There is nowhere quite like the county of Devon anywhere in the UK. You probably already know the clichés: a slow pace of life, clotted cream and tractors. Crooked roads, lovely beaches and place names you can’t pronounce. These are the stuff of legend, not to mention various Devon jokes; but we wouldn't have it any other way. Here are ten classic features of the real Devon...
1. Winding country roads
Devon has more miles of winding, dishevelled country lanes than any other English county. Expect twists and turns galore, and possibly grass and daisies growing down the middle. Rather than curse the satnav though, just take it easy and breathe it all in. There is no rush here and our hedgerows and meadows are full of wildlife.
2. Devon dialect and local slang
The Devon accent is famously laid back and occasionally hard to understand, innem’ bay (“isn’t it so, my friend?”). But have you conversed with a true local? Telltale signs include polite nodding and replies of “mmm, yes” to hide the fact you understood about one word in three.
Should you wish to learn the lingo, however, there are some belting bits of Devon slang to take home with you. An “oggie” is another name for a pastie, while a “spadger” is a sparrow. “Gurt” means great or big (as in a “gurt beg fish”) while visiting holidaymakers are affectionately known as “grockles”.
3. The quaintest of villages
While England is a country of large towns and cities on the whole, Devon is mostly made up of smaller market towns and some truly tiny villages. You know these places: a tiny, close-nit community. Just a church and a single pub. Thatched rooves and the feeling that, in the best possible sense, it could still be 1967. They are often super cute too, while our next point also applies…
4. Amazingly friendly locals
For all the clichés about the people of Devon, one thing you have to say is that they are friendly. City slickers are often baffled at how many total strangers will say hello. You might even blush as someone refers to you as “moi lover” or “me ‘andsome”. Nevertheless, our laidback friendliness remains one of the county’s greatest unsung qualities. Perhaps this is also one of the main reasons visitors wished they lived in Devon?
5. Landscape up and down like a yo-yo
While neighbouring Somerset is largely flat as a pancake, Devon has more slopes than the Alps (Lynmouth, not too far from us, is literally nicknamed “Little Switzerland”). It’s no wonder we all have strong legs here. The fine views more than make up for any extra effort though.
6. "Proper" Devon ales and farmhouse ciders
Long before the current craft booze revolution, Devon was home to some “right’ viddy” (“really rather good”) ales and ciders. Bays and Otter are two of our finest Devon beer makers, while the county is even better known for authentic farmhouse cider or “scrumpy”. Often sold directly ("dreckly") from farms, it's delicious stuff. Just be warned, it can also be lethally strong.
7. Hilarious place names
As if all the tiny roads, steep hills and confusing local slang weren’t confusing enough, Devon has some of the weirdest place names in the UK. Take a trip to Beer or Broadwoodwidger, pass through Nomansland or snigger as you pass Crapstone, Chipshop or Splatt. Then take a quick selfie as the locals shake their heads knowingly.
8. Wild spaces and seclusion
Whether it’s a remote Dartmoor trail or a “secret” beach only accessible by a long, steep walk, one of Devon’s greatest charms is its sense of peace and quiet. Indeed, even in the busy season, you can use your feet to find solitude. There might be no phone signal in places, but that's fine with us because most tweets in Devon are made by birds.
Devon has more beautiful beaches than you could visit in an entire month (pictured: Croyde Bay)
9. Amazing beaches
Ok, so every tourist board tends to fight over who has the best beaches. Devon visitors tend to vote with their feet! No poll of the nation’s top beaches would be complete without a strong showing from Devon- and on more than one occasion Woolacombe has been crowned as the UK’s best beach. That said, there are literally hundreds of beaches of all kinds to discover, including some truly wild and unsung gems (and our recent blog on dog friendly North Devon has some good recommendations for pet owners).
10. Devonian creatures
The return of Tarka: otters have made a big comeback on the Exe and other rivers.
While it would be false to suggest that cows and sheep outnumber people in Devon (they possibly did in about 1957), we are a county full of both farmed and wild animals. We have a crazy number of animal themed visitor attractions, while the region also has several iconic creatures from Dartmoor ponies to Exe otters and the wild goats of Lynton (we “kid” you not!). Our previous blog on Devon wildlife has some ideal locations and species to spot.
Enjoy the best of Devon at Woolacombe Bay Hotel
With a wonderful location right by the beach, along with excellent locally-sourced food and drink, and the warmest welcome in North Devon, Woolacombe Bay Hotel is ideal for relaxing breaks in the Westcountry. Whether you are looking for some quality time for two, or a great family holiday on the coast we have both great hotel rooms and self-catering holiday lets. See the main site for further details, or check out our offers section and Facebook page for the latest news, hotel deals and more.