Things to do in Devon

Are you planning a visit to Devon this year? If so, once the accommodation is sorted out and you’ve chosen between the amazing holiday parks in Devon, the comfortable B&B’s and guest houses, then you’re probably asking yourself where to go and what to do?

1) Ladram Bay

This private sand washed pebble beach sits along the dramatic red cliffs of the Jurassic Coast in East Devon. The secluded bay makes Ladram Bay a great location for beach relaxation as well as water sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding and motorboats, all of which are available from the kiosk on the beach’s slipway. Visitors to the beach will need to pay £5 to use the Ladram Bay Holiday Park parking however their range of fabulous facilities (including the private beach) will make you want to stay for longer. Those that do stay be sure to check out the indoor swimming pool, play areas, restaurant and crazy golf.

2) Nature watching in Budleigh Salterton


Not for everyone of course, but the East Devon coast attracts a marvellous array of birds including peregrine falcons, cormorants, oystercatchers, herons and egrets, kittiwakes, warblers, buzzards, kingfishers and nightjars. Occasionally rare birds visit the area, including recently, Iceland, Glaucous and American herring gulls. If you want the chance to see otter or even beaver, then take a quiet walk along the River Otter to Ottery St Mary and keep your eyes peeled. Watch out for butterflies and dragonflies too. There are 38-recorded species of butterfly at the Aylesbeare R.S.P.B. Reserve – that’s more than any other reserve in the UK, so it’s well worth a visit.

3) Ottery St Mary Parish Church


Consecrated in 1260, and built in imitation of Exeter Cathedral, the parish church in Ottery St Mary is a beautiful building. Much of the Church was rebuilt by John Grandisson, the Bishop of Exeter (1327–69) after he bought it in 1335 for collegiate use. Of particular interest to visitors is the painted roof and the early sixteenth-century fan vaulted aisle, known as the Dorset Aisle, which was designed and commissioned by Cecily Bonville, the 7th Baroness Harington. In 1850 the building was restored by William Butterfield in order to make it more suitable for the local population of worshippers.

In the south transept you will find the bell tower that is home to the Ottery St Mary Astronomical Clock. This is one of the oldest surviving mechanical clocks in the country and it is of note because it obeys Ptolemaic cosmology – this means it has the Earth at the centre of the solar system rather than the sun.

Also of note are the ten misericords dating from 1350 on the roof, and the two medieval carved stone green men. There is a small stone plaque in situ that commemorates local poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

More information available from http://www.otterystmary.org.uk/

4) Becky Falls in Dartmoor National Park


Take a drive to Dartmoor National Park and visit the spectacular and award winning Becky Falls. The price of entry entitles you to a variety of activities including: hands-on encounters with animals, scavenger hunts, indoor children’s activities, a reptile centre, and of course, stunning walks in the woodland and towards and alongside the waterfall. There are walks that are graded according to ability, so children and the elderly will find something manageable and dogs are made very welcome. After all that activity you can make a welcome stop at the café for hot food and drinks.

Find out more at http://www.beckyfalls.com/

5) The picturesque village of Branscombe


The gorgeous village of Branscombe nestles into the cliffs and hills of the Jurassic Coast (slightly further east of Ladram) and is surrounded by a picturesque and rolling landscape that epitomises England in people’s minds. Branscombe has it all – woodland, farmland, cosy thatched cottages and rocky beach. You can also take time out to visit the working forge (where they still make candles and candelabra), and a restored watermill. Park down next to the beach and then walk up the trail (graded easy) from the beach to the village. On the way you will pass the Manor Mill, the Old Bakery tearooms and the forge. If you wish, you can then walk the adjoining coastal path to Beer – notorious for smuggling – or head eastwards towards the dramatic Jurassic cliffs. Although dogs are not allowed on the beach in the summer, some of the best beer-battered fish and chips in East Devon can be found in the little restaurant on the beach so it’s well worth a visit.

More information available at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/branscombe/

6) The Nissen Hut Heritage Centre, Upottery


Upottery Airfield Heritage Centre, Cherry Hayes Farm, Slough Lane, Smeatharpe EX14 9RD.

If you are interested in history and are looking for something completely different to do, why not arrange a visit to the Nissen Hut Heritage Centre in Upottery near Honiton. The heritage of the Nissen hits has been preserved by the South West Airfields Heritage Trust in order to honour those that served on the airfields in the Blackdown Hills during World War II. For example, 81 aircraft of the 439th TCG carried ‘E’ company (the famous Band of Brothers) of the 505th PIR of the USA. 101st Airborne Division into Normandy on the night of 5th June 1944. This was a pivotal moment in the war.

The buildings are situated on Cherry Hayes Farm, Smeatharpe and remain in the ownership of the Woollacott family. Renovation of the buildings was completed in 2013. Following negotiation with the current owners the exterior renovation was funded partly by an Environment Sensitive Area Scheme that aimed to preserve the operational significance of the military operations of WWII, in order to create an historical archive centre for the South West Airfields Heritage Trust on an agreed twenty-five year lease.

You can arrange a guided tour of the private airfield site by contacting robin273@btinternet.com and agreeing to make a donation to the trust. Visit http://www.southwestairfields.co.uk/ to find more information.