DEVONDevon Crestounty of Southwest England also known as Devonshire, which has contained the unitary authorities Plymouth and Torbay since April 1998. First recorded in 851 as Dev Fenascir meaning The district of the tribe of Dumnonii.

Local LinksDevon County Council - Mid Devon District Council - North Devon District Council - Exeter City Council - Plymouth City Council - Torbay Borough Council

owns and cities

Town Cryer

Exeter, like many towns and cities in the UK, retains the services of a Town Cryer, although now more as a tourist attraction.

Gull at SalcombeExeter (administrative headquarters); Plymouth. Resorts: Barnstaple, Bideford, Exmouth, Ilfracombe, Sidmouth, Teignmouth, and Tiverton

Exeter - City located on the River Exe, founded by the Romans as Isca Dumnoniorum and later became the Anglo-Saxon settlement Escancestre. It has medieval, Georgian, and Regency architecture.
Principal industries are brewing, iron and brass founding, light engineering, printing, financial services, and tourism. Other industries include the manufacture of agricultural machinery, textiles, and leather goods.

Kingsbridge Estuary at SunriseA cathedral was first established at Exeter in 1050 when Edward the Confessor enthroned the city's first bishop ensuring that the church built in 1019 by King Canute changed to cathedral status. The Normans rebuilt it between 1107 and 1137. The present cathedral is mainly in the Decorated style, but includes two Norman towers; it has a 14th-century west front with many sculptured figures, and its fine ceiling is the longest stretch of Gothic vaulting in the world. The Cathedral Library contains the Exeter Book, a collection of Anglo-Saxon poetry. It also includes the Exeter Domesday Book, the episcopal and chapter archives, and many city archives along with a magnificent clock. Cathedral Close has buildings dating from medieval to Georgian times, including the Elizabethan Mol's Coffee House built in 1596. The Guildhall (1330) is one of the oldest surviving civic buildings in England; it has a portico dating from about 1595, and its hall has a fine 15th-century roof. Sections of the Roman and medieval walls survive, and there are some remains of Rougemont Castle. Other features include part of the Benedictine Priory of St Nicholas, the Custom House (1681), and the Maritime Museum at the Quay which is home to 'Bertha', the oldest working steamship in the world - designed by Brunel. The Royal Albert Memorial Museum includes collections illustrating zoology and local archaeology. The city suffered severe damage during World War II air raids. Exeter University was established in 1955

rea 6,720 sq. km / 2,594 sq. miles
opulation 1,058,800 (1995)

Lundy Island

Back to top Devon is bounded by the Bristol Channel on the north; by Cornwall on the west; by the English Channel on the south; and by Dorset and Somerset on the east.

The surface of Devon is hilly, with the rolling uplands of Dartmoor, and its numerous rugged tors, in the Southwest. On the lower slopes of hills the soil is fertile, especially in the lower Exe valley, which has orchards and market gardens. Castle RockThe northern coast is very rugged, with cliffs 122-152 m / 400-500 ft high, rising to Castle Rock just West of Lynton, at 800 ft, one of the highest sea cliffs in Britain. There are also rocky inlets, the largest of which is Bideford Bay. On the southern coast are the headlands Bolt Tail and Start Point, and the harbours Tor Bay and Plymouth Sound, one of the best harbours in Britain. 

Highest point: High Willhays at 2,039 feet.
Devon has more rivers than most counties including the Plym, Lyd, Tavy (‘the little water’). Bovey, Dart, Avon, Teign, Exe, Taw, Tamar (‘the greater water’ bordering with Cornwall), Yealm.

ommerce Agriculture: sheep and dairy farming, beef cattle; cider and clotted cream; fishing

Industries: kaolin in the south; lace (at Honiton); Dartington glass; carpets (Axminster); quarrying (granite, limestone, sandstone); minerals (copper, iron, lead, manganese); tourism

amous people KingswearSt Boniface (Anglo -Saxon missionary to Germany); Henry de Bracton (writer on English law); John Davis and Humphrey Gilbert (explorers); Sir Francis Drake; Richard Grenville (adventurer); Charles Kingsley; Thomas Newcomen (inventor); Sir Walter Raleigh; Joshua Reynolds; Joanna Southcott (religious fanatic); Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The navigator John Hawkins and the painter John Northcote were born in Plymouth in 1532 and 1746 respectively. Robert Falcon Scott (Scott of the Antarctic) was born in Devonport in 1868.

