A taste of Devon - a weekend away in South Devon - Dartmoor and more !
Devon is well known for its sandy beaches, fossil cliff, beautiful villages and moorland. Of course a weekend is not enough to cover all of that in Devon. But we tried to make the most out of it (while making sure we will be rested enough to go back to work the following Monday :P ). This time we went to visit the moorland and villages, saving the beaches and the coast for the next visit.
Friday night we set off to go to explore this part of the southwest England. By the time we got to Rewe, a small village just outside Exeter (one of the main cities in Devon), it was already 11pm so we went straight to bed.
Day 1: Dartmoor, Fingle Bridge.
Saturday morning we headed to Dartmoor the national park, that is known for its moorland with many tors (it basically means small hills with rock at the top). We went off-road driving through the Old Manaton road to Dartmoor. You could get there without going off-road. I wasn't behind the wheel, so I had no say in the driving.
The landscape was spectacular. From the top of a tor I could see the wild moorland terrain rolling into the distance. I couldn't imagine how beautiful it would be during sunrise or sunset. We were so lucky to get blue sky and sunshine in early February although the wind was crazy.
If you're a walker, mountain biker or climber, you'll definitely love Dartmoor. I saw some really nice boulders for climbing and some routes for mountain biking. We spent about 2 hours hiking, walking through thorny gorse (don't ask me why.... it wasn't my idea), climbing on some rocks and tors, jumping through some muddy puddles. I absolutely admired the natural beauty there and enjoyed every moment spent with mother nature.
Another thing to look out for in Dartmoor is pony. Dartmoor is known for its wild pony. They wander everywhere so you don't really need to look for them. You just need to pay a bit attention and you'll catch them for sure. I spotted quite a few in the moorland but we didn't go get a close up view.
After the hike, we drove to Rugglestone Inn for lunch. It was a short drive and the place was such a nice Devon pub. The pub was cozy and full of people. There was also a lot of seating space outside and the food was really good.
After being recharged by food, we went off-road driving for half an hour or so (I was half asleep on the car :D You could probably tell now that I wasn't into off-road driving) and arrived at the Fingle Bridge Inn, a very nice pub located on the banks of the Teign. The Inn has a cosy fireplace inside which is perfect for a winter day. Outside is a sun terrace to enjoy in good weather. I took a walk around the pub and got on the stone arch bridge (Fingle Bridge) to take in the view of the fast flowing Teign and the naked trees shivering in the wind' blasts. I have no doubt that in the summer the place would be full of people hanging out by the banks, having a picnic or going swimming.
After some drinks at the Fingle Bridge Inn, we headed back to our accommodation for some rest. In the evening, we went to Exeter for dinner and some drinks. I wasn't impressed with Exeter in all honesty. This was the second time I came to Exeter and I just couldn't find anything that would make me want to fall in love with the city. I truly believe that the beauty of Devon lies outside of this city.
Day 2: Devon villages - Honiton, Broadhembury, Gittisham
Sunday morning, we set off to visit villages. Our first stop was Honiton, a market town known for lace and pottery. The town is very small, you can easily cover it in about half an hour. As it was a Sunday, there wasn't much going on because all shops apart from cafes were closed. I noticed that there were a lot of antique shops on the high street of Honiton. The goods they had on display by the shop window looked so good! I kept thinking about how much I wanted to go in those antique shops.
We stopped in a cafe to have cream tea because it is a must when you travel to the Southwest of England. Did you know that there is a debate on how to eat scone? Which goes first on a scone - clotted cream or jam is still a question for many. In Devon people spread the clotted cream on the scone first and then finish it with jam on top, whereas the Cornish tradition does the other way round. Jam first and then cream.
I do not have an answer to this cream tea dilemma. I tend to spread cream first because it seems like a logical order to me (I'd butter my toast before putting jam on it). However, I honestly don't care. My personal goal is to get as much cream as possible (the more the yummier!) so as long as I get enough cream on the scone, I'd be happy either way.
Honiton was a nice town, although I didn't feel like it had a lot of character. (Sunday ! remember that everything is closed on sundays!)
After Honiton, we drove to Broadhembury, a very picturesque little village. The village is characterised by yellow painted houses with roof made of thatch. I loved the old and rustic look that the thatched roof gave as it made me feel like I walked into the past.
Similarly to Honiton, Broadhembury was dead quiet as it was a Sunday. We had a walk around the village before returning to the car and driving to the next one.
I was driven to Gittisham where I got see more of thatched roofing (yayyyy)... And again, everything was shut, yet it didn't stop me from enjoying the pretty village. I had a walk around and enjoyed the view in quietude. The good thing is that no one was around to photobomb me.
The main reason why we went to Gittisham was the Pig - at Combe restaurant/hotel. The place is a country house hotel, stunning with a kitchen garden where the restaurant sources a lot of fresh ingredients from. There is a nice bar and some reading rooms and lounges to relax. The restaurant is fancy and the food of good quality. I would highly recommend if you would like to try something nice in South Devon.
After a nice meal in the Pig, we spent some time the lounge relaxing and having some wine. Soon it was time to go home and get back to reality (Monday !). The trip to Devon was short yet memorable. A weekend clearly wasn't sufficient to do Devon justice. I would love to go back there to revisit the moors, try out some outdoor climbing and of course to visit the coast. But that's saved for the summer when the weather is better and it's not freezing to go into the water.
Have you been to Devon before? What is your favourite place in Devon?