The 10 best experiences in the South West  holiday cottages

The 10 best experiences in the South West

Kate W 28 May 2019

Holidays should be easy. They are all about relaxation, especially here in Devon where we are used to living life at a slow and laid-back pace.

Take a load off with one of these fantastic activities. Try Devonshire cider or let discover the remarkable Dartmoor National Park with a knowledgeable guide Fly birds of prey or make a one-of-a-kind silver ring for someone special.


Everything on offer is aimed at providing a fun way to unwind while on your break. Many of the activities and sessions are run by small business owners, they can be tailored for your needs creating an incredibly special holiday adventure. With one of these unique workshops, you can have the opportunity to get a real insight into the local area or have fun learning a new skill during your break.

What will you get up to during your holiday to Devon?

1. Take a walking tour of Dartmoor National Park

Take a walking tour of Dartmoor National Park

Walk, hike or ramble across the moorland with a knowledgeable personal guide.

Where else can you experience such majestic scenery? Dartmoor National Park is the largest open space in in the south. It has been the backdrop for many TV shows and films including the BBC's Sherlock Holmes adventure, Hound of the Baskervilles and Steven Spielberg's War Horse. Dartmoor is an exceptional landscape.

Take advantage of your time in Devon with a walking tour on Dartmoor. Learn about the national park's intriguing history and discover insights about the area from a local. You could also meet some of the famous ponies that wander the moors.

2. Or go running off-road over the moors

Go running off-road over the moors

If you’re ready to discover the region differently, running across the hills and troughs of the land could be the choice for you. Connect with nature in this wild, natural space, take in extraordinary views and.

Beginners are welcome and off-roading on Dartmoor could be a great introduction for you into the world of running. More experienced runners will get a rush from the experience and can benefit from the chance to strengthen muscles you may never normally use to navigate the unspoilt moorland.

3. Taste traditional Devonian cider

Taste traditional Devonian cider

Indulge in a cider tour and tasting at a family-run cider farm.

See the cider process in action and chat to those who produce it on this quintessentially traditional farm in the Devonshire countryside. Explore the orchards and hear all about different varieties of apples chosen to complement the conditions of the region and for their extraordinary flavour. Watch the cider press in action and taste test the different varieties, which include the delectable classic, naturally sweet and elderflower ciders.

Finally, complete this entirely Devonian experience by sitting down to a cream tea (cream first!) or well-deserved lunch. As a memento of this experience you can, of course, purchase a bottle or two of your favourite cider: a great treat to take back to your holiday cottage or home as gifts for friends and family.

4. Create your own silver ring

Create your own silver ring

Create some handmade jewellery with Maria in Exeter, a great introduction into silversmithing.

Take this chance to make yourself a special and irreplaceable memento of your trip. Maria will show you how to cut, file, solder, sand and polish, and you can finish off your ring with different textures and patinas. It could be a great romantic experience or a chance to make a special gift for a birthday or anniversary. It’s ideal for individual or groups as well who can create a unique piece of wearable artwork that can be kept forever.

Her artist’s studio is located in Exeter. Maria is inspired by the wonderful textures and objects around her and you might feel the same, with stunning horizons and excellent natural items to spark your imagination.

5. Fly and feed birds of prey

Fly and feed birds of prey

Meet the hawks at Dartmoor Hawking.

Found on Dartmoor, you can get close to these magnificent wild creatures. You will have the option of interacting with the hawks or simply taking photos and chatting to their handler.

Fly and feed the birds in this private setting, watch them swoop low overhead and high above. It’s a hawk walk so you’ll venture through the countryside and woodland, so ensure you wear comfy clothes and shoes. If you’re staying in the nearby South Hams don’t miss out on this opportunity to meet these impressive animals.

6. Learn to cook

Taste a delicious Sri Lankan secret recipe

Learn to cook at an award-winning cookery school while staying in Devon.

Rather try an experience where you can sit back and relax? Learn to cook you up a delicious meal in the comfort of your holiday cottage.

If you are travelling in a group, this is the perfect way to treat yourself to a special and unforgettable dining experience. With a range of very special (and very secret) recipes and cooking techniques on offer, you can enjoy an unexpected treat in the South West.

7. Get creative with a painting workshop

Get creative with a painting workshop

Creative types will enjoy a painting workshop in West Devon

If you’ve never tried working with oils before, this is your chance! They offer a two-day workshop using acrylics and oil paints, so you can get to grips with two different materials. With a mix of demonstrations, drawing exercises and en plein air painting, this could be a great way to have fun and take in the fantastic Devon landscape during your getaway.

Develop your skills by using peripheral view, observation, imagination, atmosphere and personal response to influence your work.

8. Try a class in drum and rattle making

Try a class in drum and rattle making

Get back to yourself while making a rattle or drum with Nigel.

More into crafting and building? Make yourself a drum or a rattle with Nigel or Carolyn. You could make musical instruments and work on your inner self during a session with her. You’ll work with natural objects such as hide, leather, wood, antler handle, stone and earth pigments collected from Dartmoor.

Both workshops run until you are finished, meaning this workshop can be tailored to your skill and time commitments. The experience gives you the chance to connect to yourself and your surroundings if you would like while on holiday.

9. Get making with traditional wood carving

Get making with traditional wood carving

Handcraft a wooden bowl or spoon using age-old methods.

With some of his techniques dating back to the Iron Age, you could discover a new appreciation for working with your hands. One thing is for certain, you'll come away with a beautiful bowl that you can be proud of

This traditional woodturning experience is a great way to relax for a couple of hours on holiday while the spoon carving experience may better suit two or a group of five. For the spoon carving, Zoe will teach you how to produce a wooden spoon without the need for electricity. Come away from your lesson with skills to make wooden tools from scratch using your bare hands and carving tools.

10. Test your aim at the Rapid Fire Shooting Range

Test your aim at the Rapid Fire Shooting Range

Head down to the Crackshot for a little target practice.

For a real taste of country life and something a little more up-tempo, why not head down to the shooting range? You can try the 1-hour shooting session, the full experience or hire out the whole place, perfect for a hen or stag party in need of an exciting group getaway. With the choice of air rifles and BB air pistols, you have plenty of equipment to get started with. Got a gamer in the family or a couple of teenagers that need occupying? There is even a state-of-the-art simulator - a fantastic chance to try a big screen shooting experience.

The team will run through the safety precautions with you before you’re welcome to have a go shooting at the range of targets on offer throughout their three shooting rooms. Take your pick and enjoy an adrenaline-filled experience.

Which of these exciting Devon experiences takes your fancy? If you’re spending a few days in the South West, then why not try out a couple of different workshops and make this trip to remember.

If you are yet to book your stay in Devon then take a look through our collection of holiday cottages. We have 'stays' by the coast and in the rural countryside, so you’ll soon find your perfect Devon escape.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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