Small villages busy themselves with local, volunteer-run events, and cyclists or walkers on the quiet lanes are rarely disturbed by something as vexing as a car. There’s so much for the Slow visitor to enjoy.
Mention holidays in Devon, and someone who doesn’t know the county is likely to think of cream teas, pasties and picture-postcard villages. So far, so good, and indeed they are plentiful; but what about East Devon’s spectacular Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a multi-million-year history? Or Exeter’s magnificent Cathedral, containing the longest unbroken stretch of Gothic vaulting in the world? Or the slow, peaceful and beautiful miles of off-road cycling and walking offered by the likes of the Exe Estuary Trail, the South Coast Cycle Path and the 80-mile Buzzard Route? Add to these the sand and shingle bays of sheltered little coastal towns, cupped protectively between their ancient cliffs; the mass of waterbirds on the Exe and Axe estuaries; and the far-reaching views from hills and heathland. Around 60% of East Devon is a designated Area of Natural Beauty, and it shows.
Whether for a short break or a longer holiday, East Devon is a place to savour slowly. Don’t rush. Enjoy its meandering lanes with flower-flecked hedgerows, its timeless little village churches, and its many good restaurants where you can linger pleasurably over fresh, locally produced food. See geology brought innovatively to life in the new Seaton Jurassic Centre; visit Sidmouth’s popular donkey sanctuary; learn about carpets in Axminster or lace-making in Honiton; and discover local history in lovingly maintained museums. Bus routes – always scenic and sometimes charmingly erratic – link the towns and villages, so for true, slow relaxation you can leave your car at home.
Bradt on Britain – our Slow Travel approach
Bradt’s coverage of Britain’s regions makes ‘Slow Travel’ its focus. To us, Slow Travel means ditching the tourist ticklists – deciding not to try to see ‘too much’ – and instead taking time to get properly under the skin of a special region. You don’t have to travel at a snail’s pace: you just have to allow yourself to savour the moment, appreciate the local differences that create a sense of place, and celebrate its food, people and traditions.
Explore rock pools, enjoy a coastal walk or try your hand at wild swimming.
Leave the car behind and explore Britain’s highways, byways and coastal pathways on two wheels.
Hilary Bradt gives her tips on what to do on a rainy day in Devon.
There are so many wild and watery places to explore along Devon rivers, estuaries and coastline.
Whether you want to find the freshest fish, go rockpooling with the kids, or simply want to escape the crowds – we’ve picked some of our favourite beaches in England.