The English countryside is nothing short of spectacular. It is a lush mosaic of green rolling meadows filled with fields of gold (rapeweed) and grazing cows and sheep. Add to that the rugged coastline with its breath-taking views and sandy beaches, and you have the makings of a splendid vacation. This is exactly how I would describe an area called Devon that I was recently able to visit.
3 Days in Heaven (aka, Devon)
I recently spent three days in Devon – Newton Ferrers, to be exact – staying at our friends’ cottage. This was my second trip to Devon, but first to this area. My husband and I were in London and took a train – one of my favorite ways to travel – from Paddington Station to Plymouth. It was three hours well spent.
While Devon is actually a vast area in the southwest corner of England, Newton Ferrers is one of its many southern coastal villages. It is quite small, with a population of just 1268 and sits on the River Yealm with easy access to the English Channel. To be exact, it has a co-operative grocer, pharmacy, butcher, post-office/store, yacht club, and – most importantly – three pubs.
What to Do in Devon England
There is certainly not a shortage of things to do in the area, especially for families. It is heaven for anyone who loves outdoor activities. It was quite amusing, however, that our activities were dictated by the tide. We took a small boat out on the River Yealm and watched all the young sailors joining us on the water when the tide was in. Then, we hiked through the Headlands and were in awe at both the rugged coastline and the inland beauty, coming face to face with grazing cattle, when the tide was out.
We also visited Buckland Abby, a National Trust Site, once owned by Sir Francis Drake, with it’s lovely museum, gardens, and farm. For those who don’t know, England is filled with National Trust Sites, which is a conservation charity set up to protect spaces and places and open them up to the public.
In the summer, I learned that the area is great for enjoying regattas, which our young sailors were practicing for at the end of June and a wide range of festivals, such as music and ballooning. But, of course, one of my favorite activities was doing nothing but enjoying the view from our patio!
Where to Eat
For meals, we picked up steaks and pasties at the local butcher shop and I mean local. All of the meat and fresh eggs were from his own animals and he made his own pasties, the equivalent of our pot pies. I was quite happy that among the selections were two vegetarian. I couldn’t help but think about the movie, Chicken Run, and one of the animated characters saying, “I don’t want to be a pie.”
If you want to dine out, you can choose one of the local pubs or head to the big city of Plymouth for more choices. We, of course, chose to eat at The Ship Inn, an upscale pub with farm to table dining, fresh seafood, and some of the best Sticky Toffee Pudding; a must try dessert!
It was quite unusual that my triathlete husband did not worry about training for a race. He has plantar fasciitis and is actually in a holding pattern and absolutely can’t run. So, hiking in the Headlands ended up being a perfect training activity for him.
One activity I did, much to the annoyance of my fellow travelers at times, was to test out my new Panasonic A500 Point-of-View Wearable Action Camera. As we rode on the River Yealm and walked through the Headlands, I captured our activities on video. While it took me just a bit of getting my “balance” worked out, I found it extremely easy to use, lightweight, and portable. More often than not, I chose not to wear the head attachment, but to just hold the camera in my hand and point and film. Seemed to work out fine for me.
Where to Stay in Devon England
There really did not seem to be a lot of options of places to stay close by Newton Ferrers. But, in Devon in general, if you don’t have someone to stay with, you can rent a cottage, stay in a hotel, choose a B & B, or even go camping. The first time I was in Devon, we stayed at Gidleigh Park, which is a luxury country house with a Michelin rated restaurant located within Dartmoor National Park. When I say hotels, many are county houses of varying degrees of luxury and not a typical hotel like you would find in the States. My friends have returned many, many times to Gidleigh Park and I would, too, in a heartbeat – if I lived closer!
Alas, the weekend had to come to an end. We drove back to our friends’ primary home in a lovely village outside of London and passed right by Stonehenge on the way. I couldn’t believe I had lived in London for several years, but had never seen Stonehenge. Not any more.
I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a three day weekend if I tried. Scrumptious food I don’t normally eat, boating on the River Yealm (just love writing that), and hiking along the rocky coast of the English Channel. Can you blame me?