Free or cheap ways to enjoy Devon

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Sometimes the best pick-me-up is the most simple of things, and not the expensive spa treatment or bottle of wine on a Friday night. The most reinvigorating ways of shaking off the day/week/mood are right in front our noses and can often cost very little if anything at all. It just requires us to embrace our inner child and skip out the door.

Here are a small clutch of my favourite things to do.

Ride the ocean wave with a boat trip across Tor Bay from Torquay to Brixham. For less than a pint of beer (£3.50 return) you can sail across the Bay with on-board commentary highlighting places of interest landward. The Western Lady is celebrating 70 years of service and offers a wonderful way to see Torbay. If you’re lucky, you’ll see seals or dolphins on your way over. Disembarking at the working fishing port of Brixham, you can wander it’s lovely streets (locals refer to the areas nearest the harbour as ‘fish town’ and those further inland ‘cow town’) and discover a new favourite place to eat the catch of the day. Strike a path towards Berry Head and its magnificent views before heading back to the boat.

If you want a true understanding of our place within nature, pick your way around Valley of the Rocks in North Devon. A relatively easy walk from Lynton of about half a mile, this place offers the most staggering, breath-taking views and a geological tour through this part of Devon. The dry valley has sliced through highly fossiliferous Devonian Lynton Beds and are some of the oldest Devonian rocks. In comparison, us humans are mere tots compared to these awesome Ice Age landforms. Look out for the feral goats who’ll stare quizzically as you whip out the phone for yet another panoramic photo.

Walk a promenade like a Victorian. If the Vics did one thing well (industrial revolution aside) it was strollin’. Devon offers an abundance of towns where this favourite pastime still exists and can be enjoyed for nada: Sidmouth, Torquay, Ilfracombe, Seaton, Teignmouth, Bideford, Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton. There’s almost an endless list of places when you can indulge in this most genteel of hobbies without a corset, crinoline or top hat in sight. Inevitably there’ll be somewhere where you can sit, people watch and succumb to the temptation of a huge waffle cone ice cream. Heavenly.

See Dartmoor on two wheels. The best way to explore this ancient, mythical landscape is to ditch the car and get yourself a pushbike. Snatching glimpses of granite tors, rushing rivers, grazing ponies and varied habitats from a car window is a daft act of masochism. Get in amongst it and feel the air on your face. Dartmoor is made for sustainable travel and offers plenty of choice for on and off-road cycling. Just be considerate and follow the excellent advice from Visit Dartmoor. Otherwise, the moor is your oyster.

Get a natural high and do a parkrun. Hey, I’m a runner and this blog wouldn’t be complete without me talking about this, right? What I love about parkrun is that we have such an abundance of choice and new parkruns are springing up all the time. You don’t need any running experience to do parkrun – walk it if you want – but it’s just a wonderful way of seeing our places, getting fit (or fitter) and it’s completely free. Plus, it always, always is a good excuse to eat cake and drink coffee afterwards. Cake, coffee, running, countryside. Seriously, it’s leading your best life right there.

Why not try one yourself? I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Em x

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