Devon

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Additional Information

Find more Devon information on the sites listed below.

  • Official Web Site
    Devon's official tourist information site. Find things to do in Devon, what's on, restaurants, itineraries, areas to visit and leisure activities.

Devon is a large county in South West England, bordered by Cornwall to the west, and Dorset and Somerset to the east. It is unique among English counties, in that it has two separated coastlines, on the English Channel and Bristol Channel branches of the Atlantic. Devonshire is a common but entirely unofficial alternative name, often indicating a traditional or historical context.

Devon is the third largest of the English counties, and has a population of 1,109,900. The county town is the cathedral city of Exeter, and the county contains two independent unitary authorities, the port city of Plymouth and the Torbay conurbation of seaside resorts, in addition to Devon County Council itself. Much of the county is rural or National Park land (365 square miles, or 945 km, are occupied by Dartmoor), and it has consequently, by British standards, a low population density.

The Dorset and East Devon Coast, known as the Jurassic Coast for its geology and geographical features, is the only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in England. Geologically, Devon, along with its neighbour Cornwall, is known as the "Cornubian massif". This geology gives rise to the landscapes of Dartmoor and Exmoor, both National Parks. Devon has seaside resorts and historic towns and cities, plus a mild climate, accounting for the large tourist sector of its economy.

Devon was one of the first areas of England settled following the end of the last ice age. Dartmoor is thought to have been settled by Mesolithic hunter-gatherer peoples from about 6000 BC. The Romans held the area under military occupation for around 250 years. Later the area became a frontier between Brythonic Dumnonia and Anglo-Saxon Wessex, and it was absorbed into Wessex by the mid-9th century.

Devon has also featured in most of the civil conflicts in England since the Norman Conquest, including the Wars of the Roses, Perkin Warbeck's rising in 1497, the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549, and the English Civil War. The arrival of William of Orange to launch the Glorious Revolution of 1688 took place at Brixham.

Devon has produced tin, copper and other metals from ancient times. Devon's tin miners enjoyed a substantial degree of independence through Devon's stannary parliament, which dates back to the twelfth century. The last recorded sitting was in 1748.

Devon is the only county in England to have two separated coastlines; the South West Coast Path runs along the entire length of both, around 65% of which is named as Heritage Coast. Inland, the Dartmoor National Park lies wholly in Devon, and the Exmoor National Park lies in both Devon and Somerset. Apart from these areas of high moorland the county has attractive rolling rural scenery, and villages with thatched cob cottages. All these features make Devon a popular holiday destination. The variety of habitats means that there is a wide range of wildlife. A popular challenge among birders is to find over 100 species in the county in a day.[citation needed] The county's wildlife is protected by the Devon Wildlife Trust, a charity which looks after 40 nature reserves.

The landscape of the south consists of rolling hills dotted with small towns, such as Dartmouth, Salcombe, Totnes amongst others. The towns of Torquay and Paignton are the principal seaside resorts on the south coast. The north of the county is very rural with few major towns except Barnstaple, Great Torrington, Bideford and Ilfracombe. East Devon has the first seaside resort to be developed in the county, Exmouth and the more upmarket Georgian town of Sidmouth, headquarters of the East Devon District Council. Exmouth marks the western end of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

Devon gave its name to a geological era: the Devonian era, so named by Adam Sedgwick because the distinctive Old Red Sandstone of Exmoor was studied by geologists here. Devon's other major rock system is the carboniferous sandstone which stretches from Bideford to Bude in Cornwall, and contributes to a gentler, greener, more rounded landscape.

Devon's Exmoor coast has the highest cliffs in southern Britain, culminating in the Great Hangman, a 1043 ft (318 m) "hog-backed" hill with an 820 ft (250 m) cliff-face, located near Combe Martin Bay. Its sister cliff is the 716 ft (218 m) Little Hangman, which marks the edge of Exmoor.

One of the features of the North Devon coast is that Bideford Bay and the Hartland Point peninsula are both west-facing, Atlantic facing coastlines; meaning that a combination of an off-shore (east) wind and an Atlantic swell produce excellent surf. The beaches of Bideford Bay (Woolacombe, Saunton, Westward Ho! and Croyde), along with North Cornwall, and the coast of South Wales, are the main centres of surfing in Britain.

Rising temperatures have led to Devon becoming the first place in modern Britain to commercially cultivate olives.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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