Devon heaven: what’s new this summer

{ Posted on by }
Categories : Travel news


The Magdalen Chapter, Exeter

There's a buzz about Exeter right now, with new shops opening (Cath Kidston, Hollister, John Lewis coming in October) and new restaurants (Bill's, Cote opening this month). Last month a grand hotel opened in a 19th-century building that was once an eye hospital. The Magdalen Chapter's 59 rooms have iPads and free minibars, and the restaurant is overseen by Simon Hopkinson. There's a proper library with 750 books, and a Ren spa in the walled garden. If you prefer a smaller hotel, Southernhay House (01392 439000, is a beautifully restored Georgian townhouse with 10 bedrooms that opened last year.
• 01392 281000,, doubles from ?150 a night B&B at both hotels

Pop-up hotel at River Cottage, Axminster

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's HQ in Axminster hosts a multitude of cookery courses and foodie events, but visitors have never been able to sleep on site – until now. The Pop-up Hotel has pitched up in front of the farmhouse, offering high-spec glamping with boutique hotel service. So the bell tents have wooden deck floors, double beds and LED lights, and you can order room service or eat at the pop-up restaurant. River Cottage cookery courses can be booked separately – two new ones are Fish Bites and Pizza Bites, which include a guided foraging trip around the farm and kitchen garden.
• From ?495 for a three-night weekend break for two, until 9 September (0845 625 0767, Three-hour "Bites" course ?50 (01297 630302,, one child can join each paying adult for free)

A couple of gorgeous self-catering barn conversions are newly available with Holiday Lettings on Upcott Farm in Georgeham, Croyde. The Calfshed (01271 816009, has head-to-toe Daz-white interiors – apart from a couple of black cushions and the toaster. It sleeps four in two bedrooms, from ?600-?1,250 a week, or ?86 a night (short stays welcome), and has a shared garden with trampoline. The Lambshed ( is similarly styled, with white pews and retro chrome lights, but sleeps six, from ?800-?1,600 a week, or ?114 a night.

The Lazy Toad inn, near Exeter

On the banks of the River Exe in the village of Brampford Speke, the Lazy Toad, a lovely white-washed cottage, offers homegrown, home-reared and home-smoked produce. Dishes include thinly sliced Red Ruby Devon ox tongue with Russian salad, roast Newlyn hake, or pig's head three ways, followed by elderflower and vanilla pannacotta with gooseberry custard, or pear and frangipane tart with pecan nut sauce.

A small flock of Black Welsh mountain sheep keep the grass short in summer and feed the diners in winter. In March, the restaurant added three rooms, one calm and neutral, one traditional cosy, one with fashionable wallpaper and zebra rug.
• 01392 841591,, dinner bed and breakfast from ?80 single occupancy, ?125 for two


The Westward Arms, Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! (the only place in Britain with an exclamation mark in its name), is a seaside village near Bideford with a three-mile-long sandy beach and decent surf. Last month a new pub/restaurant opened on the bay, serving simple food (River Exe mussels, pies and steaks) and local ales on tables overlooking the sea. It opens at 9am every day, so it's a great spot for breakfast after an early-morning walk along the beach.
• Latitude 51, 01237 476527,

Fishy things, Brixham
Crab Quay House, Brixham

Crab Quay House (01803 858120, is another new restaurant in a fantastic location, right on Brixham harbour. Diners can take a tour of the fish market before tucking into seafood fresh from the boats, then buy fishy treats to take home from the Crab Quay Deli. Time your visit to coincide with the Fishstock festival and you can enjoy live bands with your fish.
• Market tours ?8 including breakfast, see Fishstock is on 8 September (


Words By The Sea, Budleigh Salterton

Budleigh Salterton sounds like somewhere Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha would have gone on holiday. For the name alone, it's worth a visit, but if you need further enticement, how about the town's literary festival? Words By The Sea attracts big names but keeps ticket prices low. This year it boasts novelist Hilary Mantel (Budleigh resident and festival president), Joan Bakewell, poet Wendy Cope and playwright and novelist Michael Frayn among others.
• 21-23 September,, tickets from ?7.50

Start growing your moustache now, and you could have a Poirot number ready in time for the annual Agatha Christie festival in Torquay and other spots on the English Riviera. As well as solving murders, you can ride Barnaby, a 1947 vintage bus, to Greenway, the queen of crime's home, take dinner aboard a steam train, go to tea parties and follow a literary trail.
• 9-16 September,


Fossil hunting, Branscombe

Bulstone Hotel near Sidmouth is a good option for families: it offers two-bedroom suites with bunk beds and a cot in the kids' room, a playroom, an adults' lounge and kitchen for making packed lunches. This summer it has teamed up with Lyme Regis Fossil Walks to offer Walk with Dinosaurs packages, which include a fossil hunt along Lyme Bay.
• From ?274 for two nights for a family of four, including breakfast, high tea for children and three-course dinner for adults, and a two-hour fossil hunt (01297 680446,

Wildlife trips, Dartmouth

Monty Halls, a TV marine biologist, is now running wildlife excursions from his Great Escapes shop in Dartmouth. They include guided shore walks, boat trips, diving, foraging and surfing. The Ultimate Taste of Devon (?50) combines the first two, and concludes with a feast of freshly baked bread, local crab, cheese, fruit, veg, pickles and preserves, and a cream tea.
• 01803 431858,, from ?10 for an hour-long walk to ?100 for a day's foraging and surfing

Ben Brierley's new kayak school, with five launch sites on the south Devon coast, runs taster trips for all levels, including beginners and children, and longer expeditions with either wild camping or B&B stays. Even on a day trip you can visit otherwise inaccessible parts of the coast, paddle into caves, and picnic on remote beaches.
• 01392 580535,, ?45 for a half-day session


Art, Great Torrington
Rosemoor hosts the Quentin Blake exhibition

There's still chance to catch the Quentin Blake exhibition at the Royal Horticultural Society's Rosemoor garden (01805 624067,, which runs until 27 August, with original works from his The Green Ship book, and watercolours from Roald Dahl's My Year, plus sets from three other collections.

Surf museum, Braunton

People have enjoyed surfing in north Devon since the early 1900s, and the village of Braunton became a surfers' hub in the 1960s. It's a fitting location, then, for the Museum of British Surfing, which opened in April. The museum houses more than 200 boards dating back a century, including the disturbing "coffin lid" from 1920, plus temporary exhibitions.
• 01271 815155, museumofbritish, ?4 adults, ?2.75 children

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter

The RAMM – which opened last December and has since won the Art Fund prize for museum of the year in 2012 – features collections of fine art, costume and textiles, local and foreign archaeology, decorative arts, local history, world cultures, zoology, geology, botany and conservation ... there's not much missing.
• 01392 265858,


If you're planning a trip to Exmoor before 31 October, make sure you stock up on Exmoor Guineas before you go. This new "currency" entitles you to discounts at all sorts of attractions, from 20% off an hour's horse ride to money off hotels and free bottles of wine at restaurants. Simply print out the guineas, download them to your smartphone or pick them up from national park centres in Dulverton, Dunster and Lynmouth.
• See for details

Related posts

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.