cliffs drop straight into the sea, but you’ll find huge stretches of sand at Woolacombe and Saunton and a fantastic dune system at Northam Burrows Country Park. Follow the South West Coast Path around the Hartland peninsula, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with wonderful coves, beaches and waterfalls, and from where you can spot seals, dolphins and puffins – and don’t miss the trafficfree fishing village of Clovelly, with its cobbles.
Moors and tors
Inland you have the moorlands of Dartmoor National Park, punctuated by granite tors and wooded valleys, not forgetting the ponies. Drive, cycle or walk the moors, but stop at the visitor centre, the miniature pony centre, the otter sanctuary, Buckland Abbey and Castle Drogo. Devon’s interior also includes the Coldharbour Mill Working Wool Museum and Country Park, Tiverton and Bickleigh Castles. For a dose of city life, choose between Exeter, with its Gothic cathedral and quayside full of great eateries, and Plymouth, a port rich in maritime heritage and still active with the comings and goings of naval vessels. Visit the Hoe and the Barbican for restaurants and cafés.
■ Turn to p85 of the Top 100 guide for site info
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Plymouth Sound Caravan and Motorhome Club site is well located for exploring the city. Picturesque Clovelly. Dartmoor has some fabulous walks