South West » County of Devon
The County of Devon (Devonshire), England, UK
Cathedral of Exeter

Devon or Devonshire is a county in the South-West of England. With its territory of more than 6700 square kilometers (2590 square miles) it is the 4th largest county in the country and one of the most popular UK tourist destinations, especially during the warm months of the year. The county is bordered by Dorset and Somerset from its eastern side, Cornwall - from its western side, while the English Channel washes its south coast and the Celtic Sea - its north coast. The population of Devon is over 1440000 people, making it the 11th most populous county in UK. Its administrative centre is the historic city of Exeter, known mostly for its splendid medieval Cathedral and remains of an 11th-century Norman castle. The largest city in the county is Plymouth, having population of over 250000. It is one of England's main shipping ports. Torquay is the county’s most popular seaside resort. The entire territory of Dartmoor National Park and a part of Exmoor National Park are both located in Devon. The Jurassic Coast, comprising part of the county's east coast is the UK’s only natural site, included in the UNESCO world heritage list for its remarkable geological and geographical characteristics.

Exmouth Beach, Devon South Coast

The earliest human remains in the region were found in the caves of Kents Cavern near Torquay. They date back to 40000 BC. In Dartmoor have been found evidence for people inhabited the area during the Mesolithic era - 6000 BC. The name "Devon" derives from the ancient people of Celtic origin that inhabited the region at the time the Romans conquered the island and formed the new empire's province of Britain (mid-1st century AD). The historic documents from the time tell us that the name of this people was Dumnonii and their land was called Dumnonia, which has later turned into Devon. Many scholars have tries to explain the Latin name Dumnonii. Some of them believe that it means "people who dwell in a deep valley", others - "people who worships a god called Dumnonos".

Geologically the larger part of the county - the one that lies west of the River Exe is part of the so called British higher land with more picturesque mountainous landscape, consisting mostly of metamorphic and igneous rocks. It includes the territory of the Dartmoor National Park. The area east of this river belongs to the Britain's lowlands, formed mainly by sedimentary rocks.

Devon boasts some of England's finest beaches and seaside resorts. The splendid coastline of the county has a length of over 482 km (300 miles) and is divided in two main regions: southern and northern. Over 60 outstanding sandy, cliff and pebble beaches await holiday makers on those two coastal areas.

Devon North Coast near Ilfracombe

The most excellent beaches on the southern coast are those of Torbay - a gorgeous south-east facing bay, also known as the English Riviera. This is a divine coastline with fine sand, pebble and shingle beaches, flanked by dramatic seafront cliffs, comprising the areas of three main cities and attractive seaside resorts: Paignton, Brixham and Torquay. Many of them have been rewarded with Blue Flag for cleanliness of their waters, eco-friendly environment, excellent leisure facilities and good safety. One of the most popular and large beaches on the English Riviera is the Torquay's Torre Abbey Sands. It features a wide stretch of coast with some of finest sand, perfect for castles made of sand and shallow waters – ideal for families with children. Lots of parking space can be found nearby and there is access for wheelchairs. Dogs and other pets are not allowed. A variety of pleasant cafés, shops and dining places are available right behind the beach. If you are looking for a more secluded and romantic beach, Anstey's Cove is your best choice. This is a picturesque small cove with a little shingle beach, located between Torquay and Babbacombe, framed by steep and very dramatic coastal cliffs, a favorite place for climbers and divers. It is known that the famous writer Agatha Christie loved this place.

One of the most attractive beaches on the south-east coast of Devon is Budleigh Salterton. It has no sand but very pleasant small muffin-shaped pebbles, flanked by the estuary of the Otter River to the west and picturesque red cliffs with rock pool to the east. The beach has the European Blue Flag Award. It is a favorite place for surfers too. The town of Dawlish boasts one of the best sandy beaches in the area. It is accessible for disabled people and within short walking from the town centre.

Croyde Bay

Bigbury-on-Sea has some of the most appealing sand and shingle beaches in the area of Devon South Hams. It is on the estuary of the River Avon, featuring ample parking space, access for wheelchairs, cafés and shops. Beautiful rocks backed the beach from the inland.

The north coast of Devon is a more rural region with secluded sandy beaches and dramatic sheer rocks. It is the perfect destination for surfers, especially its west part, which faces directly the Atlantic Ocean and the west-facing stretch of coast at Croyde. One of the most popular places for romantic couples and families with kids here is the Tunnels Beach of Ilfracombe. It is a beautiful rocky cove with a small sand and pebbles area and a shallow tidal pool, accessible via man-cut tunnels. Croyde Bay is the real UK surfing paradise. This is a beautiful sandy stretch of coast (800 m long) with amazing big dunes, facing west to the high waves of the Atlantic. Its north side is flanked by a huge rocky outcrop - the Baggy Point. It is just 500 m from the centre of Croyde - a romantic historic village, which can be a little crowded during the high summer season. The scenic Lynmouth Bay is the idea place for those who like beautiful nature and history.

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