Exploring the secret spots of South Devon
Words: Lucy Connors
While it’s no secret that the Southwest of England is a treasure trove of beauty spots, there are some that have been kept tucked away better than others. We’re going to take you into South Devon to some of our favourite, more elusive spots, so you can explore with the smug knowledge that you’re privately in the know. Whether you’re looking for inland exploration and invigorating adventures, or seaside spots and idyllic relaxation, we’ve got you covered.
Dartmoor National Park is the perfect starting point for innumerable adventures. Haytor Rocks are situated on the edge of the park and provide a focal point for any of the walks that surround it. This is one of our favourite spots, not just for the beauty of the moor and the unique appearance of the tor, but because it is a climber’s favourite, with brilliant natural bouldering routes up its many faces, and a panoramic view over the South Coast. For a versatile and unique experience within protected and untouched natural wilderness, take the trip out here, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the wild ponies that inhabit the moor.
Wild Ponies on Dartmoor National Park
Haldon Forest Park is another perfect destination for some more active exploring. The 3500-acre forest is easily accessible from Exeter, and offers miles of trails for walking, running, and mountain biking. It’s well-maintained making navigation easy, and offers stunning vista across the expansive countryside, as well as the sublimity of exploring underneath the trees themselves.
If you’re looking for an organised jaunt, Endurance Life offer organised trail races along coastal paths around England, and their South Devon one specifically has become a cult classic due to the route around Beesands offering awe inspiring scenery as a backdrop to its punishing inclines.
Continuing our journey along the Jurassic coast, combine the two picturesque seafront towns of Beer and Branscombe with one, six-mile, headland walk. The stunning route along the Southwest Coastal Path provides clifftop panoramas, green fields, and shingled beaches. While the elevation required to reach the views will certainly feel invigorating, rest assured that the beaches you’ll meet at the end, or stumble across on the way, provide a perfect spot to swim, or simply just to bask in the sun. Beer and Branscombe both perfectly encompass the British seaside idyll.
The South Devon Coastline
Another of our favourite alternative spots is Shaldon. Accessible through an original smugglers’ tunnel, the dark descent to Ness Cove beach opens out onto idyllic sands and feels truly untouched. The village itself is quaint and quiet, perfect for a relaxing visit and a leisurely meander around its independent shops.
One more wild destination that is largely shared through whispers and word of mouth is Spitchwick. Spitchwick is situated on a bend of the River Dart and its blissful expanse offers something to keep everyone happy: a large grassy sun trap perfect for picnics, calm water that truly invites wild swimming, and even cliff jumping for the braver ones among us.
Everybody knows Salcombe, but just half an hour away is Bigbury-On-Sea. Boasting the largest sandy beach in South Devon, this lesser-known village is picture perfect. Take the sea tractor out to Burgh Island – or even walk if the tide is out – and stop at The Pilchard Inn. This old smuggler’s haunt offers a real cosy respite, stunning views, and gorgeous seasonal food, and we would highly recommend it.