Located in the far south west of the UK on a peninsula reaching out towards the wild Atlantic Ocean, are the counties of Devon and Cornwall. A mix of rolling moors, farmland and dramtic coastline, this is England at its most charming.
Devon may be the further inland of the two, but it still lays claim to two separate coastlines – the Bristol Channel and Celtic Sea to the north and the English Channel to the south. With agriculture an important industry, much of the landscape is a patchwork of green fields divided by neater-than-neat hedgerows.
Devon also has two national parks – Exmoor characterised by rolling moorland and dramatic sea cliffs, and Dartmoor, a vast wild landscape dotted with archaeoligcal ruins. While this is definitely one of England‘s more rural areas, Devon also has its share of towns and cities to explore, including Exeter with its magnificent cathedral and Plymouth, a city steeped in maritime history.
Jutting even further out into the ocean and almost severed from Devon by the River Tamar, Cornwall has always felt further away that it is. People are fiercely proud of their Celtic identity and you’ll see the iconic black and white Cornish flag fluttering outside houses and the word Kernow, the Cornish name for their homeland, on everything from road signs to beer labels.
You are never more than 20 miles from the sea in Cornwall, and the coastline itself seems to change in the blink of an eye. In a single walk you can pass golden sandy beaches, hidden coves and rocky headlands where waves crash and froth below. Picturesque fishing ports are peppered along the shore, which goes a long way in explaining the thriving food scene in this part of the UK.
Whether you’re dining in a high-end restaurant, devouring fish and chips with lashing of salt and vinegar on the beach, or tucking into a cream tea you can’t really go wrong eating in Cornwall. There are also vineyards producing world-class sparkling wine and fine ales and bitters from local breweries.
Across both Devon and Cornwall there are magnificent castles, stately homes and beautiful gardens to discover, and lovers of the great outdoors may want to walk part of the South West Coast Path, which covers 630 miles of glorious coastline across both counties.
There is something special about Cornwall that sets it apart from the rest of England. Its Celtic language and quirky coastal villages are unique. Not forgetting Devon too, which has some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the country, perfect for an energetic hike!
What to do
- Explore castles and stately homes
- Discover Cornwall's beautiful gardens
- Walk a section of the South West Coast Path
- Visit the dramatic Minack Theatre in the far south of Cornwall
- Hike in Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks
- Visit St Michael's Mount
When to go
Devon and Cornwall are popular destinations for domestic tourism, so to try and avoid the crowds we suggest visiting in the spring and early summer, or autumn. The weather can be unpredictable in the UK so be prepared for showers whenever you visit, but spring and autumn tend to be bright and sunny. Cornwall also has a slightly warmer climate than the rest of the UK.