We’ve lived here in Devon for over a year and I’m still bowled over by the beauty of the place. Moving from a fairly nondescript suburban housing development where the view was just more of the same houses to, well, this:
It’s incredible. I’ve spent a great deal of time staring at this view open-mouthed. I still can’t believe we live here.
The great thing about being here in Tiverton, not far from an attraction known as “Devonshire’s Centre”, is that we can travel to either of the coasts in the time it used to take us to get to work on a wet morning. And when the weather’s good and we have the time, we love to get out there and make the most of it. Here are some of my thoughts on our recent visits to just a few of Devon’s fabulous coastal spots.
The North Coast – Lynton and Lynmouth to Barnstaple
The north coast is rugged. Seriously rugged. It’s walking boots and things with “The North Face” stamped all over them, and Real Ale and an excuse to blow a fortune at Millets. As the sign welcoming you to the area will tell you, it’s where Exmoor meets the sea which it does so in an explosion of breathtaking scenery.
Lynton and Lynmouth are villages separated by a gorge. Normal people who visit Lynton at the right time of year would travel between the towns using the clifftop railway. But some people either aren’t that sensible or arrive out of season when the thing is out of commission and find themselves very delicately negotiating the route down on foot and, fuelled perhaps by fish and chips in Lynmouth, charging back up again but pausing every five minutes to beg for oxygen, sherpas and St Bernards bearing brandy.
The rugged landscape continues along to the west of Lynton and emerges several gut-churning miles in Combe Martin. From there it’s just a few minutes along some more impressive scenery to Ilfracombe, one of the larger coastal towns in North Devon. I haven’t really got much to say about Ilfracombe, as it seemed the entire town was closed. Maybe another visit between April and September will see it with more life.
There was certainly no shortage of life in Barnstaple, the next town along, when we visited yesterday. Barnstaple is the shopping destination for North Devon holidaymakers and Michael’s parents certainly seemed to enjoy wandering around its variety of shops with us despite the bitter cold wind.
The South Coast – Exmouth and Sidmouth
The south coast is altogether more tranquil than the rugged North. Although there is no shortage of hills and beautiful scenery anywhere in Devon, the towns along the south coast suggest a more relaxed pace. It’s cream teas and craft fairs and sitting on a bench by the sea and watching the world go by. Exmouth is our most frequent destination along the south coast as it’s only about 20 minutes from Exeter. In comparison to the towns on the north coast, Exmouth was positively buzzing with activity when we visited last Sunday – a car boot sale at the Hall and an Antiques Fair at the Pavilion. A perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Sidmouth is utterly gorgeous in just about every way. It’s the ultimate Devon seaside town. Streets of interesting little shops, cafes and hotels, a sandy beach, and as a backdrop, the magnificent Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. You can be admiring little seaside souvenirs in the shops, and then just up the road be admiring imposing red cliffs and preparing yourself to tackle Jacob’s Ladder.
There is so much of both coasts that we haven’t explored yet – out further west to the north are Croyde, Westward Ho! and Clovelly; and to south further west are Dartmouth, Salcombe, Plymouth and going on into our neighbouring county that we’re really looking forward to exploring at some point – Cornwall.
We we are very lucky to be living in such wonderful surroundings.