5 things to do in Devon in winter
In the deep midwinter, it’s so easy to spend days indoors, sheltering from the weather, never going far – a 21st century hibernation.
But on those quiet days between Christmas and New Year or to cheer myself when January rolls around, I’ve discovered it’s an unexpectedly wonderful time to explore the UK – wrapped up warm, under pale gold and blue winter skies, to roam the coast and the countryside and uncover the less well-known temptations.
Last year took us to the border of Essex and Suffolk, but Devon is always one of my favourite counties for a quick break – especially without the crowds of summer. I’ve already come up with a list of 30 things to do in Devon with kids including attractions which are ideal for winter, plus nine free days out and ideas of what to do in Devon when it rains.
So to complete the set, here are my top five things to do in Devon in winter.
1. Take a winter walk
Whichever coast you’re staying on, there’ll be walks galore – the stretch to Watersmeet on Exmoor has been called one of Britain’s Great Winter Walks, with the dramatic river valley and thick ancient forest. There’s a National Trust tea room or warm up in the remote 17th century Rockford Inn pub.
For an easier wander that’s great for families, you could spot seals on the National Trust’s Baggy Point easy access walk and it’s a perfect place to gaze out to sea.
2. Hit the beach
Sunbathing might be off the cards, but the endless long stretches of sand are still perfect for building sandcastles, flying kites, rockpooling or simply running at full pelt to blow away the cobwebs. Woolacombe ticks all four boxes nicely, but you won’t be short of options.
For the really daring, the county’s wild swimmers head into the waves off Tinside Beach, Plymouth year-round, while winter surfing has become something of a trend on the beaches of North Devon. It goes without saying to check the weather conditions and make sure you’ve got the proper gear. I think I’ll stick to dry land until summer…
3. See the illuminations
Plan ahead for this as, unsurprisingly, most of Devon’s festive illuminations are all done and packed away by New Year – but Devon has some spectacular ones. Coleton Aglow at Coleton Fishacre has a 20s theme this year, or check out the winter wonderland at Knightshayes.
Killerton also has a Christmas trail that’s lit after dark while RHS Rosemoor has its own Glow garden event until January plus a winter sculpture trail until February.
4. Add some spice
Nothing beats a warming drink after a chilly day – so how about mulled chilli apple juice at the South Devon Chilli Farm in December, as well as chilli hot chocolate and chilli jam for your cream tea at the café?
There’s also a play area for kids, mini tours in school holidays, and other options to see and learn more about the chillis grown there at different points of the year. Plus plenty to taste… depending how brave you are!
5. Curl up by a log fire
The cosiest end to a winter’s day exploring has to be coming back to a roaring log fire or wood burner – which means one of the fabulous cosy cottages which Devon seems to specialise in.
Marsdens Devon Cottages has a whole luxury collection – after all, this is supposed to be a treat – including plenty with an open fire to snuggle next to. Or you could always go for one with a hot tub… or both. I rather love the look of The Roost on the north Devon coast for a quirky stay with style.
What better way to brighten the winter?
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Compiled in association with Marsdens Devon Cottages*
Watersmeet image: acceleratorhams; all other images courtesy Pixabay
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