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Most Viewed Favorites in Devon

  • grayfo's Profile Photo

    History of Devon

    by grayfo Updated Feb 8, 2011

    Favorite thing: The Devon name first appeared in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 851 as Defensascir, which appears to be derived from the Dumnonii, the Celtic tribe inhabiting the area. Devon was also called Dunan by the Cornish Britons and Deuffneynt by the Welsh.

    There is evidence of occupation in the county from Stone Age times onward. Its history starts in the Roman period when it was a civitas. It was then a separate kingdom for nearly 300 years until Wessex took control, when it became a shire. It has remained a largely agriculture based region ever since though tourism is now very important.

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    What Is Cycle Touring?

    by travelinxs Written Apr 11, 2010

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    Favorite thing: So what exactly is cycle touring? Or adventure cycling as its sometime referred to. I would define it as a journey where the predominant mode of transport is the bicycle involving at least one night spent somewhere other than the place of origin and final destination.

    There are probably three different types of cycle touring;

    A Supported Tour
    This is joining an organised tour where often all the luggage is carried by a support vehicle and experts are on hand to help with technical and health issues.

    Credit Card Touring
    Travelling with minimal luggage and staying over-night in fixed accommodation such as hotels or hostels.

    Independent Touring
    Fully loaded with everything including tent, cooking equipment, clothing and anything needed to maintain and repair the bike.

    But who is it for?

    Virtually anyone. If you can ride a bike, you can go touring. Don't like hills? Try The Netherlands. Too slow? There's no such thing. Hate camping? You don't have to. Only a weeks holiday available this year? Stay local. Little money? It doesn't have to cost a fortune. In fact, it can be much cheaper than nearly any conventional holiday. All these points are discussed in more detail throughout these tips.

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    Places, People, Pubs #7 - Hartland

    by johngayton Updated Dec 11, 2008

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    Favorite thing: Hartland is the peninsula protruding into the Atlantic on the north western corner of Devon, just before the border with Cornwall. The 17,000 acre parish (Devon's 2nd largest), with its 12 miles of stunningly rugged coastline, centres around its eponymous village (which the locals prefer to refer to as a TOWN) and really is one of the places here in Devon to get away from it all.

    The main road, the A39 (also known as the Atlantic Highway), forms the eastern border of the area as it departs its coastal route at Clovelly to head south towards Bude, thus leaving the peninsula itself without any main roadways. Hartland Village is connected to the mainland (as it were) by a short B-road loop and the rest of the villages and hamlets interconnected by single-track lanes, footpaths and bridleways.

    This is perfect walking country and offers an amazing diversity of scenery. The coastal footpath never loses sight of the sea and in places can be vertigo-inducing as it follows the cliff tops with the breakers of the Atlantic crashing on the jagged rocks hundreds of feet below. Inland, the footpaths variously meander the many river valleys or cross the high moorlands forming a spider's web network with the village as its nexus.

    The area's main coastal attractions are Hartland Point (with its lighthouse), Hartland Quay (with its pub) and Speke's Mill Mouth (with its waterfall) and during the summer these can get quite busy, especially at weekends. However you never have to walk far to get off the beaten path and no matter the season the scenery is always stunning.

    Inland there is the country home of the Stucley family, Hartland Abbey, formerly a monastery, which, with its grounds and gardens is open to the public on varying days according to time of year. The Abbey is situated in the valley below the magnificent 14th Century St Nectans Church with its 130 foot tower, which is North Devon's rival to Widdecombe "Cathedral of the Moor" .

    Hartland Village (TOWN!!) itself makes for an interesting diversion with its craft shops, galleries and potteries and has genuinely friendly locals who say Hi! and pass the time of day with all and sundry, local or visitor and of course this friendliness becomes especialy evident in the pubs of which the village has three, with a couple of others dotted around the rest of the parish.

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    Places, People, Pubs! #6 - Widecombe

    by johngayton Updated Dec 19, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Widecombe-in-the-Moor sits in the valley of The Webburn River in the heart of Dartmoor National Park, surrounded on all four sides by the high moorland and its rugged granite tors. The village itself is tiny, with a population of perhaps fifty people, tho' the surrounding parish, with its 196 (according to the official website) households, extends outwards covering quite a large area.

