When asked to say three words that describe the county they live in, the various individuals who are interviewed each month for Devon Life’s My Devon feature, quite often come up with: Devon is heaven.

Of course they do! This is after all a county that boasts stunning and varied landscapes, from coast to moor and everything in between, and it’s a welcoming county too, people are, in their own quiet way, proud to live here and they’ll gladly share their passion for the county with visitors.

Devon is unique in having two separate coasts and they are very different in character. Surfers and walkers will head to less populated North Devon to explore the wooded sea cliffs of Exmoor and the expansive sandy beaches of Woolacombe and Saunton. By contrast, the southern coastline includes family hotspots like the English Riviera and the characterful towns and beaches along East Devon’s Jurassic coastline. Then there are the hidden coves of South Hams, waiting to be explored.

The county has an array of nature reserves reflecting its diverse wildlife habitats, and, in part due to its strong horticultural history, it boasts many beautiful gardens to explore, from big public estates to those private gardens that open through the year for the National Gardens Scheme.

Dartmoor is a cherished National Park lying at the centre of the county and it simply begs to be explored. It’s rich in ancient sites and associated folklore and, tucked away along its edges, are vibrant towns and enchanting villages, complete with independent shops, historic pubs, thatched cottages and tea rooms.

The county’s undulating landscape suits smaller farms and so when you think of Devon, deep country lanes enclosed in high hedgerows come to mind. Yes, be warned drivers from the States, we have plenty of those!

Any visit to the county should include a trip to one of Devon’s cities, Plymouth and Exeter. With its rich naval history, vibrant arts university, award-winning The Box museum and art gallery and being home to the largest regional producing theatre in the county, Plymouth Theatre Royal, Britain’s Ocean City has so much to offer, and Exeter is a perfect size for exploring, with its Quayside, independent shopping quarters, as well as the impressive Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) and of course the city’s gem, Exeter Cathedral.

Devon truly is heaven.

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Where the Bristol Channel meets the Atlantic, Lundy island is just three miles long and half a mile wide. It is a wildlife haven, and with no roads or cars, offers a true escape from everyday life. Book a day trip or stay in one of its characterful Landmark Trust holiday cottages.

Royal William Yard
These extraordinary buildings on Plymouth’s seafront are Grade I listed and once formed the Royal Navy’s victualling yard. The site is now a thriving area for eating, drinking and shopping. Hop on a boat and take the short trip to the bustling Barbican, another popular harbourside area, with plenty to discover and entertain.

Exeter Cathedral
The two towers either side of Exeter Cathedral are what remains of the Norman building, and the impressive West Front is one of the greatest architectural features of medieval England. The cathedral lies at the heart of the city on Cathedral Green, where you’ll often find markets taking place.

Haytor, Dartmoor
One of the easiest and most accessible ways to experience Dartmoor is by visiting Haytor, which lies on its south eastern edge. It’s mind boggling to think that the rocky granite outcrops, like Haytor, that characterise Dartmoor were formed over 280 million years ago.

Salcombe is just one of Devon’s many coastal and waterside towns, and it has plenty to offer visitors. Its old narrow streets are filled with fashionable independent shops and places to eat and it has access to beaches, some of which lie a ferry ride away across the water.

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This article appeared in the Great British Staycations magazine.

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