Spring and early summer are among the best times to tour Devon and Cornwall, allowing you to avoid the crowds of high summer while, with luck, enjoying blue skies and warm weather. Travel on the Atlantic Highway, named one of the best UK road trips, taking you on a journey down the North coasts of Devon and Cornwall before crossing over to the South Coast and finishing in the stunning port town of Falmouth. Alternatively, head inland to the rugged beauty of the moors. Whichever direction you travel, there is an abundance of places to see and things to do.
Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor are all great for blowing away the cobwebs, with each bursting into life in the spring. There is an abundance of wildlife to spot including hares, wild ponies, birds of prey, kingfishers, otters, rare butterflies, and even the charismatic cuckoo, to mention but a few. There are many guided walks, festivals and adventure days to experience, or you can park up and explore for yourself.
Stately homes, Castles and Gardens
Visit a trinity of glorious Castles in the Mid Devon region: Castle Drogo, the last castle built in the UK; Powderham Castle, owned by the Courtenay family since the 1300s; Okehampton Castle, where “Wicked” Lady Howard is alleged to have murdered four of her husbands and built a carriage from their bones. Meanwhile, in Cornwall, you can explore legendary Tintagel Castle with its long association with Arthurian legend, beautiful Lanhydrock House with its magnificent 17th-century plaster ceiling, and The Eden Project containing the world’s largest rainforest in captivity. For those of a botanical inclination, The Lost Gardens of Heligan are magical. Rediscovered by Tim Smit, this is an astonishing recovery of a full-blown Victorian country house garden. Of course, this list is not exhaustive, comprising just a small subsection of the great many idyllic attractions housed by the two counties.
Zoos, farms, and aquaria
Paignton Zoo is one of Britain's top zoos, home to some of the planet's rarest and most amazing creatures, with over 2000 animals, six different habitats, and the Jungle Express train. Newquay Zoo houses a comparable variety of unusual species, while also containing a village farm with more traditional farm faces plus Toad Hall highlighting the threats to amphibians around the world. Paradise Park is a wildlife sanctuary situated in Hayle, Cornwall. It has over 650 birds and animals and is the home of the World Parrot Trust. As well as more than 100 species of parrot housed in large aviaries in a sub-tropical garden, there are endangered red pandas, penguins and otters. Pennywell Farm is a multi-award winner and is the largest farm attraction in the South West. There are many different activities, shows or displays every half hour and four farm rides included in the admission price. Plymouth Aquarium is the largest public aquarium in the UK, containing sharks, seahorses, jellyfish, turtles, as well as touch pools where you can get close to lots of smaller creatures.
Devon and Cornwall have hundreds of beautiful beaches and picturesque seaside towns, namely Brixham, Salcombe, Ilfracombe, Woolacombe, Bude, Trebarwith and Newquay to skim the surface. If you take a route along either coast you will happen upon somewhere stunning to stop, explore, and walk on the beach.
There are many beautiful places in the UK but few where you don’t need to plan a route or know precisely the path you will take. Devon and Cornwall are full of amazing scenery and fantastic places to visit whatever path you choose, and whichever direction you go in you will find something worth a visit. We have mentioned a few of our favourite places here but have barely scratched the surface. Remember to pull in at a farm shop to sample the delights there. Try some traditional ice cream and enjoy a delicious cream tea.