23rd November 2021

A guide to exploring South Devon in Winter

Experience a charismatic city during the most wonderful time of the year.

Exeter will act as your gateway to discovering the charm of Winter in South Devon. We’ve put together a guide of things to do and places to visit, that will transform your winter travels into a wonderland of seasonal experiences. 

1. Donkey Sanctuary

Open 365 days a year, The Donkey Sanctuary is sure to captivate you during your visit. Situated near the coast in Sidmouth, approximately a 32-minute drive from The Devon Hotel. This attraction will take you from the vibrant city of Exeter, and transport you to a seaside town known as being the gateway to the Jurassic Coast. We can’t think of a better seasonal delight than interacting with animals, the Donkey Sanctuary is home to donkeys, mules and hinnies. The sanctuary is set to become a day full of meeting the friendly resident donkeys, exploring the indoor attractions including the visitor Centre, understanding the donkey’s zone and Dr Svendsen’s hut. There are also guided walks, scenic trails and a maze to lose yourself in. 

2. Peak Hill llamas

Whilst we’re focusing on the scenic town of Sidmouth, why not discover your new favourite walking companion. Peak Hill Llamas, is the most charming opportunity to walk with llamas on the Jurrasic Coast. You’ll enjoy scenic views as you feed, groom, train or walk the llamas depending on the type of experience you choose to do. You’ll also get the opportunity to observe them from the llama-lookout gazebo where you’ll learn all about their gentle and friendly nature. 

3. Haldon Forest Park

Heading outdoors during the winter months when it’s particularly chilly is the perfect opportunity to wrap up warm and make use of your woolly hat and gloves that get put to the side once the sun arrives. Winter is the best time to explore Exeter’s beautiful surrounding countryside, when there aren't many people around, giving you a real feeling of escapism. The park is made up of 3,500 acres of woodland with an array of trails no matter the type of walker you are, whether you're more of a casual stroller or experienced hiker. There are five walking routes and five cycling trails, all of which can be enjoyed when you head just 15 minutes out of Exeter.

4. Darts Farm 

Reconnect with nature at Darts Farm, situated just 13 minutes from The Devon Hotel. Darts Farm offers a scenic farm to explore in a vibrant city location, take a stroll around the farm, greet the animals, wind your way through the vegetable fields and discover wildlife in the bird hide overlooking the wetlands. All whilst breathing in the beautiful Devonshire fresh air and taking in the delightful views of the Exe Estuary. 

5. Bowling and Goosemoor Nature Reserve

Bowling and Goosemoor Nature Reserve, also known as Bowling Green Marsh is a great place to learn about migratory and domestic wildfowl in a tranquil setting. Enjoy a scenic and frosty walk around, with beautiful views of the Exe Estuary and the chance to spot seasonal wildlife, in Winter there's a chance to spot wigeons, pintails, teals, shovelers and other ducks that gather, particularly either side of the high tide. This reserve is a pleasant walk not far from the quaint estuary town Topsham itself as well as Darts Farm, making it easy for you to combine these outings. 

6. Exeter Cathedral 

A stay in Exeter is not complete without paying a visit to Exeter Cathedral which is the core of the city centre forming a hotspot where locals and visitors alike tend to congregate to take in the view. Dating back 900 years, Exeter Cathedral is one of England’s most beautiful medieval cathedrals and one of the finest examples of decorated Gothic architecture in this country. Children under 18 can enter for free when accompanied by a paying adult. Expert guided tours, trails and activities are all included within the admission price.

7. Retail Therapy

Exeter is a city that boasts a spectrum of shopping opportunities, with an excellent mix of shops that can be found within easy walking distance of each other. From big names to be found within their two shopping centres and sprightly high street to chic boutiques, independent and vintage fashions, jewellery, crafts and gifts in the cobbled Gandy Street and quirky West Quarter. Indulge yourself this winter and discover the shopping gems of Exeter. 

Whatever you decide to do on your Winter break, Exeter forms the best backdrop to discover your newfound enjoyment of colder months in a place full of quirky charm. Book a stay at The Devon Hotel, and retreat back to warm surroundings after a day of exploring.