Devon shares borders with Cornwall to the west and Dorset and Somerset to the east. Its south coast abuts the English Channel and its north coast the Bristol Channel.
Devon is the third largest of the English counties. Much of the county is rural, including Dartmoor National Park, the largest open space in southern England.
The main settlements in Devon are the cities of Plymouth, a historic port now administratively independent, Exeter, the county town, and Torbay, the county's tourist centre. Devon's coast is lined with tourist resorts, many of which grew rapidly with the arrival of the railways in the 19th century. Examples include Dawlish, Exmouth and Sidmouth on the south coast, and Ilfracombe and Lynmouth on the north. The Torbay conurbation of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham on the south coast is perhaps the largest and most popular of these resorts, and is now administratively independent of the county. Rural market towns in the county include Axminster, Barnstaple, Bideford, Honiton, Newton Abbot, Okehampton, Tavistock, Totnes and Tiverton.
Devon offers a rich and varied landscape. Largely rural, the county can broadly be subdivided into five main constituent parts:
A large amount of East Devon is made up of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty , East Devon and the Blackdown Hills. AONBs have the same level of protection as National parks of England and Wales which restricts new developments, which protects the natural beauty of this district.
The entire East Devon coastline from Exmouth to the border with Dorset is part of the designated World Heritage Site called the Jurassic Coast.
Towns: Axminster, Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Seaton, Sidmouth.
Main villages: Axmouth, Beer, Branscombe, Chardstock, Colyton, Dunkeswell, Gittisham, Hawkchurch, Kilmington, Lympstone, Newton Poppleford, Otterton, Smallridge, Stockland, Topsham, Tytherleigh, Uplyme.
Schools: Colyton Grammar, Harefield, Manor House, St John’s.
Communications: Roads running through East Devon include the A35 Dorchester to Honiton mainroad and also the A303 London to Exeter main road. There are mainline rail connections avilable to London Waterloo from Axminster and Honiton with train times of approximately 2 hour 45 mins. Exeter International Airport based at Clyst Honiton just outside Exeter operates scheduled and charter fights to a number of destinations in the UK and Europe.
Places of interest: Bicton Park, Cadhay, Shute Barton, Sand, Escot.
The hills, fertile valleys and woodlands found in Mid Devon teem are punctuated by farmland, quiet roads and traditional narrow, high banked Devon lanes. The Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty, which covers both Mid Devon and East Devon are one of the area's greatest gems. The hills offer unspolied natural beauty.
Towns: Tiverton, Cullompton, Crediton.
Main villages: Bampton, Bradninch, Bickleigh, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Eggesford, Puddington, Silverton, Thorverton, Witheridge.
Communications: M5 motorway (Junctions 27 and 28) and the A361 Barnstaple main road. The nearest mainline rail connections avilable to London Paddington are either from Tiverton or Crediton with journey times of just over 2 hours 30 mins.
Places of interest: Knightshayes, Killerton, Fursdon, Bickleigh Castle, Hemyock Castle and Tiverton Castle.
The area offers a combination of stunning landscapes, which includes a coastline of spectacular cliffs, coves and sandy beaches together with moorland, river valleys and rolling hills.
Towns: Barnstaple, Bideford, Braunton, Fremington, Ilfracombe, Instow, South Molton, Lynton and Lynmouth.
Villages: Appledore, Berrynarbor, Braunton, Buckland Brewer, Clovelly, Combe Martin, Croyde, Dolton, Fremington, Georgeham, Great Torrington, Hartland, Hele Bay, Holsworthy, Kentisbury, Knowle, Landkey, Lee Bay, Little Torrington, Mortehoe, Northam, Parracombe, Petrockstowe, Saunton, West Down, Westward Ho!, Woolacombe, Wrafton, Yelland.
Schools: Kingsley, West Buckland.
Communications: The easiest route to North Devon by car is from junction 27 of the M5 motorway. The A361 brings you directly into the heart of the region. Alternatively the A377 Exeter to Barnsatple main road. By rail, the scenic Tarka Line from Exeter to Barnstaple connects with Intercity trains to London Paddington.
Places of interest: Arlington Court, Bude beach, Clovelly Harbour, Hele Bay, Lundy Island, Hartland Abbey and gardens, Castle hill gardens, Fremington Quay, Watersmeet.
The area is divided between two local authorities and includes the edge of Dartmoor. The first, South Hams, contains the towns of Brixham, Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Ivybridge, Salcombe and Totnes.To the north it includes part of Dartmoor National Park, to the east borders Torbay, and to the west Plymouth. It contains some of the most unspoilt coastline on the south coast, including the promontories of Start Point, and Bolt Head. The entire coastline, along with the lower Avon and Dart valleys, form most of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The second, Teignbridge, includes the towns of Ashburton, Dawlish, Newton Abbot and Teignmouth.
South Hams villages: Ashprington, Berry Pomeroy, Bigbury, Blackawton, Buckland-Tout-Saints, Chillington, Churchstow, Dartmouth, Dittisham, Holbeton, Kingston, Kingswear, Loddiswell, Malborough, Marldon, Newton Ferrers, Ringmore, Slapton, South Huish, South Milton, Staverton, Stoke Fleming, Stoke Gabriel, Thurlestone, Torcross, Ugborough, West Alvington.
Teignbridge villages: Abbotskerswell, Bickington, Bovey Tracey, Buckfastleigh, Buckland in the Moor, Chudleigh, Dawlish, Dunchideock, Holcombe, Ideford, Ipplepen, Kingsteignton, Moretonhampstead, North Bovey, Powderham, Shaldon, Shillingford St George, Tedburn St Mary, Widecombe-in-the-Moor.
Schools: St Christopher’s, Stover, Trinity.
Communications: The most direct route is the M5 motorway changing to the A38 Exeter to Plymouth main road or the A380 Exeter to Paignton main road. The area is further easily accessible by minor A roads. The nearest mainline rail connections avilable to London Paddington are either from Exeter St Davids, Newton Abbot, Plymouth and Paignton with several stations imbetween.
Places of interest: Becky Falls, Buckfast Abbey, Burgh Island, Coleton Fishacre House and garden, Dartmouth Castle, Berry Pomeroy Castle, Bradley Manor, Powderham Castle, Ugbrooke House and gardens.
Dartmoor is famed for its wide open spaces, its dramatic tors, wooded valleys, rushing rivers and for its wildlife but it is also important for its diverse cultural heritage whilst West Devon is characterised by rolling pasture and wooded river valleys leading to the north coast.
Towns: Towns in the district include Buckfastleigh, Chagford, Moretonhampstead, Okehampton, Princetown, and Tavistock.
Schools: Kelly College, Mount House.
Communications: The main access roads through West Devon and Dartmoor include the A30 (Exeter to Cornwall) and A38 (Exeter to Plymouth) main roads with a number of B roads servicing the area. The nearest mainline rail connections avilable to London Paddington are either from Okehampton or Plymouth.
Places of interest: Canonteign Falls, Castle Drogo, Lydford Gorge, Okehampton Castle, Buckland Abbey.