    Widecombe's 14th century church of St Pancras is its most distinctive feature and is commonly known as The Cathedral of the Moor on account of its capacity and its 120 foot tall Gothic tower. The church was built using locally quarried granite and funded by the local tin miners who, from its 14th century origins, had it extended and the tower built over the next 200 years to become the landmark that it is today.

    The village's other great claim to fame is its annual fair, the world-renowned "Widecombe Fair" celebrated in the well-known folksong with its characters of "Old Uncle Tom Cobley and All". The fair's origins probably go back as long as the village's history but it was only in 1850 that it became formally recognised and reported in The Plymouth Gazette as "a cattle fair". It is now held every year on the second Tuesday of September attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world plus the obligatory visit from Old Uncle Tom Cobley himself (who must certainly be getting on a bit as he was old even in 1880 when the words to the song were first penned!!).

    Apart from the church and fair, the village itself has much to commend it, being picturesque and unspoiled and located in one of the most stunningly beautiful natural wildernesses in the country. From the village there are superb moorland walks to be enjoyed, both beaten paths and remote unmarked tracks - in fact it is a policy of The Dartmoor National Park not to have "wayfarer" signage thus making the whole moor publicly accessible.

    Fondest memory: With its location and history Widecombe is a very popular tourist destination, especially for day-trippers and coach tours during the summer months and at bank holidays. As the sun goes down however, or the nights draw in, the village comes into its own; reasserting its moorland character, a character of inclusiveness and open-handed friendliness towards strangers and especially so in its pubs.

    Yep, that's my fondest memory of Widecombe: The Rugglestone Inn, known simply as The Ruggle, which is definitely my #1 pub of all time (those that know me will realise that this is praise indeed!!). If I ever forget the village's stunning location, forget its history, forget my view from my old bedroom window overlooking the green with its regular visitors of scraggy sheep and unkempt wild Dartmoor ponies, forget everything else that makes this village so special. Whatever I may forget I will never disremember The Ruggle, my little sanctuary where goodfellows well-met congregate, where the day's stresses and hassles instantly dissolve in pint glasses of amber nectar with convivial conversation punctuating the serious business of just generally unwinding.

    Aye, to quote myself:

    "The Ruggle is the archetype of the classic British country pub: thick stone walls, intimate little public rooms, roaring log fires, beer and cider straight from the barrel, decent wines, friendly and welcoming staff and owners, convivial locals, dog-friendly, muddy walking boots friendly, sheltered and well-kept garden, stunning rural scenery all around...ach the list is endless! Just imagine anything you could ever dream about for your perfect pub and that's The Ruggle :-) And I haven't even mentioned the delish, hearty, home-cooked food!!!"

    Widecombe is a village of about 50 persons and on a good night at The Ruggle at least 20 of them will be there and it is the people who make places!

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    Places, People, Pubs! #5 - Lynmouth

    by johngayton Updated Dec 18, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Lynmouth, along with its umbilically connected twin Lynton, just has to be my most favourite place on this, or any other, planet.

    Tucked below the cliffs overlooking its eponymous bay where the rivers East and West Lyn meet the sea on the North Devon coast, Lynmouth spent much of its formative years as a sleepy little fishing village whose catches would be landed for mostly local consumption. As with its twin sister, the village came into prominence in the early 1800's becoming popular as an out-of-the-way tourist destination for the middle and upper classes and especially attracting prominent writers and artists - Thomas Gainsborough, who spent his honeymoon there, described Lynmouth as "the most delightful place for a landscape painter this country can boast".

    Over the last century or so the village has hit National Press headlines on two occasions:

    The first, in January 1899, a triumphant tale of courage and endeavor when the Lynmouth lifeboat, "Louisa", was manually dragged overland the 13 miles across coastal Exmoor to be launched at Porlock for the succesful rescue of the stricken ship "Forest Hall", the weather being such that launching from Lynmouth had been deemed impossible.

    The second, more sombre, when the village was devastated by flooding in 1952 with the loss of 34 lives and the destruction of almost 100 buildings.

