Wildlife Writer & Photographer
The journey to Devon is nice with lots to see once you get off the M25 and onto the A303, you have the old medieval stones at Stonehenge and the beautiful scenery as you go across the top of Salisbury Plain and then you eventually get to the winding, hilly Devon roads with wonderful centre barriers full of wild flowers like poppies and oxy daisies, that are really quite beautiful, the journey took about 5 hours after a short stop for a cup of coffee and a sandwich.
On our first day out we drove into Dawlish, it is a beautiful town and has a park which starts near the beach and goes back into town, but it also has a river which travels alongside it with ducks and black swans on it. They have been nesting at Dawlish for years and are stunning to see. The park has lots of places to sit and enjoy the sun and cafes and bars alongside if you feel a peckish or thirsty.
The weather was really nice, so we had Devon ice cream before sitting down to plan the following days together, we then decided to set off to the Dawlish Warren beach to relax in the sunshine and top up our tans. Dawlish Warren has a huge beach and lifeguards who inform you of any wind changes and when you can and cannot go into the sea because of the tides.
The following day we set off for Topsham which is about 20 minutes away and on the River Exe, it is really beautiful and has a hide for watching birds at the RSPB Bowling Green Marsh hide. July is a quiet time of year with mainly grey herons and egrets but in winter it is full of avocets, oystercatchers and even the odd osprey. We then decided to set off for Otterton which was only a short journey, we felt a bit hungry so we sat down and had lunch at the Otterton Mill, it is an old working mill and the cafe is renowned for its food, we had a lovely meal and then set off on the ‘Hunt for the Beavers of Devon’ which were supposed to be downstream, we did not see any but we think we may have seen an otter with a fish in its mouth before it disappeared underwater with its catch.
After a good night’s sleep, we decided to go to Torquay for the day, we found a good parking spot and set off for a walk around, it is a really lovely place and has a huge marina with boats of all shapes and sizes, it also had an awful lot of barrel jellyfish in the bay, which are huge things but their sting is harmless to humans. We had a nice lunch and then set off to a local attraction, ‘Living Coasts’, it is at the end of the bay and had huge netting over it and we were not sure why until we went in and saw all the sea birds like guillemots and even a Peruvian puffin with two blonde side burns on it, they have volunteers who help people with recognition and information about the centre which supports local rescue places to recuperate Guillemots before they can be released into the wild again, those who were too injured have a safe place to live where they are well fed in a pleasant environment. After a cool drink we decided to go across the bay to Brixham on the ferry, we got a ticket which was only £7.50 return and made our way to the docking point. It was quite a nice journey across, we saw numerous birds like cormorants and the occasional gull but no dolphins like some people had seen a few days before.
Brixham has a lovely small harbour which is full of fishing vessels and even an old pirate ship to entertain the kids and adults too, it has a wide selection of bars and fish & chip shops. As it was a nice day we sat outside the Crown & Anchor pub and enjoyed a cold drink and got into conversation with a group of people from Wales, Bristol and Manchester, they were really nice and told us the Brixham’s fish & chip shop next door was amazing, so we ordered haddock, chips, mushy peas and gravy, a first for me, as my other half comes originally from Liverpool and this is customary for them. I must say it was really nice and is worth a visit.
The following day we headed off to Dartmouth to a National Trust house called Greenways, which had been the summer retreat for Agatha Christie back in the day. Unfortunately, you have to pre-book parking via telephone because it gets very busy, so we rang ahead and made the most of our waiting time by having a look around beautiful Dartmouth. We chose to get the large car ferry across which in itself is a nice little cruise over the water. In Dartmouth there were quite a few people fishing for mackerel and many fellow tourists walking around with cameras taking pictures of the harbour and the River Dart which meanders through Dartmouth to the sea.
I would recommend Devon if you have a young family or are a lover of wildlife... it has a combination of wonderful beaches, rivers and countryside. There are lots of options for brilliant days out too.