Seeking a getaway into nature filled with castles and coastal walks? Why not put together a South Devon itinerary? I was lucky enough to spend an entire month hiking Dartmoor National Park and some of the best places to visit in Devon. Now I want to share my travel tips so you can have a flawless South England holiday.
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South Devon Itinerary
If you only have a few days in Devon to spend, I say stick to one area: either you plan a beach holiday in Devon or opt for an outdoor trip around the national park Dartmoor.
This way, you don’t have to travel around too much and can spend more time enjoying where you already are. No need to stress yourself out on your Devon holiday.
To get the best of both worlds, I recommend staying in and exploring Ashburton like I did and joining a hiking tour up to the hounds.
Day 1 – Beaches
If you are more of a fan of forests and animal, there are plenty wonderful spots as well. For bird watching, start your day at Dawlish Warren nature reserve. It has thousands of birds feeding and nesting here. Plus, you can combine it with casual walks along the beach.
Take the bus southward towards Teignmouth, where you can laze at the tributary and the beach promenade. You can take the ferry to cross over and then bus down to the prehistoric cave in Torquay or even attend the Pirate Festival in Brixham if you visit in May.
Day 2 – Historic Sites
The next day, head over to Totnes and explore the beautiful woods around Dartington Hall. In the spring, they are full of wild garlic and bluebells.
You can take the bus or wander back into town and then over to Berry Pomeroy Castle. It is an English Heritage Site, which means it’s included in your English Heritage Site Pass.
Totnes itself begs to be explored as well. The castle in the centre of town, the vintage and indie shops along the cobblestone streets, the weekend market. It’s extremely quaint and super adorable. Plus, there are plenty of foodie stores and a range of hip cafes to please a foodie’s heart.
More tips: Where to find carpets of bluebells in Devon
Day 3 – Castles and Coves
The next day, take the bus and/or train to Kingswear and take the ferry over to Dartmouth and down to Dartmouth Castle. On a rainy day, you can explore the castle museum and learn more about the fortifications along the coast of South Devon. Or check out museums in Dartmouth’s town centre.
Definitely worth a short hike is the up to Gallants Bower from Dartmouth Castle for a stunning view over the bay and Dartmouth in the distance.
Feel like a longer hike? Take the trails along the coast from Castle Cove over Ladies Cove to Shinglehill Cove. At the end is a small carpark from where you can get back to Dartmouth Castle.
One main appeal of a trip to Devon in England is its stunning national park. It’s elevated and full of stunning vistas, ancient sites and haunted tales. Plus, if you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you have to visit. (Hound of Baskervilles, anyone?)
There are plenty of cottages around Dartmoor national park so you are based in the middle of the beautiful landscape and can get to hiking right away. Great starting points are Ashburton in the South, Tavistock to the East and Okehampton to the North.
Day 4 – Moor Hiking
For a day up on the moors, get your way up Dartmoor and take one of the many trails up there. I loved the shorter walk around Grimspound, for instance. A moderate hike with marvelous views and fairy tale like valley is Hound Tour to Emsworthy Mire and back over Holwell Lawn.
More Epic spots include
- Wistman’s Woods
- Okehampton Castle
Day 5 – Plymouth
For a shopping trip, head down to Plymouth’s centre and take a stroll among the many high street shops. The city boasts a variety of museums and shows, so you can easily be entertained for a day.
There are many buses you can catch to head to the country side as well, such as to Wembury Woods and the coast there.
Day 6 – Coastal Walks
There are many Devon attractions in local towns but the coastline is a real stunner. On sunny days out in Devon, try one of the many coastal hikes.
From Kingswear, you can hike all the way to Brixham. Alternatively, Salcome connects all the way to Hope Cove. The English Riviera too has scenic walks, such as around Berry Head. Just pick one of the coastal places to go in Devon. Don’t forget to wear hiking boots, put on sunscreen and pack enough water and snacks.
I find the offline maps on maps.me very helpful in navigating hiking trails. But if you want to have some very extensive trail systems, you should pack a guide with maps for coastal paths in Devon like this one.
Day 7 – Churches
Out of the many South Devon tourist attractions, its historic churches are of major importance. In Buckfast, you can visit Buckfastleigh Abbey, which is active Benedictine monastery that welcomes visitors. It has beautiful grounds, the nearby Holne Woods and close by is an old church ruin, which is beautiful to behold as well.
Another magnificent church is the former Cistercian Buckland Abbey in the East of Dartmoor National Park. There are buses going straight up from Plymouth. Surrounding it s glorious woodland, which is super inviting for a pleasant stroll among the ancient oaks.
There are plenty of smaller, historic churches in Devon worth checking out throughout your trip. Here are a few:
- Bradstone, St Nonna’s Church
- Branscombe, St Winifred’s Church
- Tavistock, Brentor Church
More from the England Blog
- A day trip to the Cotswolds
- The best hotels in Torquay for solo travellers
- The best Dartmoor Cottages
- Hembury Woods near Buckfastleigh