English Riviera Guide - Further Afield
"Apart from having so much to do within the region, the English Riviera is a great place to stay to see the wider area of south east Devon..."
Within an hour’s drive you have the rural beauty of the South Hams with the towns of Kingsbridge, Totnes and Dartmouth as well as the countryside which now holds Britain’s largest concentration of organic farms. Along the coast there are plentiful little villages like Strete with its weathered limestone cottages and historic and natural Slapton Sands where the practices for the invasion of Normandy on D-Day took place.
Take some time to visit the memorial to the 946 American soldiers who died when the exercise was attacked by German U-Boats. The tank that marks the memorial was recovered from the depths to stand as a reminder of the fateful day. Behind the beach you’ll find Slapton Ley, a natural lagoon which has a rich and varied wildlife. Visit the centre there for more information on the flora and fauna before walking the paths through the reserve.
To the west of the English Riviera rise the granite heights of Dartmoor, one of the most inhospitable parts of the UK despite its south westerly location. Dotted amongst the granite tors you’ll find medieval and Stone Age villages, places of magic, mystery and folklore and near Widdecombe, the setting for the Hound of the Baskervilles: Grimpen Mire in the ley of Fox Tor. In the summer, the heat of the sun burns the tors an ochre colour dotted with purple splashes of heather whilst in winter several feet of snow whipped around by howling blizzards cloak the landscape bringing misery to the sheep and Dartmoor ponies that live there. Visit Widdecombe fair whilst you’re there. One of the oldest fairs in the country and certainly one of the best known, immortalised in the song ‘Uncle Tom Cobley’.
To the north of the English Riviera you’ll find the historic city of Exeter with its magnificent cathedral, Roman ruins and unique catacombs that run underneath the city. A fabulous new shopping centre in Princesshay keeps the shopaholics happy whilst the River Exe and its canal system offer opportunities to take leisurely walks as far as the ancient village of Topsham, home of some of Britain’s finest inns.
Southwest of the Riviera the A38 takes you to Plymouth, the famous naval port and location of Sir Francis Drake’s game of bowls on the Hoe before he set off to fight the Spanish Armada.
From Plymouth you can cross into Cornwall, either on the modern Tamar Bridge or more historically, by train on Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s fabulous steel structure. A more refined way still to cross the Tamar is by the Saltash ferry which crosses under the bridge and is one of the oldest, still operational, ferries in the country.
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