Manaton is ideally located for exploring the vast and varied Dartmoor landscape, or simply relaxing and enjoying the view from the window whilst cosied up in front of a log fire.
The small village of Manaton, nestled deep within Dartmoor National Park, is ideally located for exploring the vast and varied landscape of the moors - from the remote barren beauty of the higher moorland to the rivers rushing through deep wooded valleys and rolling countryside.
Dartmoor is a haven for walkers and cyclists due to the abundance of footpaths and cycle routes that snake the moors, offering endless opportunities to get outside and reconnect with nature. Picturesque villages and hamlets are scattered across the rural landscape, offering unusual shops, museums, old churches, cosy pubs, restaurants serving delicious local delicacies, art galleries and craft workshops.
Manaton village itself boasts a church, shop, pub, and also the local landmark, Manaton rocks,famed for its much-photographed formation 'The Bowerman's Nose'. Manaton lies just a stone's throw from the beautiful Becky Falls, which makes for an excellent family or dog-friendly day out. Other nearby attractions include the Miniature Pony Centre, the House of Marbles, and the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, a converted Riverside Mill where you can watch jewellery, sculpture, prints, glass and textiles being created, and enjoy the spacious gallery, shop and Terrace Café.
The stunning Teign valley and the coast at Teignmouth and Dawlish are also within easy reach of the village, and the Cathedral City of Exeter is just 40 minutes away by car.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing rural retreat, or an energising action-packed break, a holiday cottage in Manaton provides the perfect base for a Dartmoor holiday.
For those looking to bring a little extra excitement to their South Devon holiday, Go Ape in Exeter, with its views over Dartmoor National Park, is something of an adventure playground. Complete with zip wires and tree top adventures – you may be interested to know that it’s the first of its kind in the South West. Leap off Tarzan swings and tackle the high ropes in one of the most beautiful forests in the country or head off on a bike or walk and enjoy the scenery. Think tunnels, bridges and ropes, all suitable for guests aged 10 years of age and over and a minimum of 1.4 metres tall. Anyone aged 16 and over is able to supervise themselves, but younger children will need to be accompanied by an adult. Some attractions have other age and weight restrictions so for full details take a peek at the website. Prices start at £18 for ‘Mini Tarzans’ and go up to £45 per person depending on your activity.
In an exceptionally beautiful attraction, Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterflies is a friendly place to visit for the whole family while you’re on holiday in South Devon. Learn about tropical butterflies in their specially designed habitat, feel the rainforest atmosphere, and see the butterflies’ life cycle unfold. Over at the Otter Sanctuary there are three species of otter to see including the native British otter, the Asian short clawed otter, and the North American river otter. The sanctuary is also home to terrapins, leafcutter ants, and reptiles with lots of events available to see throughout the year, including feeding time with the otters! It is located just outside the southern border of Dartmoor National Park between Exeter and Plymouth, there’s free parking, a café, picnic areas and lots to see and learn, all while supporting the wonderful work of a team who strive to preserve the wildlife of the planet and ensure sustainable breeding and rehabilitation of otters and butterflies. Opening times are seasonal to keep an eye on the website for more information.
A wonderfully traditional West Country attraction, The South Devon Railway (SDR) is a seven-mile former branch of the Great Western Railway from 1872. Running through the valley of the River Dart from Buckfastleigh to Totnes you can board a steam train with heritage rolling stock whatever the weather and whatever age you are. Dogs are welcome on the train for a nominal charge and seasonal charges vary. Step up the luxury on a dining train, or for really special occasions there are options to drive a train for a day or hire one for private events. While you’re there, other attractions close by include the Totnes Rare Breeds Farm and Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterflies, to really make a day of it.
Offering indoor and outdoor rock climbing in Devon and Cornwall, Dart Rock Climbing Centre in Buckfastleigh offers a friendly and encouraging environment to practice a skill you have already mastered, or to learn something new while you’re there. The 10-metre high climbing centre offers a diverse range of routes on four climbing walls, training boards, teaching areas and in the classroom so that you get the most out of your session, and caters to beginners, experienced climbers, families and groups. The centre is open daily but with some restrictions for private classes at the weekends and prices vary according to your requirements. Remember to wear comfortable and practical clothing and trainers.
If you have spent any time in South Devon before, chances are you’ve heard of Pennywell Farm. A petting zoo taken to another level, you can visit with the family for piggy cuddles, egg collecting, goat milking, bottle feeding orphan lambs, seed planting for home grown souvenirs, treasure hunts, pond dipping, pony pampering and deer feeding amongst other things from 10am to 5pm seven days a week. There are a variety of ticket options available and children under the age of three go for free. There’s a number of options for eating while you’re there from the coffee cabin, to Henny Penny café, ice creams and picnic tables in the summer. They have won numerous awards and for anyone on holiday with the dog they have a kennel on site which is free of charge while you potter about – just remember to bring their bed and water bowl.
A pretty, thatched pub dating back to the 15th century with cottage garden and a traditional snug bar with exposed beams and log fire. The light and airy restaurant serves high quality food using fresh local ingredients at affordable prices, including vegetarian and children’s options.
