Devon: First resort for families

Pick the perfect base for your holiday and Devon’s attractions will do the rest, says Kate Calvert


Torbay



What's the attraction? The 1950s are alive at beaches such as Broadsands, Paignton and Goodrington Sands, and there are outdoor activities from kite buggying to watersports to fishing trips, as well as ancient history to explore.

Stay the night: Try Beverley Park ( beverley-holidays.co.uk). There are four sections to this multi-facility park overlooking Torbay, one offering touring pitches. One night in a caravan for two is from £19.30.

Taste sensation: Occombe Farm ( www.occombe.org.uk) is an inspired organic farm where there's a board of daily specials in the café, a farm shop, nature trail, a chance to meet the animals, plus family events. Admission is free. Great outdoors: Explore the ancient sand dunes and red sandstone of the Unesco-designated Global Geopark ( www.englishrivierageopark.org.uk), a conservation area which spans three south Devon towns, Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. There are regular cruises, canoe excursions, family guided walks, self-led walks, children's events and more.

Rainy day: The prehistoric caves at Kents Cavern ( www.kents-cavern.co.uk) were used throughout the Stone Age, with relics dating back 500,000 years. To see finds from them, including "cave bear" skulls visit the Torquay Museum ( torquaymuseum.org).

Big day out: Berry Head National Nature Reserve ( www.berryhead.org.uk) on the southern arm of the bay is home to southern England's largest guillemot colony, along with fulmars, kittiwakes and shags on impressive 60-metre-high cliffs.

Star quality: Paignton Zoo ( paigntonzoo.org.uk) features Lemur Wood, Monkey Heights, Crocodile Swamp and other recreated habitats, and also operates Living Coasts ( livingcoasts.org.uk) on Torquay harbour front, which boasts Penguin Beach and successfully breeds seal pups as part of its conservation efforts.

Moretonhampstead

What's the attraction? A market town on the sunnier, eastern side of Dartmoor national park, home to small shops. It's also a great place to recharge after a day of outdoor adventures.

Stay the night: Bovey Castle ( boveycastle.com) was once the holiday home of the WH Smith family. Now it welcomes children with morning egg collecting and the chance to meet birds from nearby Dartmoor Hawking ( dartmoorhawking.co.uk). For parents there's golf, a spa and pool, and fine food – plus roaring fires. Doubles from £249. Taste sensation: The White Horse Moretonhampstead ( whitehorsedevon.co.uk) is a one-time spit-and-sawdust pub now known for its food, including super-thin pizzas. It also offers good beer and live music.

Great outdoors: Moretonhampstead Community Swimming Pool on Court Street is a volunteer-run, solar-heated outdoor pool with grassed areas.

Rainy day: Wood and Rush ( woodandrush.net) runs children's courses in basketry during the school holidays. There are also bushcraft courses with Wild Woods '* Willow ( wildwoodswillow.org.uk).

Big day out: Take a hike – that's what Dartmoor is really about. The Park Authority ( www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk) offers downloadable audio walks.

Star quality: Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust ( dpht.co.uk) offers free two- to three-hour walks round Bellever, with the chance to learn about Dartmoor ponies.

Ilfracombe

What's the attraction? The resort's 19th-century roots are celebrated in the Ilfracombe Victorian Celebration from 11 to 19 June ( ilfracombevictoriancelebration.org.uk), but there are plenty of modern options in this popular hillside location.

Stay the night: Up and above the fray is North Morte Farm Caravan and Camping ( northmortefarm.co.uk). A four-person holiday home costs from £290 per week.

Taste sensation: The award-winning Walker's Chocolate Emporium ( chocolate-emporium.co.uk) is a shop with a museum of chocolate and live chocolate making on view.

Great outdoors: H2Outdoor ( h2outdoor.co.uk) offers anything from one-off tasters to week-long packages of activities such as kayaking, high ropes, surfing, coasteering, mountain biking, and pony trekking around the North Devon coast.

Rainy day: Ilfracombe Aquarium ( ilfracombeaquarium.co.uk) offers a look at what's under the water in an Exmoor stream all the way out to Lundy island, passing estuary, rock pool and harbour habitats.

Big day out: Take the MS Oldenburg on the two-hour trip to Lundy ( lundyisland.co.uk), a chunk of granite rising from the Bristol Channel and the only Marine Nature Reserve in England. It's a great place to see puffins. Day returns from £33.50.

Star quality: Try Tunnels Beach ( tunnelsbeaches.co.uk). You pay £2.25 (or £7.50 for a family) to pass through the tunnels, which were hand carved in the 1820s and lead to a sheltered cove. This Victorian bathing lagoon is great for children, and there are also wonderful rockpools.

Sidmouth

What's the attraction? 18th-century houses nudge the pebble beach in one of England's first seaside resorts. Despite 21st-century touches, it's all about the quiet confidence of history, with traditional shops and even a folk festival (29 July to 5 August).

Stay the night: The Victoria ( brend-hotels.co.uk/thevictoria) offers high Victorian style, tastefully modernised with a spa plus lido-style pool. Double rooms from £140, including breakfast and a five-course dinner.

Taste sensation: Taste of Sidmouth ( tasteofsidmouth.co.uk) is a tea room loved for its ice creams (Italian with a Devon twist).

Great outdoors: Want to fly a kite? The name "Windgate" tells you where to try, up above the town.

Rainy day: Take a stylish trip to the flicks at the Art Deco Sidmouth Radway Cinema ( scottcinemas.co.uk), opened in 1928 and restored to glory in 1999.

Big day out: Escot gardens, maze and park ( escot-devon.co.uk) offers simple fun – woodland camps, rope swing, letterboxing with cunning clues – as well as bird of prey displays.

Star quality: This coast is the only place in the world to see unbroken evidence of 185 million years of evolution ( jurassiccoast.com). Take a hike over it to Branscombe, for lunch at the Mason's Arms ( masonsarms.co.uk).

Dartmouth

What's the attraction? Half-timbered buildings and narrow streets date back to its 14th-century heyday as a trading port. Now it's a place to go crabbing on the quayside, watch the yachts, or wander along to rivermouth castle.

Stay the night: Fingals ( fingals.co.uk) is up-river from Dartmouth, a slightly eccentric place with a heated pool, grass tennis and more. Doubles from £120, including breakfast.

Taste sensation: Dartmouth Ice Cream ( dartmouthicecream.com) offers not just strawberries and cream but also stem ginger and Turkish delight flavours.

Great outdoors: Confident sailors should try Dartmouth Boat Hire ( dartmouth-boat-hire.co.uk), which has boats from £45 per hour. Or take the African Queen ( theafricanqueen.co.uk) for a family fishing cruise.

Rainy day: Catch the Greenway Ferry ( greenwayferry.co.uk) to Agatha Christie's delightful holiday home, overlooking the river.

Big day out: Take a round-robin trip on the Dartmouth Steam Railway ( pdsr.co.uk), a six-and-half-mile line along the coast from Paignton to Kingswear. Cross to Dartmouth on the passenger ferry, then on to Totnes by river cruise before returning to Paignton by bus – all for £62 per family of four.

Star quality: In Foss Street you'll find two Simon Drew shops ( simondrew.co.uk), combining fine penmanship with a British love of dreadful puns, on mugs, T-shirts and more, with the gallery stocking fine ceramics and Drew works.

Kate Calvert is the author of 'Devon with Kids' (published by Footprint Travel Guides at £13.99)

Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
Louis van Gaal at the Hawthorns prior to Manchester United's game against West Brom
football

Follow the latest updates from the Monday night Premier League fixture

News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past