National Park & trusts, pristine beaches, lots to do, gorgeous towns & villages.
DARTMOOR & SOUTH DEVON
Rugged, beautiful, full of open spaces,
beaches, neat towns and Torquay.
On the doorstep is Dartmoor, with all the walking, stone relics, valleys, wildlife, waterfalls and flora you could wish for. Close by is Burgh Island, Bantham, Blackpool Sands beaches; Torquay, Plymouth, Exeter, Salcombe and Dartmouth. Go Ape, cycling, hiking, fishing, boat rides, loads of pubs and restaurants are also within a short drive.
Dartmoor & local beaches
Exploring Dartmoor can be invigorating and fascinating, you may find a hut circle, a medieval longhouse, or come across an ancient wooded valley. Local beaches, both pebble and sand, calm and surfable, can be found in close proximity to Stickwick. Try Blackpool Sands, Bantham, rustic Wembury and the town beaches of Teignmouth, Torquay, Dawlish and Paignton.
Places to visit
The impressive Canonteign Falls, Burgh Island (a favourite of Agatha Christie, with hydraulic sea tractor), stream trains, mills, castles, country houses, Hallsands coastal walks, crabbing spots, and numerous National Trusts places, all within an hours drive.
How about Babbacombe Cliff Railway, Botanical Gardens, Cathedrals, churches, Plymouth Gin, Becky Falls (a little smaller version of Canonteign Falls), lakes, reservoirs, Abbeys, model villages (if that is your thing), nature reserves, Donkey Sanctury, caverns and caves, again, all within twenty miles.
Things to do
Stickwick is on the edge of Dartmoor, so the obvious activities are hiking and cycling – traipsing or riding through the moors is invigorating and can lead to unexpected discoveries. There are several bike hire outfits around the edge of Dartmoor.
Go Ape, a short drive north at Haldon Forest, is great for a tree-top adventure (be warned it can get your heart pumping), a walk (great views) or for the connected mountain bike trails.
Kids can get hands on at Pennywell farm, where a tractor ride, llama walk and piggy cuddle awaits.
Fishing and crabbing can be had all along the coast. River kayaking, paddle boarding and wild swimming is available in Dartmoor and along waterways. Surfing (lessons are available) and body boarding can be found at most west-facing beaches. Golf and pitch and putt courses are everywhere, catering for the beginner (that’s me) to the scratch players.
Towns & cities
Traditional seaside towns run from the mouth of the river Exe to the tip of south Devon. Dawlish is the northern-most of the towns, famous (I’ve seen them) for the roaming black swans, a nature reserve and spotless beaches. Bang on the middle of the English Riviera, sits Torquay, the jewel of South Devon. Torquay has lots of seaside attractions and other cultural highlights.
Newton Abbot &
Newton Abbot is a historic market town with an outdoor market and indoor panier market. The mid-point between Dartmoor and the seaside towns. Totnes is as close as Devon gets to a hippy commune (that’s a good thing), it is seriously laid back. You can find independent shops and restaurants, alternative therapies, diverse communities and a relaxed atmosphere.
What pretty places. Dartmouth at mouth of the River Dart with 50-plus miles of meandering river, has great restaurants and fabulous shopping streets. Salcombe is a sailing town, home to seven sandy beaches (including Sunny Cover and Stink Cove (it doesn’t smell) and on a good day has turquoise water. Great for sandcastles and a swim.
Plymouth, gets an undeserved bad rep, it is a beautiful place. Set on a bluff above the harbour, the ocean views (across Plymouth Sound) are magnificent, the old streets have charm, the architecture ranges from the medieval to the Georgian to modern monstrosities (although The Box’s revolving exhibitions are great). The waterfront, including the Victorian Tinside Lido, Mayflower Steps and Hoe Gardens is a spectacular place to wander around.
Exeter was around well before the Romans landed in Britain. It is old. Many historical sites abound, Roman Wall, Cathedral, Underground Passages and more. For shopping, take a stroll down Gandy Street, the town centre has all the standard stores. Check out the Quayside, gorgeous in the summer, lots of water sports, mountain climbing, multiple waterfront restaurants and bars.
Seaside fishing villages are relaxed, slow-paced and individual places to explore. Try Hope Cove (close to Salcombe) with a breakpoint slung between two rocky outcrops, allowing choppy waves and calm water. South Pool (again, close to Salcombe) is more hamlet than village. Boasting excellent crabbing from a pontoon that juts into the crystal clear estuary. Also try Budleigh Salterton, Brixham and Noss Mayo for that authentic fish and chips.
in Devon and Cornwall
Up, down, east and west, there is a plethora of National
Trust places and activities. Castles, glass blowing, metal works, mills, areas of stunning beauty or rugged, but unique and dramatic countryside, bridges, country houses and plain weird old buildings, they all here. My fave – Castle Drogo – on our doorstep, with amazing walks and views.
The Palk Arms, in Hennock, is the closest pub – 12 mins walk (children and dogs welcome). Bovey Tracey, two miles away, has The Bell Inn, Dolphin, Cromwell Arms and a number of great takeaways and cafes. Chudleigh Knighton (2 miles) also offers the comfortable locals pub the Claycutters Arms with play area and large outdoor eating space. The stunning Teign Valley offers a range of eateries and restaurants from Manor Inn, Phoenix, Nobody Inn and Cridford Inn.
Stickwick Manor & Cottages
Stickwick Farm, Hennock, Bovey Tracey, Devon, TQ13 9PR