At long last, warm weather is on the way. We can finally strip off a layer or two – or at least the hat and gloves – and enjoy some fun in the sun.
With longer days and warmer weekends on the horizon, it’s time to plan some outdoor spring activities that will help blow off the cobwebs.
Being so far down south makes Devon a great place to visit in spring. The climate is mild and the locals are friendly, happy to welcome holiday makers after the winter season.
We’ve picked out some great fun things to do in Devon this spring, including beaches, theme parks, walking and camping.
Trains to Devon
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The 180-mile walking and cycling path in North Devon is a figure-of-eight loop, with Barnstaple at its centre. The northern loop takes travellers through small villages with thatched-roof cottages, over rugged Exmoor, and along to Ilfracombe and beyond. The southern loop goes via Okehampton, which you can reach by train from Exeter along the newly reopened Dartmoor Line and incorporates the UK’s longest continuous off-road cycle path.
Taking this gentle route along the Plymouth waterfront is one of the best ways to discover the city’s rich history. Along this nine-mile section of the larger South West Coast Path, walkers can learn about some of the colourful characters associated with Plymouth, including Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Francis Drake and the popular painter Beryl Cook.
Discover the queen of crime’s favourite hangouts when she was a young woman living in Torquay. Follow the mile-long route and explore the cove where she bathed, her favoured roller-skating spot, and the Imperial Hotel, which featured in several of Christie’s novels.
Exmouth Beach is a two-mile arc of golden sand south of the town centre. It’s a perfect spot for walking, playing in the sand and sampling the many water-sports on offer, including kayaking, windsurfing and paddle boarding. It’s also regarded as the gateway to the UNESCO Jurassic Coast World Heritage site, which continues east along the coast and into neighbouring Dorset.
An hour by bus from Barnstaple station, Tunnels Beaches is a warren of hand-carved tunnels leading to hidden beaches and Victorian bathing pools. The secretive passageways were built in the 1820s by a local entrepreneur, who employed Welsh miners to dig the tunnels through the hillside, allowing people to access the coast more easily. Four of the tunnels remain open to the public. Devon beaches don’t come more secluded than this.
This long sandy beach, with its Victorian promenade and pier, is a popular destination in the summer months, with holiday-makers coming in their droves to sample the traditional seaside holiday experience. There’s a playpark, crazy golf and ice cream huts, as well as plenty of cafes and fish and chip shops. Teignmouth itself makes for an excellent base, if you’re staying a while in the area, with Georgian buildings and art galleries and a nice high street for a touch of shopping.
In easy reach of Newton Abbot town centre, Decoy Country Park is a local nature reserve centred around a large lake, with loads of family-friendly activities on offer. There’s an impressive adventure playground, a duck pond, a BMX track and acres of woodland to explore.
This beautiful headland near Torbay is not technically a park, but it is a Natural Nature Reserve and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Make your way to Berry Head if you’re looking for a relaxing long walk with plenty of fresh sea air. And when the time comes for a spot of grub, there’s always the award-winning Guardhouse Café. Berry Head is walking distance from Brixham which is less than a 20-minute bus journey from Paignton.
Babbacombe Model Village in Torquay spans an impressive four acres and is home to 426 miniature buildings, with an estimated population of over 13,000 tiny people. The models include railways, vehicles and well-known monuments and landmarks, incorporating a variety of different architectural styles, making for a fun day out with the family on the English Riviera.
Just a 15-minute taxi ride from Exeter is Devon’s foremost theme park, home to over 60 rides, including roller coasters, a log flume, a soft play area, and an impressive adventure playground, complete with massive twisty slides. And on top of that, you’ll find zoo animals and a cuddly farm – more than enough to keep everyone amused for a day out this spring.
Discover giraffes, cheetahs, crocodiles, red pandas, rhinos and loads more mesmerising wildlife at Paignton Zoo. It’s home to 2,000 animals across 80 acres and boasts botanical gardens that are home to plants from around the world, including the colossal titan arum. This is the ideal place to visit if you’re looking for outdoor activities with kids.
Looking for Devon camping sites? Beverley Park is a welcoming seaside destination that offers a variety of pitches for campers. But if you’re not keen on sleeping under canvas, there are also holiday lodges and caravans to choose from. The site can be reached by bus from the centre of Paignton in under 15 minutes.
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