Devon is one of my favourite regions in England. There are so many gorgeous places all over the country but there’s just something about the quaint small towns, gorgeous beaches, historic sites and deep, untouched woodlands, especially during British bluebell season in late spring. If you want to enjoy a week here, I’ve got the ideal itinerary for 7 days in West Devon for you.
If you have any questions or suggestions of your own, feel free to leave me a comment below the post.
The article is also available in German.
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This route is intended for driving. If you want to do it with public transport, it would all be much more stressful and harder to navigate and require more time for bus jumping and transgers.
If you’d rather book a guided tour, here’s an example of a 5-day trip to Devon and Cornwall* from London. Then you don’t have to plan anything.
Day 1-3: Woolacombe
First, we went by car directly from London to the beach town of Woolacombe, which took about five hours. Here we stayed in the vacation village Woolacombe Bay Holdiay Park, which I can only recommend.
The caravans were more like bungalows than caravans and really modern equipped, including kitchen, several bedrooms and TV corner.
Small tip: You have to bring a lot of things yourself. I recommend: Spices (including salt and pepper), tea, water (the tap water did not taste good), towels, extra toilet paper, soap and shower stuff.
The Holiday Park was perfect for families or dog owners, but you had to go quite a way down the hill and meadows to get to town and Woolacombe beach. If you want hotels right on site or are traveling alone (such a caravan is quite large), take a look here*.
Travel tip: Booking often allows you to cancel or change travel dates up to 24 hours in advance. I always find this handy to reserve an accommodation first and possibly extend a few days later, if something changes with the vacation time. Check current availabilities for Woolacombe stays here*.
Beach walk: Woolacombe to Baggy Point, Croyde and Saunton Sands
No sooner had we looked around and put all our stuff down than we were off down to Woolacomber beach as the first stop on our North Devon round trip. This is one of the not so common sandy beaches in England and one of the most beautiful.
Even if the weather closes in and the wind rages, you still have a great view, especially because of the imposing rock cliffs at the edge of the beach.
I recommend spending at least two days in Woolacombe.
(Or even more if you want to be on the safe side, since you never know with the weather on the coast).
On the first day you can walk from Woolacombe Bay to Baggy Point, a beautiful headland. For this you can leave your car. (Devon should also be explored a lot on foot, I think).
The beach itself is 3 km long and you can walk it quite relaxed towards Putsborough. At the end of the beach you can walk up to the parking lot and to a small beach cafe.
There I ate a soup and a filled dumpling, which I can recommend. Also, there are souvenirs here if you still need some.
We continued following the signs with the acorn symbol to Baggy Point. This takes a good hour and a half, depending on how often you stop and enjoy the view. (I always take lots of pictures, of course).
From there you can take a loop back or down to Croyde Beach (30 minutes) or Saunton Sands (over an 1 hour).
Beach walk: Woolacombe to Ilfracombe
Another great walk along the coast is from Woolacombe to Ilfracombe via Mortehoe and Lee Bay. This takes over three hours, but for me it took nine hours because I stopped so often and also took enjoyable breathers.
Good to know: it’s best to save cab numbers from places locally so you don’t get stuck when suddenly there’s no bus. In Ilfracombe there were only two cabs and we had to wait a while until one was free, even though there were no vacations.
Woolacombe is certainly extremely popular in the summer. Therefore there are several parking lots along the coast.
- The Esplanade Car Park
- Sandy Burrows Car Park
- Along Marine Drive towards The Porthole
There are several public and free toilets near Woolacombe beach. If you’re coming from the town center, there are some at the traffic circle. They weren’t that great. Soap was lacking.
A little further down the road across from Sandy Burrows Car Park and by the Woolacombe Beach Shop are more, much nicer, restrooms.
If you’re interested in how to pronounce Woolacombe (I didn’t know for sure myself before my trip): it sounds like wool-uh-comb.
Devon, by the way, is pronounced like the-vn [ˈdɛvn̩].
Day 4: Clovelly
One of the absolute most beautiful villages in England is Clovelly. You may know it from the movie “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” which was filmed here. To enter it, you have to pay an entrance fee, which was 8.5 GBP (about 10.3 USD/9.61 EUR) on my last visit, but is totally worth it. (You can pay by credit card).
The village is like a living museum where you can stroll through beautiful streets, shop in cute stores, and visit some of the historic rooms.
Good shoes are an advantage here, as the cobblestones and the extreme slope due to the hillside is otherwise really a challenge.
I actually thought that a visit is over quite quickly, since Devon’s Clovelly is quite small. But then my visit lasted several hours. No wonder people stay in Clovelly overnight (check availability here – a popular hotel is the Red Lion*).
First of all, petting the donkeys, then browsing all the stores, looking around the museum and talking to the locals, then off to the harbor and over the bumpy rocky beach to the Clovelly waterfall and up to the terrace for a proper cream tea with sea view… That takes time.
Such a trip to Clovelly is something for connoisseurs and culture lovers.
