Pocket Britain

A county with incredible countryside, sandy beaches and charming old British towns

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Devon is the third-largest of all the counties in England. It lies in the South-west, between Cornwall, Dorset, and Somerset, and spreads out over more than 2500 square miles. Over a million people have their homes here.
Devon was one of the first areas in the country to be inhabited by humans, some 8000 years ago. Since then, it has featured heavily in British history, providing the scene for battles in the War of the Roses, and the English Civil War. Thankfully, since those days, everything has become a lot quieter! Today, this is one of the most rural and relaxing of all the counties, with one of the smallest population densities. It features small cities, small towns, and small villages, with lots of countryside in between. There are also two completely separate coastlines, on both the Bristol and English channels. It is the only county in the country that can make this claim. Thanks to the unspoiled environment, Devon is known for its diverse plants and wildlife - some birdwatchers have claimed to be able to see over a hundred different species in a single day.
The capital city of the area is Exeter, which is famous for its cathedral - a dramatic gothic building which has already passed its 600th birthday. The city is home to dozens of other old buildings and churches, as well as a pleasant waterside - full of shops and pubs - which is extremely popular on sunny days. When the weather's not as good, many visitors can opt to explore the city's disused water system, underground in a network of creepy tunnels.
The biggest city in Devon, though, is Plymouth, an impressive harbour town on the southern coast. This is where Sir Francis Drake played a casual game of bowls, before setting out to defeat the Spanish Armada. It is popular with tourists, receiving around 12 million every year. You can even visit the famous Eddistone Lighthouse here. It was dismantled brick by brick from it's former location on a tiny rock out at sea and rebuilt on a prominent part of the town overlooking the harbour.
Other popular coastal towns and villages are plentiful, including Torquay, with its renowned beaches, and Westward Ho!, the only place in Britain with an exclamation mark in its name.
Elsewhere in the county, there are large areas of beautiful natural scenery, including two national parks. Dartmoor is the most well-known, and is often recognised as one of the biggest open spaces in Britain. It is popular with walkers, who come from all around to take in the fantastic views. This was the setting for Sherlock Holmes' most famous case, the Hound of the Baskervilles. The area is also used by the army, for tactical exercises. They use red and white posts to mark the boundaries of these training areas, so try not to intrude, or your walk might not be so relaxing! The other national park is Exmoor, known for its huge cliffs. It is said to be haunted by the "Beast of Exmoor", a mysterious creature that feeds on sheep.
Devon is one of the best places to visit in Britain, for walking, incredible countryside, sandy beaches, and charming old British towns. And if you do visit, make sure you treat yourself to the traditional Devon tea - scones, jam, and clotted cream.

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