Devils Slide - Lundy

Devils Slide - Lundy Island

Tiverton Castle


Back to top Devon has two National Parks : Dartmoor and part of Exmoor. The county has a lush patchwork of fields threaded with narrow country lanes which typifies pastoral England more than probably any other county. To the north the county has a rugged dramatic coastline of towering cliffs and to the south, a mass of wondrous meandering sea inlets and picturesque estuaries. Central Devon is essentially a land of small farmers where English traditions remain in abundance. Roughly 30 per cent of Devon's visitors head to Torbay, the area known as the English Riviera. The seaside towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham offer many attractions but the rest of Devon has many other fine things to see and do.

There are numerous villages including those around Buckland-in-the-Moor which are renowned for wonderful clusters of thatched cottages. Clovelly is very picturesque, although you now have to pay to walk the steep cobbled streets down to the picturesque harbour.

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BeerBeerThe Fat Badgers guide wouldn't be complete without mention of Beer. The village of Beer was home to Jack Rattenbury - one of Devons most famous smugglers. The village is picturesque with a stream running down the main street towards the shingle beach where fishing boats are pulled out of the surf by a range of motor winches at the top of the beach.

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DartmoorDartmoor. North East DartmoorPlateau of Southwest Devon, mostly a national park, 956 sq. km / 369 sq. miles in area. Over half the region is around 300 m / 1,000 ft above sea level, making it the highest and largest of the moorland areas in Southwest England. The moor is noted for its wild aspect and the tors, rugged blocks of bear granite, which crown its loftier points. The highest are Yes Tor, rising to 619 m / 2,030 ft ; and High Willhays, which climbs to 621 m / 2,039 ft. At Princetown, 11 km / 7 miles east of Tavistock, is Dartmoor Prison, a high-security long-term institution. The region provides grazing for sheep, cattle, and Dartmoor ponies, a semi-wild breed probably descended from animals turned out on the moor in the Dark Ages. Dartmoor was the setting for Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Back to top The slopes beneath the granite tors are covered by gorse and heather, and the low-lying areas are characterised by broad tracts of dark peat and bog with bright green grass. The region has no natural lakes, but Devon's chief rivers, including the Dart, the Tavy, the Plym, the Avon, and the Erme, have their sources on the moor. Eight reservoirs have been constructed, covering a total 209 ha / 516 acres. Tottiford ResevoirThe main areas of broad-leaved woodland, mainly oak, lie in deep valleys at the southern edge of the moorland, such as the Dart and the Teign valleys. Originally oak and birch forest covered all but the very highest reaches of the moor, but only three ancient upland copses of oak trees survive at Black Tor Beare, Piles Copse, and Wistman's Wood. Kennick ResevoirThe valley woodlands were managed as coppice until the 20th century, being used for building, fuel, and other local purposes, but these woods are no longer generating naturally because of grazing pressure and lack of management. Tree preservation orders now cover over 1,100 ha / 2,500 acres, and the Forestry Commission manages 1,740 ha / 4,300 acres of conifer plantations. Extensive evidence of the region's prehistoric occupation includes stone rows, cairns, and the remains of hillfort settlements of the Bronze and Iron ages. Buckfast Abbey, completed in 1938, occupies the site of an 11th-century abbey near  Buckfastleigh, in the Southeast region of Dartmoor. A Ministry of Defence artillery range lies in the northern part of the moor to the south of Okehampton. Dartmoor Prison was opened in 1809 during the Napoleonic Wars, initially for the confinement of French prisoners-of-war.

