South Devon – the firm favourite coastal & countryside winter break

A lot of people bank their holiday throughout the year and grab a week or even two off over the Christmas and New Year period. It all sounds great but often the never ending visits from relatives throughout the festivities can get a bit wearing, and many people find they get itchy feet in the days after Boxing Day.

For people who fancy getting away for a few days over the Christmas period South Devon has always been a firm favourite. With its beautiful countryside, majestic coastline and idyllic towns and villages, as well as a mild climate, it’s the perfect place for a winter sojourn.

If you’re planning on visiting the region a stay in a South Devon holiday cottage is the ultimate way to enjoy the region. It gives you a cosy bolthole to relax in, and makes an ideal springboard to explore the area further. You can check out accommodation by visiting www.coastandcountry.co.uk .

Here are some great activity destinations to keep you occupied:

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(Totnes Castle. Credit: Sento http://www.flickr.com/photos/visentico/)

Looking for some fancy alternative culture and local arts and crafts? Then visit Totnes. Long regarded as a bohemian centre for the region, you’ll find a variety of shops and cafes all supporting local business. While you’re there be sure to visit Totnes Castle, one of the best preserved examples of a Norman motte and bailey castle.

Another jewel in the South Devon crown is nearby Dartmouth. It’s just a short drive from Totnes and sits at the mouth of the Dart estuary. Although it’s most famed as a summer holiday resort and yachting mecca, it’s still a wonderful place to visit or stay in on a winter break. The surrounding countryside offers beautiful coast and country walks, while the town itself has a fine selection of shops.

Dartmouth is also home to some of the best restaurants in South Devon, and indeed the entire country. Award-winning chef Mitch Tonks has two establishments. The Seahorse offers the kind of top quality dining experience you’d expect in London’s swankiest joints. If you prefer something a little more down to earth then visit Mitch’s RockFish Seafood and Chips takeaway and enjoy some salty chips and some local fish while strolling down the estuary front.

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(Credit: Richard Sz http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/)

If you’re a literature fan then you probably know of the ties Agatha Christie had to South Devon. Born in Torquay, she spent much of her life in South Devon right up until her death. Two particular places of interest in the area are Burgh Island and Greenway.

Christie often holidayed on Burgh Island, with its gorgeous Art Deco hotel. A winter’s stroll along the beach at Bigbury-On-Sea will give you fine views of the area, and you can journey across to the island at high tide on the sea tractor. Wander around the island and then drop into the hotel for some delicious food.

Greenway was Agatha Christie’s family holiday home, and is now a National Trust property. The house and grounds can be explored and will give you an insight into why South Devon was the inspiration for so many of the famous crime writer’s works.

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(Credit: Gerry Labrijn http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/)

What could be more delightful than chugging through the South Devon countryside on an old steam train? The Dartmouth Steam Railway offers a route between Dartmouth all the way up to Paignton with several stops along the way. In the winter months they put on a variety of seasonal special events, including a Santa Express which is sure to keep the children entertained.

There you have it, just a handful of activities that will fill your time, between gazing dreamily out to sea, enjoying the local culture, cuisine & people, plus sampling the fine local ales South Devon has to offer.

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