Afterwards I advise you to walk further along the coast to Mouthmill Beach. Here, too, the paths are quite steep, so don’t trust the walking time given on Google. You’ll have to catch your breath a few times.
The beach itself isn’t particularly impressive in itself, but it does have a stone gateway, Blackchurch Rock, which is probably quite well exposed at low tide. So look in advance for tide times.
There’s also a ruin of a former kiln for limestone processing here, made possible by ships from Wales.
Settle in on the terrace of the Cottage Tea Room Clovelly overlooking Bideford Bay and order a classic tea with scones and clotted cream and jam (“cream tea with clotted cream and jam”).
You can also order cucumber sandwiches to go with it if you’re hungry.
Cream tea is a must in Devon! If you like it really sweet, go for the local version.
- Address: 74 High St, Clovelly, Bideford EX39 5TQ, United Kingdom
Try not to take a detour along a private path. This is not welcome in Devon and you can get into trouble if the owner runs into you. Just follow the signs with the acorn symbol.
There is a large official parking lot directly in front of the entrance area. Parking is included in the admission ticket.
You can pronounce Clovelly like Clo (like in clover) and welly (like in Wellington).
Restrooms are located after the entrance area just inside the information center.
Your admission ticket is valid for several days as long as you still wear your wristband. Therefore, even after your visit, for example after you have done the hike, you can go to the toilet again.
Day 5: Valley of the Rocks, Lynton and Combe Martin
Really rewarding is the rocky coastline of the Valley of the Rocks. Even though you’re only a few miles down the coast, it almost feels like a small mountain range and a completely different environment here.
You don’t even have to be really into hiking to enjoy the views here. The path from the parking lot leads directly to the coast, which is surrounded by the rocky mountains.
Here you can walk further up and steeply along the coast or just take the easier trails through the fields to Lee Abbey. Be sure to walk past the abbey as you will see charming houses that look like something out of a movie.
A small path leads down past the public restrooms to Lee Bay and the rocky beach. It says it’s private, but it still seemed free to walk on. But you have to decide that for yourself.
Of course, good shoes are a must here as well. And a windproof jacket is also quite helpful because there can be a stiff breeze here.
Parking & toilet tips:
There is a smaller parking lot still in front of the entrance area. Two hours costs 3.30 GBP. The machine only accepts coins.
A little further past the entrance gate is more parking as well as public restrooms, which were very clean and free.
More public toilets are at the other end of the path to Lee Abbey, where there is also a small parking lot.
How is Lynton pronounced? Quite simply as Lint-in.
Combe Martin is pronounced like Comb Mar-tin.
Day 6: Appledore, Westward Ho!
After you’ve been on the road so much the last few days, you can take it down a notch. It’s worth to have a look at some smaller villages in Devon.
On your route through Devon by car and the already mentioned places you actually already pass some nice places.
One of them is Appledore. The small harbor town has typical English white houses along small streets with great shops and delicious restaurants.
By the way, from Appledore you can also take the Lundy Ferry (as well as from Ilfracombe) for an extra day trip.
I highly recommend The Yard restaurant in Appledore. What extremely delicious and beautifully presented food there was!
I had a Mac’n’The Yard with strong, local cheese (no cheap Yank cheese for the Mac n Cheese) and my friend had Thai meat balls and manchego fries (actual fried cheese, not fries with cheese). And we kept eyeing the other tables who kept ordering more because it was all so good.
Here’s the menu.
Address: The Yard, 5 Market Street, Appledore EX39 1PW England.
There is a public parking lot right by the harbor. However, we parked across the street from the North Devon Maritime Museum. (Be aware that some parking is private).
Appledore Car Park
Odun Road Car Park
How is Appledore pronounced? Kind of like apple and door.
Day 7: Exmoor National Park
At the end of your Devon trip you can’t miss Exmoor National Park on the way back to London. It is also on the way back to London and deserves its own trip.
Maybe on your next itinerary through Devon’s North.
What makes Exmoor so special? It’s one of a total of 15 national parks in the UK and popular for its coastal location, heathland fields and wild deer and ponies, like those found on Dartmoor.
Combe Martin, Lynton, and the Valley of the Rocks are already part of Exmoor, but since it has a total of 692 square kilometers of land and 1046 kilometers (650 miles) of footpaths and bridleways, you know there’s a lot to explore here.
By the way, Exmoor National Park is larger than Dartmoor. Dartmoor is further south and has “only” 954 km² of area and 644km (400 miles) of footpaths and bridleways.
Here is a short overview of the most beautiful attractions in Exmoor:
- The View, Lee Abbey and Mountain Goats of the Valley of the Rocks
- The Dunstar Castle
- The historic bridge Tarr Steps
- Local delicacies at the Tarr Farm Inn
- The scenic 21 Mile Drive car route
- The longest historic railroad line in England of the West Somerset Railway
- Seal show on Lundy Island
If you’ve been on any of these or have any others to suggest, feel free to let me know in the comments.
And that was my (not-so-brief, but hopefully informative) overview of a 7-day itinerary through North Devon. Of course, there’s far more to visit, but that requires another blog article.