Dartmoor and Exmoor
For a bracing walk, strap on your walking boots and head to higher ground at one of Devon’s two National Parks. Bracken, moss and other low-lying plants create a pallet of copper, russet and sienna on Dartmoor in autumn. A fantastic time to explore the moor, venture to any one of the rocky hilltop tors for a guaranteed stunning panorama. Haytor is easily found and very popular. The visitors’ centre has lots of useful information. For somewhere a little less busy, try Bonehill Rocks near Newton Abbot, or Foggintor Quarry at Yelverton. It’s common to encounter the semi-wild ponies that inhabit the moor, their coats blending in with the colours of the season.
Harder to spot are the famous red deer of Exmoor. Autumn is the time to hear the ‘bolving’ of the male deer, bellowing out their mating calls as the rut takes place, with stags vying for the attention of local females. There are about three thousand deer on Exmoor, living on moorland and farmland, and using the woodlands for cover. You can take a deer-spotting safari for a better chance of spotting these elusive beasts.
Beaches – heaven for dog-walkers and surfers
Autumn is a great time to visit Devon’s beaches, especially if you own a dog. The south-west’s most popular beaches tend not to be dog-friendly in the summer, but throughout the autumn and winter, many beaches that are usually off-limits to our canine friends open up for walkies. Devon has a huge variety of beaches on offer, from miles of sand at Exmouth and on the North coast to the pebbles of Sidmouth and Branscombe. For dog-walking, we recommend Orcombe point at Exmouth, the start of the Jurassic Coast, where, while Fido runs wild with his doggy chums, you can examine the rusty-coloured layers of the earth’s history laid down in the rocks backing the beach. Check which beaches are dog-friendly.
Due to greater weather activity over the Atlantic, waves in the south west increase in size and vigour in autumn, but the sea hasn’t yet chilled down too much, so it’s renowned in Devon as being the best season for surfing. Thrill-seekers head to North Devon for the really big stuff, with Woolacombe and Croyde being firm favourites. Even if you’re not brave enough to take to the waves, it’s exhilarating just watching these dare devils enjoying the ride.
Stately Homes with Seasonal Views
The wider estate at Killerton really comes into its own in autumn. Whilst the formal gardens are beautiful any time of the year, walking through parkland is a veritable autumn treat. Park at Ellerhayes Bridge and walk up to The Plains to take in the majesty of the mature trees growing there. Wander back down through the woods, spying birds and squirrels as you go. You can fill your pockets with sweet chestnuts and fungi is prolific at this time of year. They even run ‘fungi forays’ for would-be foragers. In the open areas of the park, you’re likely to meet the shaggy, inquisitive highland cattle that are bred on the estate.
For a decent walk and some stunning scenery in North Dartmoor, venture to where the River Teign flows down through mixed woodland towards the coast. The best place from which to explore the area is Castle Drogo near Drewsteignton. From the castle car park, you can take the scenic path which starts at the top of the valley and takes you down through the ancient woodlands of the Teign Gorge. Enjoy your eagle-eye view of the autumn patterns that line the opposite side of the valley. At the pretty Fingle Bridge Inn, cross over the river and turn back up the Teign to return to where you started.
Forest Glade in Autumn
Being on the edge of the Blackdown Hills, we’re completely surrounded by trees. The park is often bathed in golden light during autumn and our later guests can enjoy walks through the turning leaves.
We’d love to hear about your favourite parts of Devon in autumn. Email us: [email protected].
Please be aware that due to Covid restrictions, some properties may not be open at the time of your visit, so be sure to check ahead of time.