The days are getting longer. The sun is occasionally gracing us with its lovely presence. Summer is almost tangible. Yet we must concede that – even in England’s sunny south – the weather at this time of the year can be changeable. To help you prepare for any eventuality during your holiday home stay in Devon, we’ve drawn up a list of potential activities: five for sunny days when good weather demands you be outdoors and five indoor options for shelter when the heavens open.
So before you set off to Devon, check the forecast and check out our list. Because we’re optimists at heart, we’ll begin with the outdoor options.
Go surfing in Woolacombe Sands, North Devon
North Devon’s Atlantic swell has a reputation among surfers and Woolacombe Sands is one of the prime wave riding spots in the county. This squeaky-clean three-mile long Blue Flag beach was recently chosen among the top five beaches in Europe by Trip Advisor. Backed by dunes and cliffs, the sweeping stretch is certainly easy on the eye, but the long breaking waves that roll in off the Atlantic are what attracts the crowds. There are surf schools nearby where you can rent wetsuits and boards, or book in for surfing lessons.
Swim in Broad Sands, North Devon
When it’s hot and dry, there’s nothing better than an invigorating ocean dip. Swimming spots are plentiful on the North Devon coastline, but the small cove of Broad Sands is surely one of the best. Located on the edge of Exmoor National Park west of Combe Martin, this secluded shingle stretch is surrounded by wooded cliffs. The route to it is down narrow, uneven steps, but don’t let the journey put you off. If it was easy to access, it would surely be busier. Dolphins can occasionally be seen playing in the sheltered waters here and its wooded tree-covered islet could have been plucked from the pages of a Thai tourism brochure.
River Dart, South Devon
In the mad summer rush to the seaside, the delights of the River Dart are often overlooked. But on a hot summer’s day, a boat ride here is nothing short of glorious. Steer your own adventure on a canoe or kayak, or enjoy doing next to nothing on a leisurely cruise. Upstream, the River Dart Country Park has lots of kid-friendly activities centred on the river, including Zorbing and adventure playgrounds.
Eat al fresco at the Cary Arms, South Devon
Eating al fresco is one of life’s simple pleasures. Throw in sea views and a refreshing sea breeze into the mix and – ah, rapture! One of the best places in Devon to enjoy this rare pleasure is the Cary Arms. Set below the cliffs next to the Babbacombe Beach, this restaurant serves up superb gastropub grub. Expect locally sourced fare like Cornish hake and West County sirloin, as well as superior real ales. Dine outdoors on the terrace and watch bathers splashing around in the shore break.
Walk along Teignmouth Pier, South Devon
With its cheerful arcades and amusements, Teignmouth’s 19th century pier is the quintessential British seaside experience. One of an ever decreasing number of surviving Victorian piers, it was pummelled and nearly destroyed by winter storms in 2014, but has since been carefully restored. Take a walk along this elegant pier, revel in the traditional atmosphere and enjoy some old-fashioned seaside fun.
Greenway, South Devon ~ on a rainy day in South Devon, there are few better places to find shelter than in Agatha Christie’s old holiday home – a cream-coloured Georgian mansion overlooking the River Dart. The house is now a National Trust property, and it may be familiar to Christie fans, having made an appearance in some of Christie’s books, including Dead Man’s Folly and Five Little Pigs. Inside the mansion, you can see the Christie family’s personal belongings and collectibles, which include botanical china, silverware and books.
The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, North Devon ~ this small-town museum is more than just a rainy-day diversion; it’s a worthwhile excursion no matter what the weather. The story of North Devon is told through hands-on exhibits. Learn about the prehistoric inhabitants of the region, nature on the Tarka River and life in the area during World War II, before retreating to the tea room for cakes and a cuppa.
Virtual Jet Centre, South Devon ~ when the skies of Devon are darkening, there is one place you can go where they are guaranteed to be bright and clear: the Virtual Jet Centre located near Exeter. Here, aspiring pilots and aeronautically curious travellers can take to the skies in an aircraft simulator that recreates the experience of flying a Boeing jet. You’ll be briefed by a pilot instructor before entering the cockpit and hitting the runway.
Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, North Devon ~ when the rain hits and you can’t enjoy the scenery outside, you can still enjoy it from the covered carriages of the old Lynton and Barnstaple Railway. This narrow gauge line ceased operation more than 70 years ago, but a short stretch of the track was recently reopened following loving restoration of the original rail coaches. Passengers can admire views of Exmoor National Park as the antiquated steam train puffs along the route.
The National Trust Carriage Museum at Arlington Court, North Devon ~ with more than 3,000 acres of grounds, Arlington Court in Barnstaple is a sunny day favourite, but a sudden downpour is the perfect excuse to explore the fascinating carriage collection located in its stables. The collection contains all kinds of elegant old-fashioned vehicles , from glamorous chariots with silk and silver finishes to practical hansom cab – a horse-drawn precursor to the taxi – whose automatic locking system helped stop fare dodgers from running off.