    The modern Lynmouth is still a sleepy fishing village during its winter months, tho' during the summer can be a very busy day-tripper attraction. However, despite its reliance on the tourist trade, it still manages to retain its individuality and character and even after a busy summer's day catering for the mass-market visitors reverts back to its real self in the evenings, that self still so beloved of writers and artists.

    Fondest memory: One of the (MANY!) unique things about Lynmouth is that it was a pioneer in the early days of sustainable electric production with its original hydro-electric plant being opened in March 1890 providing power for both the villages. After the flood in 1952 the damaged plant ceased to be used but in 1983 a new plant was built by Ken Oxenham at Glen Lyn Gorge which now supplies enough energy to the National Grid to once again make the twins self-sufficient with more to spare.

    Not only was Lynmouth an early pioneer in sustainable electric production it is still at the forefront with its fascinating experimental "Seaflow" tidal turbine generator and that's not to mention the solar-powered lighting on the Lynton-Lynmouth footpath!

    Of course there is so much more to this "sleepy little fishing village" than there is room for here in this all too brief intro. I haven't even mentioned my mate Tony at the Rising Sun, nor my various drinking buddies, nor have I mentioned that this is probably the most romantic place ever to take someone very special or even just to go by yourself to get away from it all. This is North Devon proper with "down-to-earth" characters, decent restaurants and hotels, great views, superb walks and of course The Pubs!!!

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    Places, People, Pubs! #4 - Lynton

    by johngayton Updated Dec 18, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Lynton, sitting atop the cliff above its Siamese twin Lynmouth, nestles on the shelf between Countisbury and Hollerday Hills overlooking the half-moon bay which leads out to the Bristol Channel on the north Devon coast.

    Until the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century the twin towns had a hermit-like existence being relatively inaccessible and servicing only their immediate locale. With the unrest in Europe North Devon gained popularity as a vacation destination for the monied classes and Lynton and Lynmouth became known for their natural beauty and relative isolation, attracting particularly writers and other artists - the poets Shelley, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Southey as well as the novelist R.D. Blackmore (who based Lorna Doone in the area) being amongst the famous visitors at the time. Thus the towns developed as a slightly upmarket tourist destination which is now their main livelihood.

    Fondest memory: Lynton isn't the sort of place to visit if you are searching for nightlife and excitement (tho' it does have its moments!) but rather for a proper break from the rigours of everyday life. This is a place to just chill-out, take it easy, enjoy the scenery, take in the sea air. If you are feeling energetic there is some great walking to be done in the area with its location on both The South West Coastal Path and The Tarka Trail.

    Having done your energetic bits during the day, there is a trio of cracking little pubs in the town centre with generally friendly locals and a good variety of restaurants and cafes. Also worth checking out for an evenings entertainment is the local cinema which with only 68 seats makes it one of the smallest mainstream cinemas in the country yet still manages to put on up-to-date releases.

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    Places, People, Pubs! #3 - Barnstaple

    by johngayton Updated Dec 16, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Barnstaple may not be the prettiest town in North Devon but it is unrivalled as the most useful and does have a very definite character. The town straddles The River Taw at the point where it starts to widen with its centre on the north bank, connected to the south bank by its 15th century Long Bridge and has been the administrative, commercial and cultural capital of North Devon for over 1,000 years, gaining Borough status during the reign of King Athelstan in the 10th century.

    With its fairly central location in North Devon Barnstaple has been a market town for most of its existence and the present Pannier Market (with its adjoining Butcher's Row) was built in 1855, the year after the railway arrived. This centrality also means the town is the transportation hub for the region providing excellent bus services to both the stunning North Devon coast and the equally beautiful surroundiing countryside as well as being the crossroads for the 180 mile loop of the walking and cycling pathways of The Tarka Trail.

    Fondest memory: Barnstaple is very much an up-and-coming small town with an eclectic mix of "High Street" and very individual small local retailers as well as providing all the amenities required from a regional capital and in many ways puts its big sisters of Exeter and Plymouth to shame. No matter what I need to do in Barnstaple it never ceases to amaze me with the way that it always seems to have exactly what I wanted, exactly when I want it and has the friendliest shops and stores imaginable - in fact no shopping expedition fails to also provide for an entertaining social experience.