DartmoorParts of Devon, particularly Dartmoor, are rich in prehistoric remains. It was one of the last counties to be conquered by the Saxons, and became one of the wealthiest parts of England, with an economy based on farming, fishing, mining, and the tin and woollen trades. There was also a large overseas trade also; however, this began to decline during the 17th century.

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Exmoor is thinly populated and remains isolated by relatively poor road connections. LyntonLynton Cliff RailwayThe principal settlements are the twin coastal resort towns of Lynton and Lynmouth in the north and Dulverton in the Southeast; the resort town of Minehead lies just outside the national park to the Northeast. The moor provides grazing for Exmoor ponies, horned Exmoor sheep, and about 1,000 wild red deer. It is also the habitat of grouse, hawks, and falcons. Prehistoric remains, including early stone circles and barrows (burial mounds), are mainly located around the edge of the moor, settlement of the moor occurring around 1800 to 1500 BC. Iron Age hillforts include Shoulsbarrow Castle. Exmoor is the setting for R D Blackmore's romance Lorna Doone (1869).

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IlfracombeIlfracombe, set amidst impressive cliff scenery, with hills inland, is the largest seaside resort in north Devon and once the fourth port of Britain. Facilities include a pier, museum, and public gardens; and it is an occasional point of departure for Lundy Island by passenger ferry. From the 14th to 16th centuries Ilfracombe was an important trading port.   Ilfracombe developed as a resort in the early 19th century and grew rapidly after the arrival of the railway in 1874.


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LundyLundy Island. Rocky, granite island at the entrance to the Bristol Channel,19 km / 12 miles Northwest of Hartland Point. Formerly used by pirates and privateers as a lair, it is now the site of a bird sanctuary and the first British Marine Nature Reserve (1986). It has Bronze and Iron Age field systems, which can be traced by their boundaries which stand up above the surface. The land is used mainly as pasture for sheep and goats, and the island has large breeding colonies of sea birds, including puffins and peregrines, and a thriving population of grey seals. At the northern and southern extremities are lighthouses, and there are the remains of the 13th-century Marisco Castle. The island was bought by the Landmark Trust in 1969. The population increases significantly during the summer tourist season. Visitors are mostly based in local, restored buildings, including the old lighthouse. Contact with the Devon mainland is mainly by ferry to Bideford or Ilfracombe.

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Plymouth and Plymouth Sound, a spacious bay which has a breakwater over 1 km / 0.6 miles in length across the entrance.  Dominating the city are the ramparts of the 17th-century citadel, built to guard the harbour soon after the long sieges when Plymouth successfully withstood Royalist attacks during the Civil War. The Eddystone Rocks lighthouse is 22 km / 14 miles to the south.  The Plymouth Hoe Devonport dockyard is used for the refitting of commissioned and the stripping of decommissioned nuclear submarines  The naval explorer James Cook led his first (1768-71) and third (1776-79) Pacific voyages from Plymouth. The English fleet set sail from to do battle with the Spanish Armada from Plymouth and a century later the Pilgrim Fathers left for the New World. The city of Plymouth rises north of the Hoe headland where tradition has it that the explorer Francis Drake finished his game of bowls as the Spanish Armada approached in 1588.

The Hoe, an esplanade overlooking Plymouth Sound, has many monuments including a statue of Sir Francis Drake. The Mayflower Pilgrims sailed from there to North America in 1620. Smeaton's Tower lighthouse sits proudly at the front of the Hoe, moved from Eddystone Rocks when the new lighthouse was erected in 1882.

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Salcombe EstuarySalcombe has a mild climate, and due to one of the country's finest natural harbours, is a popular yachting centre. Small craft can explore nearly 2,000 acres of tidal creeks. On hot sunny days, Salcombe is a wonderful English hillside town to visit with narrow streets and many good pubs and restaurants.
Lydford Gorge has dramatic walks around waterfalls and overhanging woods.

