Inspired by VisitEngland’s Escape the Everyday campaign to help promote businesses and destinations across the country, the Visit Exeter team have been getting out and about to find exciting ways of escaping the everyday right here on our doorstep.

Read on for our tips on making your ‘everyday’ that bit more exciting…

Freedom to Explore

Cycle the Granite Way - Debbie Lewis

A good thing to come from the COVID crisis, has been having more time to do some of the things on my ‘must do’ list.

Despite growing up in Devon, I’d never cycled the Granite Way – an 18km route which forms part of the National Cycle Network Route 27, linking Devon’s two coasts. So a few weeks ago, we hitched up the bike rack and set off to discover one of Devon’s most scenic bike rides.

Starting from Okehampton Station, just a half-hour drive from Exeter, this beautiful, mainly traffic-free route largely follows the course of the former Southern Region railway line, crossing viaducts and passing through sweeping, open moorland.

The route ends in the pretty village of Lydford, where we re-fuelled on Devon pasties from the local farm shop. We found a great picnic spot in the grounds of Lydford Castle, originally a Norman fort.

If you’re after freedom to explore, then this is a great option for the whole family. The route is well marked, safe and level, with plenty of granite benches along the way for a breather. The views are stunning, and the pasties are pretty special too!

 Lydford Castle on the Granite Way


Mountain bike through Haldon Forest - Debbie Lewis

Just 15 minutes from Exeter, Haldon Forest Park provides ample opportunity to escape the everyday and explore to your heart’s content.

Whether you want a quiet gentle stroll, or an exhilarating mountain biking experience, there are a range of walking and cycling trails to suit all abilities, as well as a pump loop, cycle skills area, orienteering courses and so much more waiting to be discovered.

The day we visited was perfect for biking. As a family group, we decided to split up, with two of us taking the easy level green trail, and the rest taking the more challenging ‘moderate’ blue trail. The green trail was relatively flat and suitable for most bikes, whereas the blue trail required some basic off-road riding skill to navigate some steep slopes, roots and rocks.

Both trails offered fantastic lookout points and places to sit and watch the world go by. Once we’d completed the trails, it was time to rest our weary legs at one of the many picnic benches overlooking the treetop walkways and high wires of Go Ape!

Haldon Forest Park is a great day out. It’s so close to Exeter, yet feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Suitable for all ages, it’s the perfect playground to escape the everyday, and wear the kids out at the same time!

Haldon Forest Park

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Go Ape! - Claire Toze

I am a regular visitor to Haldon Forest Park as it's right on my doorstep, but I'd never tried Go Ape before, so to see Haldon from above was a new and exciting experience! I booked in to do the Tree Top Adventure with my two daughters, aged 5 and 8 (the Tree Top Challenge is a bit tricker, for ages 10+). After a safety briefing and practice on a low ropes course first, we were free to head up into the tree canopy to start our adventure. 

There are four separate courses, each with a zip wire finish to return to the forest floor! Once clipped on by a supervisor, you stay attached by carabiner to a continuous metal cable on the course, and once it’s clipped on by the supervisors, it won’t unclip until you’ve completed the whole circuit. I would highly recommend this experience for families, the children were fearless and it was great to see them out in the fresh air, getting active and making memories!  

Go Ape

Go Ape! at Haldon Forest Park‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎

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Walking through Devon’s Beauty Spots - Dawn Ireland

In Exeter, we are fortunate to be surrounded by many beautiful nature spots, such as Killerton House and Gardens.

Killerton House is Georgian and set within 6,400 acres of farmland, meaning the landscape is open and picturesque, making it perfect to go out to enjoy the fresh air and the great outdoors. Since lockdown restrictions have eased I’ve spent a lot of time admiring these wonderful grounds!

There is a breath-taking array of colours and scents throughout the gardens allowing the quintessential opportunity to “stop and smell the roses.” You may even decide to stop and feel the grass between your toes and eat al fresco whilst enjoying the views of this captivating countryside…

Gardens at National Trust Killerton House


Fish at Budleigh Salterton - Debbie Lewis

In Devon you’re never far from the sea. Just 15 miles south-east of Exeter, lies Budleigh Salterton – a pretty town within East Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We were keen to try something a little different, so fishing rods at the ready we headed to the town’s pebble beach for a spot of fishing.

We’d heard that the best chances of catching something was at dusk and an hour either side of the changing tide, so with the sun going down, we set up our rods and started casting.

Fishing at Budleigh Beach

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This turned out to be a perfect time to enjoy the beach with only a few fellow fishermen and hardy sea swimmers around. It wasn’t long before we caught our first mackerel, before others followed.

With the rhythmic noise of the waves on the pebbles, and the moonlight shining on the water, it was pretty easy to forget the ‘everyday’ entirely!

