From beach retreats to countryside hideaways, Devon is awash with excellent campsites and we've been loading up our car with camping clobber and heading for this south westerly corner of the UK for decades. Don't tell the folks in Cornwall, but we quite simply adore Devon and it really is one of our favourite places to go camping in the country. Yet, while it's all well and good spending endless days on the beach or walking the South West Coast path, we know it's always handy to have an extra ace up your sleeve for rainy days or extra energetic kids. So, to help you plan your next camping adventure in Devon we've put together a collection of our very favourite places to go and things to do with the family in the area. From aquariums on rainy days to sunny boat trips and sandy bays, we're confident that this collection of family-friendly activities will offer perfect inspiration for your next Devon trip...
History is always wonderful fuel for discussion, and can engage both young and old, which is why Powderham Castle is such a great family attraction. The magical and historic castle deep in the heart of Devon will create long-lasting memories, and you’ll be engrained with a centuries worth of stories to tell people (try not to tell them all at once though, eh?). Plus, it’s dog friendly, so your furry friend can explore the grounds with you too.
There’s no denying that a day out at an aquarium is one of the most popular family activities. Now, with Ilfracombe Aquarium, you’ll find carefully recreated natural habitats, which house over 75 different species. Amazingly, there’s a perfect equilibrium between fun and interest for the adults, and excitement and education for little ones. Although it’s small, it’s in the Old Lifeboat House, so you wouldn’t have it any other way! Don’t forget the feeding sessions – running hourly from 11am.
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland, then take a wind-buffeted boat ride out to picturesque Lundy Island. The island warden, who runs themed natural hikes, shares the isle with 24 other residents, plus the countless number of sea birds, dolphins, seals and basking sharks. One of the best places to relax on the island is the old pub, which is situated near the 13th-century Marisco Castle.
The Tarka Trail
Get outside in the sun and add a little exercise to your camping holiday with a journey down the renowned Tarka Trail. As you cycle along the 102-mile trail, you’ll take in mesmerising views, see amazing pieces of scenery, and spot things that you can all talk about as a family. Don’t have your own bikes? Worry not, you can always hire one from Otter Cycle Hire nearby.
In 2006, Benjamin Mee and his family embarked on a mission to restore and reopen this zoological park; since then, it has been a popular spot for families from far and wide. There’s species such as lions, tigers, jaguars and bears, as well as monkeys, birds and bugs. So, while it’s not a massive area, it’s adequate enough to see your favourite animals going about their business, eat your picnic and witness feeding time.
Learn about the history of Totnes Castle, which was built in the 13th century to halt any offences from the three valleys below, while seeing breath-taking views over the River Dart. You’ll find that it’s been very carefully preserved, which means the whole family can truly envision what it would have looked like all those years ago. If you want some further entertainment, there’s outdoor theatre events available during the summer.
A spectacular gorge is always well worth the visit, as it’s an easy way to plan a whole day out as a family, and National Trust-owned Lyndford Gorge is one of the best in the UK. You’ll start off at the top, and there’s a variety of routes that you can choose from; if you want a thrill, then opt for the steep path down to the waterfall, which consists of 200 steps. But, if you want to enjoy the scenery, wildlife and flora, choose the slower river route.
At the Darlington Hall estate, you’ll find brilliant architecture (great for photos), a thousand acres of farm, and parkland, which is all operated by a charitable trust. There’s always an event going on, and some of the best each year include the annual Tagore Festival and the Ways with Words festival, as well as theatre, music and dance performances. There’s also a barn cinema which the kids would love, and the medieval Great Hall should definitely not be missed out.
When you’re mentioning family attractions in a coastal region, it’s almost impossible to leave out the beach! Devon is home to a wonderful selection of beaches which can rival anywhere else in the UK (maybe even the world), so why not utilise one of them for your own pleasure? Enjoy fun walks, build sandcastles, practice surfing, sunbath, explore rock-pools, take a frisbee, swim in the sea – the possibilities are endless!