It seems difficult, these days, to find a holiday destination that lets you escape the grid completely. So many people disappear off on road-trip adventures and Vietnamese honeymoons, yet somehow manage to upload envy-inducing pictures to Facebook while they’re still abroad.
Perhaps you spend the day compulsively checking your email, or doze off each night to the sound of perpetual traffic. You dream of a holiday near a beautiful beach, but worry about letting go of your responsibilities for a while. Or maybe, like so many people, you simply can’t afford to jet off somewhere tropical.
If you live in a British town, it’s easy to forget that in some parts of the country you really can’t hear any cars. Great stretches of gorgeous countryside are scattered throughout the British Isles. Some are admittedly easier to reach by public transport than others, but if you drive you really do have the freedom to lock up your town house and plunge off into the wilderness.
Devon, warmed by the Gulf Stream to a comfortable summer average of 17.5°C or more, strikes the perfect balance between accessible but stunning countryside. The rail links are great – Exeter is only two hours South West of London Paddington – and the roads are well maintained and extremely pretty. It’s such a good-looking county, whether you’re bobbing over little stone bridges and looking out for otters in Dartmoor, or cruising the breathtaking Atlantic coast around Exmoor.
Since farming has become less profitable, an amazing selection of holiday rental property has become available across Devon. The coastal towns have a mixture of hotels and rental accommodation, but if you really want to experience English country life at its most peaceful, choose one of the remote cottages in Devon that are sprinkled across the county.
You’ll find them in fields, woodland, on the moors and overlooking little sandy coves. They make the perfect base for walking, sightseeing and simply chilling out with your friends or family. Exploring the countryside on foot is a brilliant way to shake off any tension left over from work or school. It’s easy enough to jump in the car when you need groceries, or fancy a day out at a theme park.
Even if you don’t own a vehicle, there’s a huge selection of car rental companies and they’re usually cheap, especially if you book in advance. Sat nav is a great way of taking the stress out of driving, but don’t worry if you don’t have a gadget budget. Online route-planner tools, like these from the RAC and the AA are brilliant time-savers. They’ll give you easy-to-follow instructions to print out – just make sure you take a good road atlas for back-up.
For anyone living outside the UK, now is the perfect time to grab one of the abundant discount flights you’ll find online and come on over. We have plenty of regional airports, despite being such a small country. Plymouth airport has regular flights to the rest of Britain, while Exeter International connects you to Europe. You can rent a car from either and be exploring in no time.
To make your Devon holiday – and your escape from daily life – perfect, try eating some local produce. Devon clotted cream, fresh from local farms, is famous for a reason – it’s absolutely delicious, especially with a freshly baked scone and jam, or, less conventionally, honey.
The vegetables, too, taste nicer than those in the supermarket, which have often been in transport and warehouses for months. You may be sceptical, but once you taste them you’ll recognise the difference. Just remember that local shops might close earlier than you’re used to, so stock up on milk!