With over 120 miles of coastline, three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, the South West Coast Path and a host of nature reserves, South Devon is about as juicy as it gets for a weekend break. So pull on your boots and embrace the adventure.
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1.Take the ‘Taste of the Teign’ trail
Take a culinary journey around the beguilingly beautiful Teign Estuary in South Devon thanks to the Taste of Teign trail. The trail takes in: Old Walls, the steepest vineyard in England; the Red Rock Brewery, renowned for its craft beers and real ales; Shute Fruit and produce, where you can pick your own fruit and even learn how to make preserves; Milltop Orchards, where you can enjoy seasonal fruit, apple juice and cider; and Luscombe Farm Shop, where you can buy seasonal vegetables picked from the fields above the estuary.
On the tour you’ll discover the location of the Teign Estuary’s world-renowned mussel and oyster beds, and you’ll be taken to a host of local cafes, restaurants and pubs surrounding the estuary where produce from its fields and waters, alongside fresh fish and crustacean landed at Teignmouth Harbour, can all be enjoyed.
A map of the trail, which has been produced by local artist Laura Wall, will be available to download here.
Discover more: Taste of Teignmouth
2. Hop on the oldest foot passenger ferry in England
Also in Teignmouth you’ll find the oldest foot-passenger ferry in England. Hop aboard and cross the Teign Estuary to Shaldon where you’ll find lovely pubs, the highly regarded Clipper Café, and the award-winning ODE-dining and café-ODE.
Don’t forget to take the opportunity to descend through the smugglers’ tunnel, which is carved through the red rock of The Ness, to a hidden beach on the other side. You’ll also find Shaldon Zoo – the smallest in England – right next to the entrance to the smugglers’ tunnel, so you can manage both in one hit, if you like.
3. Go wild at Bushcraft camp
Located at the Raleigh Estate on the banks of the River Dart, South Devon’s bushcraft camp opens for adventure in March. The camp, which can comfortably cater for up to 25 people under a canvas shelter, teaches you essential bushcraft skills including building shelters, lighting fires, and collecting and cooking wild food.
You’ll also learn how to sea kayak, exploring the coast and fishing the shores for your dinner. This is true off-grid bushcraft: gas lanterns and candles are used for lighting; there’s no electricity or mains running water, drinking water is taken to the camp in a barrel and there are dry toilets on sites. In total there are four sleeping shelters, which sleep about 8 people in each. Groups can stay for one or two nights. The camp is fully catered but guests can opt to self cater if they prefer.
The new bushcraft camps will operate from March through to October 2017. (Prices from £175 per adult.)
4. Gobble down artisan pizza
Award-winning South Devon restaurant and cafe business Ode ‘true food’ has opened a new concept in pizza restaurants, Ode&Co ‘true pizza’, at Coast View
Holiday Park in Shaldon. The new Ode ‘true pizza’ restaurant is a 100-seat venue with views across Lyme Bay serving artisan sour dough pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven, fresh pasta and grills from an open kitchen. The pizza chef is Mario from Naples, who has spent the last three years in London at one of the capital’s top pizzerias.
Discover more: Ode True Food
5. Stay in an 18th-century folly
The Haldon Belvedere (Lawrence Castle) is an 18th-century turreted folly sitting 882 feet above sea level near Haldon Forest, only a few miles Exeter. It has breathtaking panoramic vistas over the Devon countryside and a rooftop terrace that provides astonishing night sky views of the constellations. On a clear day you can see Portland Bill and due to its incredible 360 degree views, you can see every sunrise and every sunset from its elevated position.
Its luxurious penthouse apartment is perfect for romantic couples. It has a lofty ceiling, Georgian gothic detailed doors and windows, a separate bathroom with bath and shower, and a fully fitted kitchen built into the two turrets.
Discover more: Haldon Belvedere
6. Make Preserves at River Cottage HQ
Get stuck into seasonal jam, pickling and bottling, with a day of perfect preserves with chef and cookery writer, Rachel de Thample, at the River Cottage Cookery School. Costing £195 per person the day-long course includes four preserving sessions and a two-course lunch of local, seasonal fare featuring a smattering of favourite preserves.
This seasonal series of preserve courses will equip you with all the techniques and tips you need to feel confident bundling your precious produce into cordials, jams, chutneys, pickles, liqueurs, homegrown tisanes, gut-friendly ferments and more.
Discover more: River Cottage
7. Eat fresh crab at Ladram Bay
Set in a stunning waterfront location with dramatic views across the Jurassic Coast, Ladram Bay Holiday Park is a great place to stay and eat.
As well as its own Seafood Shack where you can purchase the local catch of the day, you can tuck into delicious local food at the holiday park’s new Beach Shack – located on a private beach. Ladram Bay also has brand new ‘Coco Suite’ glamping pods that sleep up to four people.
Discover more: Ladram Bay
8. Take on Devon’s newest BMX bike track
Set in 90 acres of beautiful Devon countryside, the award-winning River Dart Country Park has just opened a new treat for thrill-seekers. Its purpose-built BMX track is open to all ages and skill levels.
The track has already been a huge hit amongst the few who have been lucky enough to try it, including the country’s top young BMX riders. Best of all, it’s open all year round and is free to use for River Dart Country Park campers and day visitors.
Discover more: River Dart Country Park
9. Chill with a heavenly hot tub
Book yourself into a ‘glaravan’ with Beverley Holidays. These luxurious caravans come complete with their own private hot tub.
The family-run group of three holiday parks on the English Riviera has invested more than £1million in a state-of-the-art fleet of ‘glaravans’ that transport guests to hot tub heaven.
Discover more: Beverley Holidays
10. Climb a tree or four
The National Trust’s Knightshayes house, just off the M5 at Tiverton, has created a large, natural woodland play area from four large oak trees, felled in winter storms. New for the 2017 season, it includes a tree house, tunnels in the trunk and plenty of places to swing from.
The play area is part of the Gothic mansion, Knightshayes, which boasts lots of walking opportunities – including many formal gardens, parkland and woods too. There’s a kitchen garden too and a wonderful on-site cafe which serves up hearty food all year round.
Discover more: Knightshayes
Where to stay
Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of cottages, guests houses and B&Bs to choose from in South Devon, close to towns like Shaldon, Teignmouth and Bishopsteignton. Alternatively, you can camp, caravan, cottage, holiday home or book an apartment with Cofton Country Holidays.
Close to Powderham Castle and set in 80-acres of parkland, Cofton Country Holidays is easy to reach (20 mins from the M5 and Exeter) and is loaded with impressive facilities. Expect an all-year round heated indoor pool, restaurant, pub, fitness studio, soft play area, playground, sports wall, woodland adventure area and five well-stocked coarse fishing lakes.
Discover more: Cofton Country Holidays.