Discover the magic of Devon and Cornwall

Sunset in Dartmoor National Park | Anna Curnow
Sunset in Dartmoor National Park | Anna Curnow

Discover the magic of Devon and Cornwall

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Shrouded in centuries of myths and legends, the idyllic southwest edge of England is a well-kept secret. Beyond the bustling metropolis of London is a treasure trove hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Wind-swept cliffs, thatched-roof cottages, majestic castle ruins and dramatic seascapes lend themselves to the magical stories of King Arthur, Lady Guinevere and Camelot. Grab your keys and head to the coastal counties of Devon and Cornwall.

Devon

Home to Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, there is no shortage of outdoor activities. Lush, green forests provide plentiful hiking trails. If you’ve been missing the surf scene, be sure to check out Bideford Bay or Harland Point. These Atlantic-facing peninsulas provide some of the best surfing swells in the U.K. Take a drive farther south and explore the impressive Tintagel Castle. Believed to be the birthplace of King Arthur, these ruins are precariously perched on the cliffs above the ocean. If the tide is out, walk beneath the castle to Merlin’s Cave. This 330-foot cave is said to be the home of the legendary mighty wizard.

With strong maritime roots, it’s no wonder great explorers such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh come from Devon. Other notable artists, including writer Agatha Christie, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and British rockers Muse, also hail from here. More controversially, Devon claims to be the origin of one of Britain’s favorite afternoon snacks – the cream tea. Warm scones slathered with local jam and fresh clotted cream served with a fresh pot of tea are a staple found in bakeries and tea rooms not just here but around the country.


Sunset on Bobby's Bay in Cornwall | Photo by Helen Hotson

Cornwall

One of the most isolated locations in the U.K., Cornwall sits on the southwesternmost point of England. Long-distance hikers often begin or end a rigorous cross-country trek (known as John O’Groats to Land’s End or reverse) at Land’s End, on the tip of the peninsula. Colorful resort beach towns such as St. Ives, Newquay, Newlyn and Penzance dot the sandy landscape. Travel along the southern route and discover St. Michael’s Mount. Nearly identical (though not quite as large) to Mont Saint-Michel, visitors can view the exquisite fortress and castle which has remained in the same family since the 17th century.

A bit farther west is a hidden gem – Trebah Garden and Polwiggden Cove. Trebah Garden is a dazzling display of seasonal, sub-tropical horticulture. Overflowing with vibrant rhododendrons, hydrangeas, magnolias and more, visitors are whisked into a floral wonderland. After you’ve stopped and smelled the flowers, venture down the path to Polwiggden Cove. This unassuming beach served as an embarkation point for the 29th US Infantry Unit during the D-Day landings at Omaha Beach.

With plenty of legend and lore, Devon and Cornwall should be a must-visit on your U.K. bucket list.
 

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