Devon, United Kingdom

Today, surf’s up for a new generation of coastal devotees, keen to rediscover rural delights without abandoning urban expectations. And not just on the beach, either: Dartmoor, in all its ruggedly spartan glory, provides the county with a dramatic, windswept heart (perfect for walking, riding and cycling) that’s serviced by a swathe of picturesque villages. Gastronomically, Devon punches well above its weight, with clotted‑cream teas and a rich pantry of home‑grown produce – all readily proffered by an ever‑spreading spate of fine new restaurants keen to make the most of the fact that, on every level, Devon delivers.

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When to go

Think twice about the seaside resorts during school holidays unless you really <I>really</I> love kids.

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    Enjoy extras such as a picnic lunch, champagne or spa treatments, on the house

Getting there

  • Planes

    Your best bet in these parts is Exeter Airport: FlyBe (www.flybe.com) flies there from London, Manchester and Jersey.
  • Trains

    There are regular trains from London Paddington to Exeter and Plymouth with First Great Western (www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk); journeys take just over three hours. Virgin Trains (www.virgintrains.co.uk) also connects Plymouth to London, as well as other regional hubs such as Newcastle, Leeds and Glasgow.
  • Automobiles

    Drive from the London orbital to Exeter in under four hours (traffic permitting) on the A303. The M5 connects Devon to the north via Bristol (90 minutes) and Birmingham (three hours). A car is invaluable once there, for pootling along the coast or country‑lane cruising.
  • Taxis

    Even at train stations, it can be hard to find a cab, so book your pick‑ups ahead. Plymouth Taxis (+44 (0)1752 606060) is a licensed fleet of wheelchair‑friendly London cabs. In Tavistock, try Jay Cars (+44 (0)7860 298808).