When searching for things to do outdoors in Devon, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Devon is known for its beautiful beaches, so a trip to the seaside is a must. If you’re not an ocean baby then there are plenty of other things to do too, like cycling down country lanes or embarking on a treasure trail. Here are some ideas to get you started.
A unique way of exploring the outdoors is by taking on a trail. This is a self-guided themed walk where you admire the sights and wonder of Devon. There are so many different trails in Devon to choose from that we have carefully constructed. From the seaside towns of Lyme Regis and Exmouth, to the wide, open moorlands of Dartmoor, there is so much adventure waiting to be had.
Devon has it all when it comes to beaches. Whether it’s a shingle or sandy beach, or surrounded by cliffs or dunes, Devon has some of the best beaches in the UK. Woolacombe Beach is a family favourite with its three miles of golden sands. Relax by the beach huts and enjoy a BBQ or picnic on the sand. Other great family beaches that boast picturesque views and food and drink options nearby are Bantham Beach, Jacob’s Ladder Beach and Budleigh Salterton Beach. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, Anstey’s Cove is a quaint little beach with calm waters perfect for swimming. Blackpool Sands is another must-visit. 15 minutes away from Dartmouth, this beach is surrounded by woodland and creates a unique mix of countryside and coast.
If you can’t resist getting into the water, have a go at watersports. Devon is home to some of the best surf in the UK, and there are waves here for every level. Some of the best surfing beaches are Saunton Sands, Bantham and Woolacombe. You’ll find plenty of surf schools around Devon where you can also rent a surfboard and wetsuit. If it’s sailing you’re after, visit Torquay, Dartmouth and Plymouth. There are some great sailing schools here which run a range of courses with instructors. Kayaking and canoeing is also very popular, with the best spots being Lee Bay, Daymer Bay, Carbis Bay, Looe Beach, Lopwell Dam and St Ives.
Devon is the ideal place for walking and the many routes and tracks boast spectacular views of the coast and countryside. A must-visit is, of course, the Dartmoor National Park. The wild and rugged landscape has captivated people for hundreds of years. With heather moorlands, granite tors and rolling valleys, there are tons of walks to do in the area. Devon is also home to the South West Coast Path. Stretching for 630 miles, the path goes through Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. Some of the best walks that are part of this long-distance trail are the Branscombe to Beer route and the Elberry, Churston and Fishcombe route, which are guaranteed to serve stunning coastal views. Devon is filled with picturesque villages, and the best way to see them is via the Dart Valley Trail which covers 16 miles from Totnes to Dartmouth and the Kingswear Peninsula. On the way, make sure to stop off at Agatha Christie’s former holiday home, Greenway Estate.
As well as walking, Devon is a cyclist’s paradise. Whatever you’re in the mood for, whether it’s coast or country, moorland or canal, there’s a wealth of cycle routes for the whole family to enjoy. The Exe Estuary Trail is a 26 mile route running around the entire Exe Estuary. As an SSSI, you’ll see tons of wildlife as well as beautiful riverside towns and villages. Another great route is Drake’s Trail. Running for 21 miles between Tavistock and Plymouth, the route includes the Plym Valley Trail. Cycle through wooded valleys and open moorland, past iconic features such as Gem Bridge and Grenofen Tunnel. A much shorter trail is the East Prawle Cycling Route. This 12 mile circular journey makes its way along quiet country lanes in South Devon. If you don’t have your own bike, don’t worry – there are plenty of places to hire bikes and equipment locally.
Horse riding is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Devon. With sandy beaches, pretty bridleways and two National Parks, it’s a great place to saddle up. Dartmoor is one of the best places in Devon to ride. If you’re a beginner, head to the South-East part where there are gentle slopes and easy rides. For more experienced riders, the South-West and Northern half of Dartmoor boast rugged wilderness and more challenging rides. Exmoor National Park also has some fantastic bridleways that you can take to explore the woodland, moors and open fields. If you head to the Blackdown Hills AONB you’ll find several circular routes that pass through some breathtaking scenery. If you’ve never ridden a horse before, there are many experienced tutors to help you get started!
Devon has a wealth of choices when it comes to gardens. Many of the gardens have children’s play areas and garden centres, making it a place for fun and relaxation for the whole family. As well as Exmoor National Park and Dartmoor National Park, there are also decorative gardens in most of Devon’s towns and villages. RHS Garden Rosemoor is a great place to see unique plants, flowers and a heritage apple orchard. Burrow Farm Gardens is another beautiful spot stretched over 13 acres. There are different themed areas with quaint decorations. Make sure to stop by Bicton Park Botanical Gardens which spans nearly 300 years of gardening history and showcases rare plants from around the world.