A WILD ADVENTURE TO DEVON & EXMOOR
When looking for adventure, it can seem that we need to cast our net wide and far. The world is home to some incredible adventure destinations, but often, it is on our own doorstep that we can seek out the most enriching of experiences. I moved to England on the cusp of becoming a teenager, and it was on trips to the South West, discovering the intoxicating, wild beauty of the coastlines, of the unique English seaside and surf culture, that I really became bewitched by what was on my own doorstep.
I love to showcase the best of adventure and travel and when it comes to planning a trip on your home turf, there’s nothing quite like it. Every time I explore England I find a little more magic. On this trip, I embarked on my own my own microgap experiencing the best bits of a gap year in a few days, right here in the UK. Often we feel that it might be too late to, once we have passed our rite of passage teenage years, to have a gap year. But the best elements of a gap year can be crafted into mini breaks.
On this trip, I set off for Devon & Exmoor on a road trip with my friend Caylee, in search of new discoveries, and had my mind blown by the natural beauty and out-there adventures a stone’s throw from the country capitol. Check out below all my adventure musts, where to eat and sleep and more, and the full video edit of our epic trip.
A few shorts hours after leaving London, we pitched up at Ilfracombe, a place I was shocked I hadn’t yet explored. With the awe-inspiring beauty of Damien Hirst’s cast-iron Verity statue pointing her spear towards the deep-blue ocean, there’s a captivating magic in the town, surrounded by hills, with its rich history dating back to the Iron Age & the Romans.
Jumping on a boat with Ilfracombe Sea Safari, seagulls calling overhead, sunlight casting glowing fingers of warmth across our faces, our excitement as we headed towards the infamous Lundy Island to dive with seals was in overdrive. As the ancient Island loomed in the distance, our Captain animatedly told us tales of ancient ship wrecks, how “Lundy” is Norse for puffin, of ancient burial sites, and how dolphins, puffins, sometimes whales, and of course, seals, make this mystical island their home.
Jumping into the crisp water, the locals quickly made themselves known, raising inquisitive heads on rocks, and diving beneath our flippers. The crystal water, rich kelpy forests beneath our feet, and craggy landscape seemingly whispering tales of it’s wild and colourful past captivated us, and we spent hours in the water, swimming with the beautiful gentle giants beneath us.
Mooring back at Ilfracombe harbour, fingers of orange-gold sunset beginning to creep across the hills, our minds were both blown at the staggering beauty of Ilfracombe, and the captivating mystery of Lundy Island.
Excited to see where we would be hanging out hats for our adventure, we set out for Longlands Devon, our glamping lodge nestled between stunning hills and lavender-strewn fields. With sunset casting a staggering glow across the entrance, we hiked up to our own lodge, tossing some logs on our fireplace and making ourselves at home in the cosy bedrooms.
With dinner of fresh salmon ready for us to cook in our own oven ourselves, we prepped our “oven” for dinner, and tip-toed down to the hot-tub. With twinkling stars overhead, the call of owls surrounding us and the moon winking to our right, tucking in for an early night and for dawn patrol for a surf never felt better.
Waking up early to catch the best of the surf, I linked up with Nick Thorn from Nick Thorn Surf School to chat conditions and borrow a longboard. Woolacombe and its surrounding beaches are home to some of the most iconic and popular surf breaks in the UK. With rolling moors surrounding the 3 mile long, soft, golden-sand Woolacombe Beach, you can experience the best of English surf at a number of amazing surf spots in and around Woolacombe. With the wind on our side for the morning we paddled out, getting in a good session before having a hot tea and cruising around Woolacombe town.
Working up a serious appetite in the water, we headed to the Exmoor White Horse Inn, ravenous, surfed-out stomachs happily tucking into freshly-caught trout. Sitting with the owner Peter, a keen photographer, we learnt Exmoor is Europe’s first light reserve, it being one of the best places in the world to see the Milky Way, such is the clarity of the sky.
With so many walks starting directly from the White Horse Inn, the carbon footprint if you stay there is pretty good, and with horseback riding and kayaking close by, Exmoor National Park is rich in adventure musts.
Belly’s full, we decided to hit up Dunkery Beacon, a hike taking you to the highest point of Exmoor, the hill again has a rich historical background, dating as far back the Bronze Age when human visitors first came. Blanketed in a rich, purple heather, moss, and lichen, the National Trust protected Dunkery is a great hike to challenge yourself and see unparalleled views at the top of Exmoor. Breathing in the crisp air, the scent of heather, hearing the sound of kestrels and skylarks, I was reminded again, how we search far for the greatest adventures, and how often, it’s on our own home’s doorstep.
All Images by Caylee Hankins
Video by Simon Cox
Find out more and plan your own Microgap experience here!
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