Devon is home to two National Parks: Exmoor and Dartmoor. Situated on the Bristol Channel, Exmoor National Park consists of hilly moorland, wooded valleys, ravines and waterfalls and 34 miles of coastline. Rocky cliffs plunge into the sea; the highest, Great Hangman, drops 800 feet. Join an organized walk or cycle, climb, horseback ride or canoe in Exmoor. Exmoor’s larger sister, Dartmoor, sits in interior Devon. Among its rolling hills, eerie rock formations, bogs and waterfalls, you’ll find Neolithic stone circles and the biggest collection of Bronze Age structures in the United Kingdom. Climb 2, 040-foot High Willhays for spectacular views of the countryside. Walk among the ancient buildings, workshops and herb garden at Buckland Abbey, formerly a Cistercian monastery and onetime home of Sir Francis Drake. Or view the art collection inside the Benedictine Buckfast Abbey.
The English Riviera
Also known as Torbay, this 22-mile stretch of English Channel coastline boasts 20 beaches and coves. The Gulf Stream ushers in warm air, allowing palm trees and other subtropical foliage to flourish. Corals and seahorses live in an underwater nature reserve just offshore. The resort towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham are home to highly rated restaurants and hotels. Splash around the U.K.’s only outdoor water park at Goodrington Sands. Go waterskiing, kite surfing, scuba diving or sailing, or watch one of the many regattas each summer. Walk along the South West Coast Path for stunning views, including Berry Head, where you’ll also find rare plants and wildlife. Venture into Kent’s Cavern, an archaeological site in which the oldest anatomically correct human fossil in Europe was discovered.