There is something special about English seaside towns and beaches and it has nothing to do with sunbathing or perfectly-tanned bodies. Instead, it’s about wrapping warm, nibbling on fish & chips out of a newspaper cone, and finishing off days with rich dairy ice-cream. A road trip from London to Devon offers the perfect opportunity to sample the best that the English countryside has to offer – there are fields laden with flowers, quaint villages by the dozen, beaches, UNESCO Heritage Sites, stunning drives, and working farms that boast of orchards laden with fresh fruits.
It’s the perfect long weekend away from London. Here’s how you can plan an amazing trip to Devon in 4 easy steps.
I) Rent a car
It’s no secret that we love road trips. We’ve rented cars and driven in more than 25 countries – driving is often the easiest and best way to explore a new country. In this case, a car is necessary if you truly want to explore the English countryside. That way, you can stop at a working farm for a quick meal, linger over a field full of wild flowers, chance on a picturesque village hidden from plain sight, or just picnic in the middle of nowhere on your road trip from London to Devon.
It’s easy to rent a car in London as long as you have a valid driving licence. On this occasion we chose Sixt. We’ve rented a car with Sixt dozens of times (Iceland, Northern Ireland, Portugal – you name it!), so it was a no-brainer. They have a number of collection centres in London – make sure you choose one that’s closest to your place because it’s no fun navigating rush-hour traffic in London just to return the car at the end of your road trip 🙂
II) Do the country-side thing
Now that you have a shiny car at your disposal, stock it with your favourite tuck-shop treats and get going. You’ll sense a change in atmosphere almost as soon as you leave London. Once you reach Devon, let your body adjust to the relaxed rhythm of the countryside. Go for long walks, feed baby lambs on working farms, pick apples or berries at a pick-your-own farm, or simply indulge in a langurous picnic. Truly a glorious beginning to your holiday in the English Countryside 🙂
If you want some ideas for pit-stops on the drive from London to Devon, check out our article on 5 Offbeat Day Trips from London (opens in a new tab).
III) Find the perfect accommodation
As always, accommodation can make or break a holiday. Make sure you choose accommodation that does justice to the unique rural nature of the English countryside. In fact, we would go so far as to say that hotels in some of the larger towns and cities are a complete no no. Look for cottages, farms, or refurbished barns. Think cobbled alleys, thatched roofs, fireplaces, and locally-sourced produce – you get the idea! 🙂
We stayed at a gorgeous cottage nestled deep in the countryside. The drive to countryside cottages in Devon takes visitors through winding country roads, idyllic farms dotted with sheep, and ancient woods that wouldn’t be out of place in an Enid Blyton novel. Vid was driving and I spent the entire drive peering out of the window at entire stretches of farmland covered with daffodils and marvelling at glistening trees swaying in the gentle breeze. I’m not ashamed to admit that I almost convinced myself that pixies and gnomes could probably be found hiding in the lush meadows in the area 🙂
Make sure you pick up supplies at a supermarket along the way because chances are, there won’t be too many restaurants or shops around your cottage. A starter kit, with tea, coffee, snacks, and milk will help you settle in quicker.
Kick off your holiday with a spot of Devon Cream Tea – home-baked scones, clotted cream, and jam. Nom! Spend your days savouring breakfasts with freshly-plucked berries, sampling locally-produced cheeses, BBQing, reading books, and trying to spy an enchanted wood or two. Countryside life in England is truly sprinkled with fairy dust – I love it!!
A countryside cottage in Devon provides the perfect base to explore the immediate area and neighbouring Dorset. We would head out in a different direction everyday. There are countless panoramic spots in the area, so you will want to stop your car every 5 minutes 🙂
We booked our cottage with oneoffplaces.co.uk, an amazing website that curates quirky offbeat accommodation from around the world (we love it so!). Check out their selection of cottages in Devon here: www.oneoffplaces.co.uk
IV) Explore (obviously!)
Devon boasts of rolling hills, numerous areas of outstanding natural beauty, the English Riviera, rugged moors, and tranquil wilderness. Here are some of our favourite things to do in the area:
Take a walk at Ladram Bay
Ladram Bay overlooks the scenic Jurassic Coast and offers gorgeous sea-views. The blue waters of the sea compliment the majestic red-coloured rock formations and provide dozens of photo opportunities. Thousands of campers and holiday-makers stay at Ladram Bay Holiday Park every year. However you can visit Ladram Bay for a few hours too. There is no entry fee and parking costs £5.
Wolf down ice-cream in Sidmouth
A bustling town, there is no dearth of shops in Sidmouth. Fish & chip takeaways line the seaside promenade but we have a soft spot (pun fully intended!) for the amazing ice-cream at Taste of Sidmouth. There are dozens of flavours to choose from but we loved the devilishly decadent Ferrero Rocher ice-cream. Beware of the huge portions – a single scoop of ice-cream at at Taste of Sidmouth can probably feed two 😉
Escape to the 18th Century at Branscombe
Tucked away in the scenic Devon countryside, Branscombe is definitely one of the most picturesque villages (if not THE most picturesque) in the area. There are quaint old buildings weighed down with colourful flowers at every corner. You’re bound to feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you admire the thatched roofs of the houses and pay a visit to Branscombe’s 400-year old mill. If you’re a keen photographer, Branscombe will be the highlight of your road-trip to Devon.
Get a photo clicked at Beer
You know you need to pull over when a place is called Beer. Sheer novelty of the name apart, Beer is a cute fishing village in Devon. The ancient village boasts of arresting views of white chalk cliffs, charming sea-side walks, and fishing boats by the dozen.
Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove
Now this is a bit controversial because Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, in neighbouring Dorset, are a two hour drive away from Devon. But we love them. These are two stops that need to feature on every road trip from London to Devon. This drive takes visitors along the Jurassic Coast, England’s first natural UNESCO Heritage Site. The stunning drive is littered with majestic panoramas, so it’s completely worth it!
Lulworth Cove is a crescent-shaped cove that boasts of turquoise waters and handsome cliffs in the background. Durdle Door, a natural limestone arch, is one of the most photographed locations in UK and one of the prettiest geological wonders in the entire world. We will let photos do the talking because words just can’t do justice to the beauty of these natural wonders. Pack a picnic and wrap warm because it can get really windy – make sure you stay back at Durdle Door for sunset. It’s all kinds of amazing.
That’s it – everything you need to know about planning the perfect road trip from London to Devon. Devon has everything from meandering streams, secret coves, and magical woods to rugged moors, secluded beaches, and the wild Atlantic Ocean and we couldn’t love it more if we tried! 🙂
Do you love the English countryside as much as we do? 🙂 If you have more time on your hands, you should definitely continue the road trip to Cornwall.
Planning a trip to London?
We have everything you need to plan your trip to London, including all our favourite things to do in London, what to pack (and what not to pack ) in our Guide to London.