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The south Devon coastline has an impressive range of cliffs which makes for ideal walking along the South Coast Path. At the foot of these cliffs are an array of sandy beaches alternating with sloping shingle banks. the cliffs themselves vary between sandstone and chalk.
St. Winifred's ChurchThe east coast area is littered with picturesque Devon villages. BranscombeBranscombe village with the wonderful Mason's Arms is filled with thatched cottages, a thatched smithy and St. Winifred's 12th century church which has a triple decker pulpit. Access to the sea at Branscombe Mouth, owned by the National Trust, is via a narrow lane from the village which passes the 14th century Great Seaside farm and ends in a pay & display car park next to a thatched cafe which overlooks the sea.

Carpet making started here in 1755 with an eye to Turkish designs.

Georgian-flavoured town, the largest in north Devon. Wool making and wharves once made this a prosperous merchants' port.

Has literary (Charles Kingsley's Westward Ho!) and wartime (Armada) connections and is a quiet place off-season.

Bovey tracey
A small pleasant hillside town with a fine mainly 15th-century church.

Once a centre both of the tin and wool trade. Nearby is Castle Drogo, the 20th-century 'medieval' home of grocery magnate Julius Drewe, designed by Lutyens.

Crusade ships anchored here en route to the Holy Land. This naval town's formidable 15th century castle could rake the estuary with cannon shot and the river could be closed off with a massive chain.

Newton Abbot
Busy market town with fine local potteries and local cider companies.

Once a most fashionable 19th-century resort with Regency-style seaside architecture with its creams and whites and mass of wrought-iron balconies.

Quiet fishing village 'discovered' during the Napoleonic Wars and favoured by European royalty well before the Hello! era. Grand and glamorous. Nearby Kent's Cavern, a reminder of an earlier Ice Age.


Coastal resort in north Devon, 7 miles from Ilfracombe. It has 3 miles of sands, and Barricane beach by Morte Bay has many shells. Potter's Hill, overlooking Morte Bay, and the headlands of Morte Point and Baggy Point are owned by the National Trust.

Mortehoe, to the north of Woolacombe, has an Early English Gothic church with interesting carving. Near Mortehoe is the Bull Point lighthouse; a red light is reflected onto the Morte Stone, where there are dangerous currents.

During World War II, Woolacombe Bay was the site of preparations for the D-day landings because it resembled the French coastline.

WatermouthThe castellated Watermouth castle built in 1825 overlooks a long and narrow inlet where streams flow down from the north Devon hills. The castle is home to various exhibitions many revolving around smuggling. The castle dungeons and the Great Hall are well worth a visit. 
The estuary forms a delightful and sheltered inlet from the sea which is very popular with small boats and yacht's which are served by the local yacht club. Watermouth was used to test the ' pipeline under the sea' known as 'Pluto' which supplied fuel to the Allies after the D-Day landings during the Second World War.


St Peter's ChurchMarket town on the River Exe, 14 miles northeast of Exeter. Textile manufacture is the chief industry. The restored Tiverton Castle (begun in 1066) includes two original towers and a 14th-century gateway.

Blundell's School, where R D Blackmore, author of the 1869 novel Lorna Doone, was a pupil, was founded here in 1604. St Peter's church has the richly carved 16th-century Greenway Chapel.

Hartland Point in north Devon, 12 miles southwest of Bideford can be reached via country lanes from the village of Hartland on the B3248. The cliffs rise to 325 ft high and offer spectacular coastal scenery whether walking along the coastal path on the clifftops or around the many small coves along the shoreline. The lighthouse at Hartland Point has one of the strongest beams of any lighthouse around Britain's coast. The Atlantic Ocean has battered this part of Devon's coast creating impressive gale lashed scenery. A couple of miles down the coast at Hartland Quay, there is a small car park with access to the shore and small harbour which was created by Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir John Hawkins.

Powderham Castle, Exeter.

Arlington Court, North Devon

Bickleigh Castle, Tiverton.

Avenue Cottage Gardens, Totnes.

Bayard's Cove Fort, Dartmouth.

Bicton Park Gardens, Salterton.

Bowden House, Totnes.

Buckfast Abbey, Buckfastleigh.

Buckland Abbey, Yelverton.

Cadhay, Ottery St. Mary.