With restrictions gradually allowing meetups in outdoor spaces, and the weather starting to look distinctly springlike (in-between bursts of typical April-themed snow and hail!), we wanted to share some our favourite outdoor areas in the Devon area that are near to us. We’re incredibly lucky to be in the heart of some stunning countryside, and a great many of the towns and national parks around us are perfect for a spot of afternoon tea with a spectacular view!
Whether you already live in the Devon area and want to discover a new location you may not have stumbled across before, or the restrictions will allow you to travel down to Devon for a safe UK-based holiday, we hope we can show you some beautiful places to sit and enjoy an afternoon tea hamper.
Phear Park in Exmouth
Exmouth is a typical seaside holiday town, with long golden sandy beaches and some gorgeous coastline stretching round to the caravan parks at Sandy Bay. The seaside at Exmouth can be a little perilous when eating food, as the seagulls are well-versed in spotting their chances. So we’re going to recommend a more central park as the perfect setting for a cream tea. (Less sand on your scone too.)
Phear Park is around 10 minutes’ walk from the centre of the town and has a small amount of parking if you choose to drive. There are big green areas with lots of space to lay out a blanket and set out your plates and food, plus plenty of large old trees casting shade if you need to escape the sun. A pitch and putt golf course stretches up one side, there are tennis courts and a skate park, plus an old fallen tree trunk in the middle of the green that has been made safe for children to climb on and play around.
It’s a park with a myriad of different areas offering different feels, so you can walk through and choose your atmosphere. Being central to the town it also has next to no seagull problems – although you may need to keep an eye out just in case a dog being walked by its owner smells the jam and cream!
The Byes in Sidmouth
Stretching up the middle of this quieter seaside town, this is a beautiful grassy area which follows a winding river. Small wooden bridges cross the water occasionally, tree cover lines the walk and provides shade, and there are gates into side-meadows and orchards off the central area. This is one of these spaces that can feel quite enchanting, with running water and dappled shade. Perfect for the combination of a stroll and picking a patch to sit and enjoy some food.
Sidmouth itself also offers some very appealing little shops, independent crafts and curious art with local produce – the beach is pebble with a smaller stretch of sand, so also offers ocean views and the continuation of the coastal path.
The Byes is only around 10 minutes’ walk from the beach, and there are several car parks in Sidmouth within easy walking distance.
Budleigh Beach in Budleigh Salterton
This is the only beach on our list, as the seagulls are slightly less tenacious than other local beaches!
Budleigh Salterton is a quiet village with a very small high street, leading on to a pebbled beach. The coastal path is beautiful leading into and out of this village, with some stunning views coming down to the sparkling sea. Budleigh has just one or two cafes on the seafront, so the birds are less accustomed to robbing people of their food, and you are more likely to be able to enjoy a cream tea in safety!
The town has some really unique little shops and art galleries worth exploring, including an ice cream shop called The Creamery with every flavour under the sun.
If you head down the beach to the left where the Otter River joins the sea, you can find a spot overlooking the ocean, Otter River, and the start of the coastal path leading on to Sidmouth.
Haldon Forest Park
South of Exeter and up in the hills you’ll find this beautiful wooded park, not only offering some beautiful views and quiet spots for sitting and picnicking but also lots of activities if you feel like mixing your afternoon tea with something fun activities.
The forest itself has a network of paths, both for bicycles and for walkers, with signposts clearly leading you around the walk of your choice. There are shorter gentle loops and longer trails with hills for those wanting more exercise, and there are signposted viewpoints with occasional benches so you can plan where to stop, sit and eat while overlooking the surrounding beautiful countryside.
You can also rent bicycles and even Segways here! There is a small dirt-bike track next to the café, plus Haldon is home of Go Ape which is a treetop adventure that you’ll get to see even if you’re not visiting it specifically – many of the walking trails cross under the zipwire routes!
Haldon is a perfect spot for some beautiful forests providing shade and quiet, varied walking routes and some lovely views when you choose to stop.
Haytor – Dartmoor
The final recommendation on this list is perhaps the one offering the most dramatic views, and possibly the more well-known too. Dartmoor has a reputation for being beautiful, and has a great many amazing spots to enjoy. If you’re new to the area we’d recommend starting with Hay Tor – it’s popular but within easier driving distance than some further spots, and the space is so large that you can walk just a small distance and find yourself away from any crowds. It also has the advantage of having a Visitor Centre to give you information on where to walk, plus toilet facilities (best to check these are open during Covid restrictions before you visit).
The grass is always short and comfy for laying a blanket and spreading out an afternoon tea, the views are stunning and if you’re lucky you might see some wild Dartmoor ponies grazing nearby. You can work up an appetite by making your way up to the top of the Tor and taking in the view of the surrounding moors.
The winding Dartmoor roads are also such that if you drive to Hay Tor and decide you want to explore further on, you can keep driving and simply pull into any little parking spot off the side of the road whenever you like, and search for a nice spot to eat.
We hope this list might have some new and tempting areas for you to explore, and if you’re elsewhere else in the UK and aiming to plan a visit sometime soon, we hope you can make your way down and enjoy everything that Devon has to offer!