One of the best things about Devon is the diversity of the landscape, you have the hustle and bustle of the cities, the amazing coasts and endless countryside. One area to really appreciate Devon’s rural charm is Mid-Devon. Aside from lovely market towns and villages, there are lots of cute and cosy cottages and a host of things to see and do, plus being in Mid-Devon puts you in the perfect place to explore the whole of the county – you’re equidistance from Dartmoor, Exmoor, the beach and just about everything else you could want to explore.

If you’re planning to visit Mid Devon this spring, here are some of the things you can do during your stay.

One must visit attraction is the Grand Western Canal in Tiverton. As well as being a tranquil place for walks and picnics, the Canal Country Park and Local Nature Reserve is a truly beautiful place to spend the day. The Tiverton Canal Company is a unique family owned heritage attraction where you will see staff dressed in the clothing of a bygone era and have some of the only horse drawn barges left in the UK. If the weather is good, book a trip on a canoe or hire a boat and explore the waterway at your own pace or spend some time at Devon’s only floating café bar which is permanently moored at Tiverton Wharf. The visitor centre and play park also provide entertainment for the kids and give you a chance to learn more about the origins of the canal and the important role it once played in Devon’s forgotten industries.

image shows horse drawn barge at tiverton canal co
Image: Tiverton Canal Co. 

Tiverton is also home to the Devon Railway Centre, where the whole family can enjoy a day of railway-themed fun. You can drive your own train and cars, enjoy the indoor soft play area, there are a host of different train rides, an extensive model exhibition and a museum which can be found inside a former BR carriage. The whole centre is set around an original Victorian Great Western Railway station on the former Exe Valley line. It’s a great way to find out more about the history of Mid Devon and spend some time discovering more about trains and railways.

That’s not the only heritage attraction that is worth a visit while you’re in the region, Coldharbour Mill can be found near Cullompton and is one of the oldest woollen mills in the UK, having been in continuous production since the 1790s. It has remained largely untouched since the industrial revolution. A visit here is a rare chance to step back in time and experience the sights and smells of a traditional factory. The guided tours feature experienced craftspeople who show you exactly how the wool has been crafted for generations. While you’re here make sure to explore the outside of the factory where you can often see kingfishers flying around the river – it’s a great way to experience the peacefulness of the countryside, especially if you’re visiting from a more urban area.

If you are keen to learn more about the history and heritage of the region, be sure to stop off at Castle Drogo. Managed by the National Trust, members will receive free entry and visits during school holidays will often give you a chance to take part in additional activities. This is a fascinating addition to not only the Trust’s portfolio, but also Devon’s history because it is the youngest castle in England – it is only around 100 years old! It was built for a local millionaire, how the other half live! It isn’t just the castle itself, which has some lovely interiors to explore, but the grounds are also well worth a visit. The formal gardens come alive whatever the season, so there is always something new to see and the surrounding Teign Valley has plenty of walking routes which are suitable for a range of abilities and ages. If you’re a fan of the countryside and love the more rural areas of Devon, make sure to head into the valley and seek out the gorge (it’s older than the castle!) and see what wildlife you can spot along the way.

castle drogo
Image: Castle Drogo 

This part of Devon is full of beautiful gardens and parklands to explore, including Fursdon Gardens which is also famous for its tea room. Fursdon is one of the oldest family homes in the county and the surrounding gardens bring visitors from all over the world. On a clear day, you have stunning views across to Dartmoor and you’ll be easily mistaken in thinking you are very far off the beaten track. In fact though, you’re not far at all from places like Tiverton, Crediton and Exeter. The gardens feature a mix of traditional and contemporary planting, as well as a Meadow Garden. While there, you must take advantage of the tea room, as there are fewer places better to enjoy a real Devonshire cream tea. The scones are all freshly made on site, and you have the freshest clotted cream and locally made preserves to accompany your tea. Not far from the gardens, you’ll find an Iron Age Hill Fort which is said to be the home of the Cadbury Dragon which local legend says protects the Fursdon family from harm. Visiting at this time of year is particularly special as the surrounding countryside is full of bluebells and other spring flowers.

Another garden in this area is Stone Lane Gardens which can be found near Dartmoor national Park. Open to the public daily, Stone Lane Gardens holds a national collection of birch and alder trees and regularly holds a prestigious sculpture exhibition.

If you’re visiting with the kids, you must book a session at The Bear Trail. Known as Devon’s muddiest family assault course, the kids will absolutely love getting messy with these activities. It’s a great way to get them to experience joy in the great outdoors without them even realising it! Why not take on the site’s 30 acres as a family and then, when you’re done, chill out together with a pizza at their café or bring your own picnic to enjoy on the grounds. With everything from nets, zip wires, tunnels and assault courses suitable for the whole family, you’ll find that you’ll want to come back again and again.

child in mud at bear trail
Image: Bear Trail 

The younger kids will also love the nearby Bear Town,  a unique role play experience set in an immersive setting where they can learn through play. The site has twelve different role play areas and gives kids the chance to play at vets, hairdressers, fire fighters and more!

Want more ideas for a visit to Mid Devon? Click here to find out more about what’s on, things to do and where to stay in the region.

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