A fabulous little farm shop and cafe. We stopped here for lunch when we arrived and breakfast during the week. We picked up all our meat from the onsite butcher, but there seemed less choice in the shop compared with our visit last year.
A sympathetically refurbished hotel in the heart of this small moorland town, with a restaurant championing fresh, local and seasonal produce. Traditional cream teas are served in the relaxing, sofa filled lounge.
Soak up the atmosphere in this friendly and welcoming pub in the heart of Dartmoor National Park with its leather sofas and roaring fires, light and airy courtyard restaurant, delicious award winning food and a fine selection of Devon ales, ciders and wines from around the world.
The Horse 7 George Street, Mortonhampstead, Newton Abbot TQ13 8PG (T: 01647 440242)
Exmouth Beach is a bustling two mile stretch of golden sand at the mouth of the Exe Estuary backed by a promenade of shops and restaurants. Old meets new here, with traditional seaside donkey rides, swing boats and crazy golf alongside volley ball courts and a huge selection of modern watersports including jet skis, kite surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing.
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet you can find that here too at the far end of the beach, where there are also some rock pools for children to explore. Exmouth is known as the gateway to the Jurassic Coast and its cliffs are teaming with fossils and geological finds. The coastline is also part of the South West Coast Path with the beach and surrounding cliffs providing some excellent long and short walks.
Dogs are welcome all year on parts of the beach and on the main beach from October to the end of April. Dog bins are provided.
A picturesque two mile pebble beach backed partly with cliffs, with plenty of space and lovely clean clear water. Along the esplanade there are beach cafes and a car park and it is only a short wander into the village for toilets, shops and pubs. Care should be taken swimming towards the eastern end of the beach where there can be strong currents due to the River Otter, and there are no lifeguard facilities.
In an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Wonwell is a sandy beach on the east shore of the Erme river which joins Mothecombe at low tide. It affords visitors a large expanse to explore and is accessed via a woodland path from the road which takes about 10 minutes.
Alternatively, there is a slipway from the road to the shore of the river and at low tide you can walk along the edge to the beach itself, so make sure you get your timings right to make the most of this one.
Parking is limited at Wonwell Beach so keep that in mind when you’re heading over. Road parking allows for around 20 cars depending on their size and there aren’t really any facilities around, although there are toilets nearby. This does mean you need to be prepared if you’re heading there for the best part of the day, but also makes for a very peaceful experience whether it’s lounging about on the sand with a picnic in the summer, or a stroll in the cooler months, simply taking in the atmosphere.
Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round so it’s the perfect place to take them for a run around. Something to be careful of – do keep an eye on the tide to avoid getting cut off when it comes in and getting very wet en route back to dry land!
Roughly one kilometre (20 minutes depending on your pace) from the National Trust car park at Ringmore, and with a selection of footpaths to get to it, Ayrmer Cove is a quiet secluded beach on the South West Coast Path.
For anyone on holiday in South Devon it’s a peaceful place to sit and contemplate the natural scenery amongst the shingle, pebbles and rock pools, admiring the cliffs. It makes for a beautiful destination to walk to from Ringmore itself, which is a small village (population 230) with views towards the cove itself as well as Bigbury Bay – it makes for a wonderful holiday cottage destination in South Devon as well as a place to visit as part of your day.
Walking to the beach allows you to discover the surrounding woodland, wildlife and history of the area – taking in old smugglers’ routes and hedgerows that have been in situ since the 1800s.
It is a little tricky to get to so it’s not ideal for wheelchairs, and there aren’t any toilets or facilities at the beach itself so if you want to stay for a little while don’t forget to take snacks or a picnic if the weather is right. This is all about enjoying the environment that’s such a proud part of the National Trust – it’s everything a holiday in Devon is about, and yes, dogs are permitted all year round and will very much enjoy the walk!
One of South Devon’s quieter beaches, Mothecombe is a large and unspoiled, privately owned stretch of sand that’s open to the public on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Having won an award from the Marine Conservation Society for its clean sea and sand, you can be assured that relaxing here and pottering about in the water is going to be a happy, healthy and pleasant experience for all in this sheltered corner of Devon. For those wanting to try out water sports, Mothecombe offers the ideal conditions for windsurfing, kayaking, body boarding and generally enjoying the water, particularly for beginners as it’s a comparatively gentle environment in which to give it a go. Given its pristine nature, it will probably come as no surprise that dogs are not allowed on the beach in high season, so keep an eye out for signs for more information, but best to steer clear with furry friends from May to September. There is a car park from which you can access the beach down a narrow path, so it’s not ideal for wheelchair users, but is otherwise conveniently close by. There’s also a tea house in the car park for drinks and snacks and there are toilets nearby as well, so pending the tides you can spend a good day here enjoying the natural scenery and all the fun that it brings with it, whether that’s for the whole family, on a romantic afternoon in the summer sun, or simply enjoying the peace and quiet of this less populated park of the coastline.