Things to do in Autumn in South Devon

Published on 2021-10-29 / By Belinda Dixon

Autumn – the season to cuddle up with a loved one and indulge. As summer’s heat disperses, so do the crowds. So what better time for a romantic break in glorious Devon? Here you can stroll arm in arm along deserted beaches, take a moonlit stroll on the wild moor, see stunning foliage displays, plunge into a gaspingly cold river, then bliss out in our luxury spa. If it sounds like your kind of break, read on 

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Deserted Beaches & Romantic Walks

The beaches of south Devon are idyllic spots to laze on a sweltering summer’s day. But they’re also fabulous places to explore in the autumn. On the rare occasions when we’re not having an Indian summer (see below), autumn can bring whipping winds and wild waves. They make a walk beside the shore an exhilarating experience where you snuggle up close to the person you’re with. As Torbay alone has 20 beaches and 22 miles of coast there’s always more shore to explore. And the best bit? Those romantic, wind-blown walks definitely mean you’ve earned a truly indulgent Devon afternoon tea.

Lincombe blog maidencombe beach

Indian Summers

It’s a curious – and for parents very frustrating – thing. But as soon as the schools go back the weather improves. These mild, calm spells of autumnal weather are a regularly occurring phenomenon – so much so that the phrase Indian Summer has been around since 1778. And in south Devon it’s fairly common to have warm, sunny days in September, October and even early November. And while it’s irritating for parents, it’s great news for couples and groups of friends. Not only does the weather seem better in September, but south Devon is also less busy. So it’s even easier to park closer to that pretty port and enjoy those sights, attractions and beaches without the crowds.

autumn leaves

Autumn Leaf Displays

Russet reds, burnt orange, bright yellow – a spectacular leaf display is one of the season’s biggest joys. South Devon’s steeply-sloping wooded hills are some of the best places in the country to see these vivid colours. And while Devon is full of photogenic forests, you can maximise on autumnal eye candy by heading to an arboretum - a botanical garden devoted to trees.

Bicton Park Botanical Gardens is just 30 miles from Torquay. The 64 acres span 300 years of horticultural history. It’s impressive at any time of year. But in autumn the garden’s arboretum really comes into its own with mesmerising displays of seasonal colour. Or, on the edge of Dartmoor, just 25 miles from Torquay, you’ll find the 5 acre Stone Lane woodland and water garden. Here a National Collection of birch trees put on a vibrant autumnal show of yellows and oranges, offset against light bark. 

Dartmoor Autumn

Dartmoor Walks & Foraging Foods

South Dartmoor in the Autumn is a feast for the sense. Tawny rolling hills, purple heather, mists tangled in ancient woods. Dartmoor National Park outlines a wealth of walks ranging from easy to follow, 2-4km strolls, via 3-10km half-day hikes to long-distance trails.  Or go guided – the walks led by Moorland Guides range from riverside hikes to moonlit strolls. 

And as well as looking at the landscape you can also eat things from it. If you know what you’re doing Dartmoor overflows with wild produce. It’s important to get it right, so booking a foraging course is ideal. Dartmoor’s Daughter runs public Fungal Forays and can be hired for private foraging walks too.

Spa Break in pool

Cold River Swims

An autumn break in south Devon opens up an experience that’ll give you a genuine thrill. As well as providing superbly scenic walks, the River Dart is a memorable spot to swim. The recent surge in popularity of cold water bathing means you’ll spot gaggles of grinning swimmers on the banks. In the autumn the Dart is bracing but not too Baltic. Ask for local advice about where and when to swim, note these safety tips and prepare to gasp with delight  And, if you stay at Lincombe Hall, you know that your decidedly chilly dip can be followed by a luxurious spell in the hotel’s new £2 million spa. It comes complete with a toasty Scandinavian sauna and aromatherapy steam room - bliss.

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