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Home to miles of blemish-free British beaches, rolling evergreen hills and postcard-pretty coastal towns, Devon is a treasured UK holiday destination. Stop in on family-run delis and neighbourhood farm shops to enjoy produce plucked from the abundant farmland and rich waters, before packing up your bounty for picnics, boat trips and alfresco dinners. For a late-summer holiday, an autumn escape or a weekend staycation, opt for one of Stay in Devon’s charming cottages and make the most of the Devonshire countryside.
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Crowned as Devon’s coastal capital, Exeter is the ideal jumping-off point to explore both the vibrant Roman city and the English Riviera. Meander through the cobbled lane that is Gandy Street, filled with independent food, fashion and furniture shops, tour the grandiose Exeter Cathedral or totter across to the town of Topsham for stellar sunsets above the estuary. After a day of city escapades, call upon the husband-and-wife duo behind Bon Gout Delicatessen for ready-made picnics, hampers and countless locally made treats. Whether you want to build your own lunch before tackling the Jurassic Coast, fancy packing a picnic of homemade Scotch eggs, ploughman’s sausage rolls bursting with free-range pork, chunky onion marmalade and Devonshire cheese, or want to nibble at a perfectly curated cheeseboards loaded with Quicke’s Mature Devonshire cheddar, Devon Blue and Vulscombe goat’s cheese, they’ll rustle it up and deliver it straight to your door – giving you more time to enjoy Kenniford Cider Steps’ bucolic surrounds. Ideal for young families, the three-bedroom converted barn is set within 28ha of verdant countryside. Slip on your wellies, don your wax jacket and set out on a ramble to the working farm’s pets’ corner, where you can feed ponies, piglets, sheep, chicken and ducks.
Straddling the Devon, Dorset and Somerset borders, the honey-coloured three-bedroom Bloomsbury Cottage is an idyllic crash pad from which to explore the quintessentially English seaside town of Sidmouth and nearby River Cottage, offering a cornucopia of culinary excellence. Backed by green hills and ruby-red cliffs, Jacob’s Ladder is a must-see stretch of sandy beach dotted with rock pools. The 16km route along the Jurassic Coast stretches between Sidmouth and Seaton and whether you tackle all or some of the trail, the far-reaching vistas across the 200-million-year-old coastline make for a jubilant reward. Before retreating to one of the thatched cottage’s glorious freestanding bathtubs, be sure to stop by the River Cottage. Less of a deli and more of a dining destination (and 2017 Food and Travel Award winner for its innovative cookery courses), settle in for a fabulous feast of merguez lamb sausages, roasted heritage carrots, homemade labneh, platters laden with fiery chilli chicken wings, sticky barbecued pulled pork and Topsham ‘nduja. Wash it all down with a bottle of River Cottage Organic Freedom Lager to round off an easy-going West Country evening.
For over 90 years Johns of Instow has been providing delicious food and drink experiences to North Devon. Great-great-grandfather to Anthony Johns (the treasured Instow institution’s current co-owner) Dick Johns used to row across the estuary from Instow to Appledore, come rain or shine, to deliver provisions. What grew from his daily deliveries was an award-winning family business that now boasts two waterfront locations and a beach shack. Follow in Dick’s deck shoes and hire a boat across the estuary, with a pre-packed hamper bursting with Devonshire delights. Splash out on their luxury hamper that contains a dressed local Devonshire crab, hot smoked trout pâté and Sharpham Brie. Alternatively, pop into the store and go nuts for their fresh-baked raspberry and almond tart or French toast slathered in homemade fruit compote and drizzled with warm maple syrup. Just a short ramble away and overlooking the quayside, The Anchorage is a seven-bedroom period home filled with maritime touches such as porthole windows. Gather up the clan (the gorgeous home sleeps 15) for lazy days spent relaxing in the hot tub, firing up the barbecue or sipping local gins on your balcony: try Papillon, a small-batch gin distilled in Dartmoor.
Frequently voted the UK’s favourite seaside town, Salcombe is charming, smart and the undisputed Queen of the South Coast. Pastel-coloured houses tumble towards the sparkling waterfront, stretches of sweeping sands frame the Kingsbridge Estuary and a network of winding streets conceal chic boutiques that wouldn’t look out of place on Portobello Road. At the heart of the pretty town lies The Salcombe Deli, whose owners have plundered the area’s top farms to showcase the very best of its produce. Inside, you’ll find stuffed golden pasties, stacks of chunky chilli chutneys and cheese counters chockablock with locally produced delights – the Devon Blue from the Ticklemore Cheese Dairy is highly recommended. No trip to Salcombe’s seaside would be complete without sampling a fresh crab sandwich. The Salcombe Deli’s are some of the best, with the crab meat coming fresh every morning from local fishing boats that have been trawling these waters for over 40 years. Bed down at neighbouring Court Barton Farm. Just a short drive away and hidden in a valley that runs down to the biscuit-coloured shores at Thurlestone Sands, the three-bedroom 19th-century cottage is ideally positioned to enjoy the thriving seaside town and its many coastal and countryside walks.
Discover Devon’s wild side with a getaway to Dartmoor National Park, home to wooded valleys, bubbling brooks and quaint hamlets dotted along the riverbanks. Geared up to suit active travellers, Dartmoor National Park covers 954 sq km, boasting plenty of rugged landscape to hike, cycle and climb. Best suited for those looking for a romantic break, The Cedars is situated above a working smallholding with cosy wood burners, fresh eggs available on site and moorland treks just outside your window. Located 10km from the cosy bungalow, Riverford Organic Farms make it super-easy to have seasonal fruit and veg delivered straight to your door. What started as one man and a wheelbarrow delivering produce to 30 friends in Devon has become a fruit and veg empire – Riverford now packages up and delivers boxes to over 47,000 homes across the UK. If you can’t tear yourself away from your homely dwellings at The Cedars, then simply log on to have a box of goodies sent out. Or, take a ramble down to the Farm Shop to hand-select the produce. While you’re there, book onto a Riverford Farm walk, where you can pick, sample and taste some of the crops straight from the ground, then settle in for supper at the Riverford Field Kitchen, where veggies are the star of every plate.
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