Budleigh Beach

Treat Yourself

Paddleboarding and Picnics - Jessica Mooney

Once the lockdown restrictions started to ease I found myself hopping on my bike a little bit more than usual. As I live close to Exeter Quay, I spent a lot of time cycling to Topsham, Turf Locks and for the first time ever I cycled from Exeter to Exmouth!

Darts Farm Shopping Village

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As I made my way along the Exe Estuary Cycle Trail, I saw many people out on the water with their paddleboards and having the most amazing time… because of this I was inspired to purchase one for myself!

I have to admit this is the best purchase I have made in a long time. Everyone in the country has found lockdown incredibly challenging and having the opportunity to get out on the water has certainly allowed me to ‘Escape the Everyday’ and have some fun! We’re incredibly lucky to live near the water - I’ve paddled along Exeter Canal, the Exe Estuary, Budleigh Beach and my personal favourites have been Anstey’s Cove near Babbacombe and Salcombe (both of which are a short drive from Exeter!)

Don’t forget your lifejackets and buoyancy aids! Here are a list of places where you can hire your own paddleboards, kite-surfing boards, canoes, kayaks and safety equipment to get you started if you don’t have your own:

South Beach, Salcombe

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Another way I’ve been ‘treating myself’ is by sitting outside in the fresh air on a recently purchased picnic blanket, delicious goodies in hand and good conversation with a few friends! It’s definitely made me feel a little normal in these strange times and allows you to catch up with your loved ones whilst maintaining social-distancing.

I always make sure I have a punnet of strawberries with me and sometimes even an afternoon tea! You can either make your own with locally-sourced produce from places like Darts Farm or Greendale Farm Shop or order a pre-made cream tea box from Exeter Golf and Country Club.

DIY cream tea at Budleigh Beach


The Granite Way - Cycle Route
Cycle Route
Meldon viaduct

This is a new, truly spectacular and mostly traffic free cycle route through rural Devon with fantastic views of Dartmoor and the surrounding countryside.

Haldon Forest Park - Forestry England
Country Park/Nature Reserve
Strolling through Haldon Forest Park and enjoying the stunning views

Whether you want a gentle stroll or an exhilarating mountain biking experience, there’s something for everyone at Haldon Forest Park. Open 364 days of the year, there is something for every interest to connect you with the great outdoors.

National Trust Killerton House & Gardens
Historic House/Palace
Killerton pond

Explore Killerton, one of Devon's great estates, with a landscape garden, parkland, Georgian house and renowned fashion collection.

The Exe Estuary Trail
Cycle Route
Exe Estuary Trail, vintage bike (c) mathilde le floch

The Exe Estuary is a 26 mile cycle route & walkway which goes along the whole Exe Estuary through Exmouth, Exeter & Dawlish.

Exe Estuary
Country Park/Nature Reserve
Exe Estuary - Andy Hay

The Exe Estuary is of international importance for wintering waders and wildfowl, supporting 1000s of birds. One of the best opportunities to view the wildlife of the estuary is at the the RSPB's two nature reserves.

AS Watersports
Internal of AS Watersports

A S Watersports are the south west's premier canoe, kayak, sit on top and fishing kayak retailers. Over 30 years of experience means our friendly expert staff can give you the best advice.

Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre
Water Sport
View from across the Quay at Haven Banks

Outdoor activity centre. Sailing, windsurfing, caving, climbing and orienteering, raft building, canoeing. Overnight camps and residential visits.

Saddles and Paddles
Waymarked Trail
Saddles and Paddles

Saddles & Paddles is a local business based on the historic Exeter quayside that offers something different for those looking for an outdoor adventure.

Darts Farm Shopping Village
Buy Online
Darts Farm

Darts Farm is a vibrant, nationally award-winning Farm Shop based in the historic estuary town of Topsham, overlooking the beautiful Clyst Valley. A unique lifestyle shopping experience with a working farm at its heart, Darts Farm showcases the best food and drink the region has to offer and is home to a selection of handpicked specialist retailers. These include The AGA Shop, Fired Earth, Orange Tree, Cotswold, RSPB, Energy Hair and the Treatment Loft.

Greendale Farm Shop
On-site butchers' department, stocking meat from the nearby family farm.

Deep in the heart of the East Devon countryside, surrounded by 15 acres of farmland, you’ll find the award-winning Greendale Farm Shop and its family-friendly café. Full of fresh, locally-sourced produce, this welcoming shop has become a must-visit destination.

Wear Park Restaurant at Exeter Golf and Country Club
Sunday Roast at Wear Park Restaurant

Located on the ground floor of our Georgian manor house, with views across the putting green and 18th, you can choose to dine in the bar, restaurant or outside on the veranda or terrace.

Go Ape! Haldon
Adventure Park/Playground
Go Ape!

Go Ape is the UK’s Treetop Adventure and Treetop Challenge courses. Ziplines, Obstacles and Tarzan swings.



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