If you're heading south from Exeter to a cottage by the sea in Devon, you'll find thirty miles of stunning coast to enjoy; dramatic red cliffs, acres of sand dunes, pebbled beaches and endless rock pools. Exmouth is a great place to hire a holiday cottage and a good starting point, from which you can explore both the Exe Estuary and the surrounding coast. As one of the few seaside towns with its own rail link from Exeter, you can even get to Exmouth without a car - great if you're coming by plane or if you want to cover extra ground on a cycling holiday in Devon. The train journey from Exeter also offers great views of the Exe Estuary.
Exmouth is proud of its two miles of golden sands, which are good for swimming and sandcastles in the summer. There's a traditional promenade with swingboats and crazy golf. Take a stroll from the harbour to Orcombe point and enjoy wonderful views of Dawlish and Torbay. Self-catering accommodation in Exmouth includes seafront flats to suit couples or larger houses for families and groups; many of these are within easy reach of the seafront, with excellent sea views.
South Devon Coast
South of Dartmoor is another area of outstanding natural beauty: Salcombe estuary. Framed by Bigbury Bay and the long sandy beach of Start Bay, the area around Salcombe is known for its sailing waters and rich ecosystem. Although known as Salcombe Estuary, the distinctive landform should in fact be classified as a 'Ria', since it's a salt-water tidal inlet. Whatever the technicalities, visitors will be impressed by the glistening waters lapping at a shoreline dotted with bright painted buildings. The mild climate allows unusual plants to flourish, and dolphins and basking sharks are amongst the many marine visitors. There are sailing schools and sailing shops in town, so this is a great place to get to if you're planning a sailing holiday or just want to try it out for the day. Kingsbridge, further inland, is an attractive town with lots of holiday houses and a tree-lined quayside which is lit up all year round. Kingsbridge hosts regular markets and there are special events including an annual music festival, summer fair and winter extravaganza which culminates in a spectacular floodlit procession.
Plymouth is not known as one of England's prettiest cities; it suffered from particularly heavy bombing in the Second World War. However, it still has a lot to offer visitors both as a modern city and a historic seafaring port. Dedicated shoppers will enjoy the range of high-street stores in the centre, whilst history enthusiasts can make their way to the heritage site Plymouth Hoe and the Mayflower Steps, from which the Pilgrim Fathers left for the New World in 1620. The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth was the first aquarium in the UK to be set up solely for the purposes of education, conservation and research. It remains a popular attraction, having drawn in millions of visitors over the years. Black Friars Distillery, the working home of Plymouth Gin, offers guided tours to those who are interested in the art and history of this famous tipple.