Don’t let the weather put you off! Why not pull on your boots and discover what’s outside the city walls? Exeter is surrounded by green rolling hills, blue coastlines and heritage towns, filled with independent restaurants and cafes with innovative menus often using local produce. Whether it’s a riverside bike ride or a stroll through Bath’s backstreets, there’s plenty to explore near Exeter.
Let Out Your Inner Surfer Dude
Exeter is under 2 hours drive from many of Devon and Cornwall’s fantastic beaches. Some of the best beaches for surfing nearby include Polzeath, Newquay and Croyde. Use Magicseaweed to look up the surf forecast ahead of time and make sure there will be some waves. If you have a car, it’s not too far to drive to any of these beaches. If you’re up for a group trip, check out the Exeter-based Facebook group Come Surf With Me to find others keen to surf, and share a lift out West. There are plenty of surf schools where you can brush up your skills or hire a board and wetsuit. It’s warm once you’re in!
Dust Off Your Bike or Jump on the Train
Trains from Exeter run regularly alongside the river to Dawlish Warren station, where you can jump off and take a scenic stroll down towards Dawlish town. To extend the walk, start by diverting around Dawlish Warren, or just keep on walking past Dawlish to the coastal town of Teignmouth. If cycling is more your speed, the 17.5 mile long Exe Estuary Trail will take you all the way from the Exeter Quay to Dawlish and even further without very much road cycling at all. There are also two charming waterside pubs to stop at along the way: Double Locks and The Turf. In Dawlish, try out one of the independent cafés or restaurants. Jack Sprat’s serves everything from toasties to fish cakes, or if you’re mad about mushrooms then the Forest Fungi Farm Shop and Cafe will be right up your street.
Get Out and Explore Dartmoor
Discover the bleak and moody landscape that inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. Dartmoor is not short of places for scenic walks. Check out Visit Dartmoor’s selection of circular walks to follow, or just pick a path and see where it takes you. Wherever you go, beware of the Hound!
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, take shelter at the Museum of Dartmoor Life, which features a diverse collection of artefacts from the individuals and communities of Dartmoor. There are three floors, each with their own theme: the ground floor exhibits historic Dartmoor trades; the middle floor focuses on the military and the prison, while the top floor features artefacts from the Bronze Age. For dinner, it doesn’t get much more local than the Chagford Inn’s beef dishes: the Dexter cows are reared just half a mile away. The whole cow is used and what is on the menu depends on what cuts are left.
Soak in the Roman Baths
If you’re up for a city break, hop on the train to Bath at Exeter St. Davids. In around an hour and a half, you’ll find yourself surrounded by limestone crescents and Roman ruins. The whole city is a UNESCO site, so get lost in the back streets and admire the beautiful architecture. The Roman Baths, though pricey and full of tourists, is a fantastic museum featuring many incredibly preserved Roman artefacts. If you’d rather skip the baths, poke your head into the attached Pump Room restaurant and peek through the windows at part of the bath complex below.
If you’re all cultured out, Bath is also a great shopping destination. Besides the big high street stores, Bath is home to a wide array of independents: Magalleria stocks magazines from around the world, whilst Paxton and Whitfield sell something a little smellier, with more types of cheese than you knew existed. Time for a coffee? Head to Society Cafe at one of their two locations. For lunch, The Whole Bagel does some really tasty fillings with potato salad and coleslaw on the side, with gluten-free and vegetarian options available.
Fill Up on Scrumptious Seafood Straight from the Sea
The beach towns of Exmouth and Sidmouth are easily accessible by bus or train. Take a walk along the South West Coast Path, taking in the stunning sea views and unique red cliffs. In Sidmouth, you can pick up one of the UK’s freshest crab sandwiches from Sidmouth Trawlers for a picnic on the beach. If the weather isn’t in your favour, the Pea Green Boat has a stunning menu with plenty of fresh fish and seafood to choose from. If you’re heading in the other direction, hop on a boat to the floating platform that houses Exmouth’s River Exe Cafe for a truly unique seafood dining experience.
A day out of the Exeter bubble will have you feeling fresh with renewed love toward the city. And if you are lacking inspiration, check out the KOMPAS app to discover some hidden gems around Exeter.