    As well as being such a useful retail centre the town is also home to a lively sports and cultural environment with its Queens Theatre, The North Devon Leisure Centre, a multi-screen cinema plus various other vibrant arts and music venues. And of course last but not least there are some great pubs!!!

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    Places, People, Pubs! #2 - Exeter

    by johngayton Updated Dec 13, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Exeter is Devon's county capital and is often referred to as: "The Gateway To The Westcountry". It was the Romans who first recognised Exeter's strategic location (naming it Isca Dumniorum) as a crossing point of the River Exe, basing a garrison here and building a walled fortress, of which remains are still visible in The Rougemont Gardens. Exeter's subsequent development as a city has a very rich history which almost mirrors the whole of England's as the Romans were replaced with variously the Saxons, Danes and Normans. By all accounts it was the Saxons (in the 7th century) who coined the name Exe "ceaster", a "ceaster" merely the name for a town which had previously been occupied by the Romans. The Normans arrived about 1068 rebuilding the Cathedral with its now distinctive twin towers and a castle within the city walls - just to let the local populace know who was in charge! In between Saxon and Norman occupation the Danes dropped by from time to time to do their usual rape and pillage bit whilst the local kings (Alfred the Great and Athelred to name but two) occasionally took a bit of interest and tried to keep the pillagers out with generally very little success.

    With the stabilising Norman influence the city developed as a trade centre in conjunction with its neighbouring port of Topsham and became a major player in the wool industry in particular.

    Exeter is still very much "The Gateway To The Westcountry", being the terminus of the M5 motorway and the nexus of the main rail lines from both London and the north and is the hub from which the southwest becomes accessible by all form of transport.

    Fondest memory: As a modern city Exeter is a bit of a mish-mash with timber-framed Tudor buildings vying for space with multi-storey car-parks, local redstone churches shoulder to shoulder with concrete and plate glass shopfronts! The 60's developers here have done the city very few favours and the High Street in particular doesn't give the casual visitor the best of impressions of what is actually a very unique and intrigueing city. With Exeter everything is just that little bit "off-the-beaten-path" even if you are in the middle of the High Street - which, for instance, has the world's narrowest street leading from it (to a modern mini-monstrosity of a shopping mall!).

    As a place for people Exeter has changed in recent years, it has become more dynamic, awakening from its sleepy Devon roots to join the modern provincial city life-style - which isn't necessarily a good thing from THIS writer's point of view but yes she does have a vibrancy and still retains a character of her own and I still love her - and the pubs still serve a decent pint of beer!!

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    Places, People, Pubs! #1 - Plymouth

    by johngayton Updated Dec 10, 2007

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    Favorite thing: Plymouth is Devon's largest city with a population of about a quarter of a million and is tucked in the county's south-western corner nestling against the border with Cornwall. Plymouth's development as a city is due to its location on its eponymous Sound, between the mouths of the rivers Plym and Tamar, which is one of Europe's largest natural harbours. Thus the city has a long maritime history and has been a naval dockyard for about 500 years.

    It was from Plymouth that The Pilgrim Fathers sailed for America in 1620 and where Sir Francis Drake reputedly finished his game of bowls before sailing to defeat The Spanish Armada in 1588. Because of its importance as a naval dockyard it was targetted by The Luftwaffe during World War 2 and the city centre all but levelled during the 1941 blitz.

    The modern Plymouth has therefore evolved from very much a "tabula rasa", beginning with the visionary 1943 "Plan For Plymouth" drawn up by the civic designer Sir Patrick Abercrombie and the city engineer James Paton Watson. The centre was rebuilt over a 20-year period and was designed specifically to be as pedestrianised as possible with the main boulevard of Armada Way, which runs straight through the centre from the railway station to The Hoe, being completely traffic-free. Whilst the concrete reconstruction is often derided as being stark and soul-less, this, to my mind, isn't a justified criticism in that the city is now a pleasant, relaxed, energetic space which is safe and accessible and above all functional.

