Camping & Caravanning


West Country

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Other regions in Britain

Most popular holiday region in England, the West Country of Devon and Cornwall is overrun in July and August. The region’s main attractions are its coasts, lined with sandy beaches, and its mild climate, May and June often being sunnier than mid-season.

Inland Devon retains great tracts of peaceful country crossed by wooded valleys and high-banked lanes. Tall headlands and forested river mouths line the north coast, more gentle scenery the south – the highlight of which is the lovely Dart Estuary from which steamers regularly sail upstream to Totnes. The largest city on the south coast is Plymouth, more a port than a resort, but to the east on either side of the Salcombe headland are many unspoilt bays. Farther east is Torbay, some twenty miles round, with a climate mild enough for palm trees to flourish and its three big resorts of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.

The granite mass of Dartmoor, a 1000ft high plateau bounded by Okehamptom, Plymouth, Tavistock and Bovey Tracey, is relatively uncrowded. The same goes for that part of Exmoor spilling over into North Devon from Somerset, for which South Molton is a handy base. The coast on either side of nearby Ilfracombe is one of the most attractive in the county. Between Dartmoor and Exmoor is a little-visited region centred on the Torridge and Taw Valleys. Two interesting sights in Devon are the country houses of Saltram and Buckland Abbey.

Despite the influx of tourists, Cornwall retains a secretive charm symbolised by unfamiliar place names, Celtic crosses and holy wells. For touring, the short distance between the north and south coasts, the north bold and rugged, the south sheltered and with more luxuriant vegetation, is an advantage. The long rollers of the Atlantic coast on the north are ideal for experienced surfers, but their undertow can trap the unwary. Lining both coasts are wooded creeks and quaint fishing ports with a charm now more theatrical than real. The largest resort on the north coast is Newquay, and on the south the deepwater harbour of Falmouth.

Confirmation of the region’s popularity are the number of campsites (over 300), though most of these are well distributed. Main concentrations are at Newquay, St Austell, Lynton, Ilfracombe, Looe and Paignton on the coast and at Okehampton, Newton Abbot and Helston inland. Some of the coastal campsites – full to overflowing in season – are the equal of holiday villages, but most of those inland are small and with only basic facilities.

For full details of all parks listed on our website, see the latest edition of Camping Caravanning Britain. Priced at £8.50, the book is available from WHSmith, Waterstone's, Blackwell's and other bookshops; alternatively, to order a copy directly click here.

While every effort has been made to ensure that the information on this website is accurate and up-to-date, the publishers can accept no responsibility for errors or omissions. Always phone a park before visiting to check facilities and prices.