Photogenic Landscapes and Historic Sites in Devon




Valley of Rocks Hooken Beach Hern Rock Point Exeter Cathedral
Devon is renowned for its moorland and coastal scenery. The county contains all of Dartmoor National Park and about a quarter of Exmoor National Park, the remainder being in Somerset, which along with Dorset borders Devon to the east. Both parks are characterised by extensive, treeless uplands, dotted with weathered granite outcrops, and abundant deposits of peat. There are no dramatic peaks, and most of the moors have low relief, so the best views are generally of the large scale landscape, but the hills are often topped with photogenic eroded rock formations. Many trails cross the two national parks, and a few smaller moors elsewhere in the county.

All of the Devon coast is dramatic, and similar in appearance to the north and south; mostly cliff-bound but also forming many sandy beaches and coves. The rocks are sedimentary to the south, generally tilted at a moderate angle, but more distorted to the north, and partly metamorphosed. The eastern 30 miles of the southern shoreline, beyond Exmouth, is part of the Jurassic Coast that extends across most of Dorset, and contains large exposures of fossil-bearing strata spanning 185 million years of geological history. Long stretches of both coastlines are generally accessible only from above, along the coastal path, but may also be explored at sea level, perhaps only for a few hours around low tide. Some of these regions are amongst the most scenic and little-visited parts of the whole country.

Devon contains a few, relatively minor prehistoric sites, and no major ruined abbeys, but does have a good selection of castles, and a particularly beautiful cathedral.



Castles



Berry Pomeroy Castle
Berry Pomeroy Castle
Ruins of a 15th century castle containing a Tudor manor house; a substantial and evocative site, on a limestone outcrop in a wooded, rural setting

Rating: ★★★★★
Dartmouth Castle
Dartmouth Castle
Small castle, built as an artillery fort at the end of the 14th century, with a spectacular location on a rocky outcrop at the entrance to Dartmouth Harbour

Rating: ★★★★★
Lydford Castle
Lydford Castle
Square tower/keep from the 13th century, mostly used as a prison, close to earthworks from an earlier fortification

Rating: ★★★★★
Okehampton Castle
Okehampton Castle
Photogenic ruins on a partly wooded hill above the West Okement River; once the largest castle in the county

Rating: ★★★★

Powderham Castle - castellated mansion, begun at the start of the 15th century

Tiverton Castle - medieval castle that was later transformed into a country mansion, retaining many original features; a varied and interesting place to visit. Privately owned, with limited opening

Totnes Castle
Totnes Castle
Small but well preserved Norman motte and bailey castle, centred on a circular keep

Rating: ★★★★★

Ruined Abbeys



Canonsleigh Abbey - small monastic remains adjoining a farm, near Burlescombe, close to the border with Somerset

Cornworthy Priory
Cornworthy Priory
Ruined but mostly complete gatehouse from a minor 14th century nunnery, abandoned in 1536; in a field a few miles south of Totnes

Rating: ★★★★

Frithelstock Priory - picturesque ruins in a small village south of Bideford

Cathedrals

, and other major churches

Exeter Cathedral
Exeter Cathedral
Large and very beautiful 12th century cathedral, featuring fine ceiling vaulting, ancient stained glass and a variety of carvings

Rating: ★★★★★
Ottery St Mary
Ottery St Mary
Grand, cathedral-like church from the 14th century, featuring intricate vaulting, medieval tombs and an astronomical clock

Rating: ★★★★

Landscapes



Axmouth to Lyme Regis
Axmouth to Lyme Regis
Cliffs, beaches and landslips along a remote, 7 mile section of the Jurassic Coast

Rating: ★★★★
Beer Head
Beer Head
Sheer cliffs, sea caves and scenic beaches along the Jurassic Coast. Also many summer wildflowers

Rating: ★★★★★
Burgh Island
Burgh Island
Cliff-lined island opposite a popular sandy beach

Rating: ★★★★★
Glenthorne Beach to Foreland Point
Glenthorne Beach to Foreland Point
Spectacular, three mile section of the north coast, with dense woodland sloping steeply down to remote beaches and eroded rock formations

Rating: ★★★★★
Haytor Rocks and Hound Tor
Haytor Rocks and Hound Tor
Granite outcrops in Dartmoor National Park, plus a ruined medieval village and several old quarries

Rating: ★★★★
Lydford Gorge
Lydford Gorge
Deep, wooded ravine along the River Lyd at the west edge of Dartmoor National Park, with several sections of dark narrows and a 90 foot waterfall

Rating: ★★★★★
The Rough Nature Reserve
The Rough Nature Reserve
Steeply-sloping, sometimes boggy grassland, with a good variety of wildflowers

Rating: ★★★★
Sidmouth to Ladram Bay
Sidmouth to Ladram Bay
Red sandstone cliffs, isolated beaches and large sea stacks; part of the Jurassic Coast

Rating: ★★★★★
Valley of Rocks to Woody Bay
Valley of Rocks to Woody Bay
Rock formations, isolated beaches, steep cliffs and coastal woodland, west of Lynton

Rating: ★★★★★


Map of Featured Devon Locations