    Fondest memory: Of course there is more to Plymouth than just its shopping centre. The Barbican area down by the old Sutton Harbour (from where The Pilgrim Fathers sailed) is a largely untouched "village within a city" retaining many original Elizabethan and Jacobean buildings on its cobbled streets and is now up-and-coming as the city's restaurant and nightlife district and of course has LOTS of Pubs!!

    Plymouth, as a people's city, is, and always has been (its inhabitants sided with the Parliamentarians during The Civil War) very much a proletarian city with friendly down-to-earth locals but is also very much a cultured city with a strong theatre tradition, a great music scene, art galleries and museums and its university is now the 4th largest in Britain.

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    Our Travels in Devon

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Apr 17, 2006

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    Favorite thing: On our Christmas 2005 trip (indicated by the Blue route along the north coast), we had been blessed with a sunny day for our drive from 'Bradford-on-Avon' (red dot), all the way across 'Somerset' and finally into 'Devon' as we entered the western edge of Exmoor National Park (shown in green) before calling it a day in Barnstaple (orange dot). Unfortunately, our luck did not hold the next day and it turned out to be a cloudy but mostly showery day as we continued onward to Truro, Cornwall where we linked up with the Black route from our February, 2004 trip.

    The pointer indicates the location of Exeter, the major city and capital of Devon, where we have stopped for a night on previous trips. Just to the west of Exeter, but inside the green Dartmoor National Park is where we had our lunch in Moretonhampstead. In 1990 we also enjoyed a day on the coast at Sidmouth, just east of Exeter on the curving Lyme Bay along the south coast.

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    Quest

    by freya_heaven Updated Jul 30, 2004

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    Fondest memory: Quest is an alternative, natural health festival held at Newton Abbot racecourse which takes place every year, normally early July.

    Every type of alternative therapy you could think of & more are on offer here, from sitting under a metal frame to give you energy to having your aura photo taken to participating in a sweat lodge in a tepee!!

    Most of the therepies I take with a pinch of salt, but it is a great atmosphere & there are lots of stalls & a music tent, which puts on some good performers. I have been every year for about 5 years now & its a pleasant day out. You can also camp on site as the festival is spread over 4 days, with different performances each day.


    Photo is of my friend in the Chi Cafe, waiting for our Falafal.

    (~_~)

    Click on Quest for more info

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    Dartmouth Regatta

    by freya_heaven Written Jul 14, 2004

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    Fondest memory: The Regatta at Dartmouth is "THE" event of the year. People from all over pour in to the town to watch the sailing & watersport races, barrel rolling etc. There are about 10 days of events, competitions, exhibitions, street performers, the excellent Red Arrows do a display & various other air displays, the fair comes to town & fireworks on at least one of the nights. The atmosphere is wonderful, the town is buzzing.

    Have a look at the web site I have included to see just how much goes on here.

    We usually use the park & ride facility just outside Dartmouth as parking really is impossibe at Regatta time.£5.50 for the park & ride, bit steep but you really have no alternative.

    http://www.dartmouthregatta.co.uk/index.htm

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    Woolacombe

    by JulesH Written Nov 11, 2002

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    Favorite thing: Memories of my childhood. My parents used to bring us here when my brother and I were little. We stayed in a hotel along the sea front and we always looked forward to playing on the swing boats shown in the picture. I was happy to see it still as I remembered it over 15 years later.

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  • "Little Switzerland of England"

    by DellyM Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Favorite thing: My favourite thing about Lynmouth was the views. This area is known as the "little Switzerland of England" due to the spectacular cliffs and the pretty wooded valleys.
    Approximately 500 feet up the hillside from Lynmouth sits the town of Lynton. There is a water powered cliff railway (built in 1890) which transports the weary from one town to the other.

    Fondest memory: My fondest memory of our holiday in Lynmouth is the feeling of acheivement at the end of each day's walk! We walked for miles and saw some breathtaking views.

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    Exmoor

    by JulesH Updated Jul 24, 2005

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    Favorite thing: The breathtaking views over the moors were astounding. Arrest that woman for crimes against fashion though!

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