Best time to visit Devon

Devon delights throughout the year so grab the dog, the kids and the wellies, and explore from Exeter to Exmoor with a whole lot of star-filled nights and long summer days in between.
Foodies flock to Exeter’s festival in April just as readily as wildfowl flood the Exe Estuaries over autumn, with Westward Ho! and Broadsands beaches swathed in sandcastles for practically the entire summer. The best time to visit Devon depends on how clean you like your clobber, as muddy winter walks prior to a pint and log fire can be as enjoyable as sand between your toes. In Jul-Aug, swallows, house martins and swifts arrive along with coastal crowds that clog up the high streets so opt for May or Sep for a quieter break. Lapstock Festival in late July is lots of fun and very colourful, with a laid back atmosphere.

Devon Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
3
9
122
FEB
2
9
90
MAR
3
11
80
APR
4
13
62
MAY
7
16
65
JUN
10
19
58
JUL
12
21
55
AUG
12
21
70
SEP
10
19
78
OCT
8
15
92
NOV
5
11
98
DEC
3
9
120

Things to do in Devon...

Variety sums up why Devon is one of England’s finest counties for walking, with the Tarka Trail, Granite Way and South West Coast Path delivering Devonshire’s range of landscapes at their very best. From accessible pushchair and wheelchair routes along abandoned railway lines, to dense woodland and river valleys like Watersmeet and Lydford Gorge, where waterfalls and wildlife flourish, there’s so much scope for walking in Devon. Just make sure you pack for all seasons. Cycling in Devon is almost as natural as scones and tea which is why there are numerous cycle hire companies set up at the start of trails to tempt even the most reticent of pedal pushers into the saddle. Coast to coast from Ilfracombe to Plymouth; the challenging Dartmoor Way; the flat 8km nature reserve trail along the River Exe; a 12km countryside from Bampton to Tiverton; whatever your preferred pace, cycling in Devon shouldn’t be serious, unless you want it to be, of course. You’ll never forget the first time you saw the Milky Way in the sky rather than a confectionary aisle and as Devon boasts Britain’s darkest skies, free from light pollution, evenings outdoors are about as good as it gets for amateur astronomers. Exmoor National Park, especially, really captures the constellations although, on a clear autumnal night, you’ll be hard pushed not to find yourself watching the skies, if not for the stars, then for the bats and barn owls.

Things not to do in Devon…

Devon’s cities, Exeter, Torquay and Plymouth, all feature their fair share of attractions too but book a city hotel and you’ll kind of be missing the point when it comes to the real essence of visiting Devon. Do yourself a favour and stay in a small, independently-owned B&B in Dartmoor, or sustainable self catering eco lodges where silence prevails apart from distant muffled laughter from the local village pub and the occasional screech of foxes. A trip to the supermarket for a ‘big shop’ can really help out when self catering with the kids; however, don’t miss out on the local butcher, baker and pasty maker. Farm shops and local wine merchants are widely available and there’s no better way to discover local life than by hanging out in the village store where all manner of tasty tidbits can be bought, and heard, if the wind’s in the right direction. Children love Devon just as much as adults like watching them be kids again as from woodland walks and pond dipping to rock pooling and paddling in the sea, there’s nothing like Devon to help them forget the iPad. However, don’t think Devon is just for families; if you’re visiting free from the shackles of offspring then you might well find yourself regressing all the same with days exploring by bike or jumping in muddy puddles, great fun no matter what age you are.

DEVON TRAVEL ADVICE

Ian Ripper, owner of our supplier Wheatland Farm Eco Lodges in Devon, shares a few of his Devonshire delights:

Pop in for a pint

“Devon has some great pubs, like the Duke of York at Iddesleigh (the drinking hole of Michael Morpurgo) a real classic country pub with good cask ales and a good restaurant but not flashy. The sort of place you have to take an American tourist. I’d also recommend the New Inn at Roborough (great atmosphere and food) and the George Inn at Braunton – just right after a day on the beach.”

Outdoor adventures

“We just love Dartmoor as it is one of the few places where you can free camp in England. Just pack a tent or bivvy bag and head out onto the moors - you can camp anywhere and you won't see a single person. No fences, no barriers, just you and a compass and OS map (mobile coverage poor). Coasteering is also a blast and available on both north and south coasts. It is a really top day out for all ages and gets you to places you wouldn’t normally reach.”

Short walks

“Our favourite short walks are the one in Heywood for the giant Scots pine that warms your soul and the one at Belstone Cleave which runs down the River Taw from Belstone on the edge of Dartmoor to the village of Sticklepath. Lovely old woodlands, clear streams and a swimming spot for the brave. Sticklepath also has a waterwheel-driven forge, Finch Foundry. It’s very interesting with daily demos of the hammer working iron and some colourful local history too.”

Advice for families

“There are some good local visitor attractions that work really well. Not the big and slick theme parks of the southeast, but ones that have grown from farms into great places to enjoy a day out. The BIG Sheep is fun for all the family, including dads, with the microbrewery onsite. I’d also recommend Pennywell Farm in Buckfastleigh – winners of quite a few tourism awards.”

Our top Devon Holiday

Devon eco lodge accommodation, England

Devon eco lodge accommodation, England

Quirky eco lodges, 1 with Hot Tub, on a Devon nature reserve

From £205 to £810 per accommodation per week
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If you'd like to chat about Devon or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

DEVON TRAVEL ADVICE

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Devon travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday – and the space inside your suitcase.
Although the Tarka Trail was nice, we found it more interesting just cycling around, passing through lovely villages as there is lots to see.
– Jane Huddlestone
“A rental car is ideally required to make the most of the local countryside sights, but the farm shop 10mins walk away is nice and the food all locally grown.” – Glyn Kirpalani

“It really isn't that hard to get the train there. Honest. The year before we drove to Devon and it took 12 hours to return to Leeds which is just super stressful. This year the train took 6 hours. No problem. Buses, bikes and feet are the way forward on this holiday. Devon is very green, warm and beautiful.” – Kath Cox

“Don't come with preconceptions; let the peacefulness of the place slow you down. Bring wellies and a torch. The local dog walks are great. RHS Rosemoor is well worth a visit, as is Great Torrington. Eat at the ‘Tally Ho!’ in Hatherleigh.” – Sue Stanwell

“Bring lots of old clothes for the children; it takes time to get places by car as the roads are smaller; the train service from Eggsford is great - we used it to get to the coast and we loved Dawlish Warren – lovely beach and a nature reserve (really reasonable with a family railcard). Take a torch for walking back from the pub at night and star watching.” – Heather Mcadam
The local dog walks are great. RHS Rosemoor is well worth a visit, as is Great Torrington. Eat at the 'Tally Ho!' in Hatherleigh.
– Sue Stanwell
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: jb_pics] [Intro: Christopher TD] [Things to do in Devon...: Takver] [Ian Ripper advice: Nilfanion] [Jane Huddlestone advice: Sam Healey] [Sue Stanwell advice: Humphrey Bolton]
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