10 Un-ordinary Travel Ideas for South West England
The South West of England has long been known for attracting many people to the region on their holidays. The region has the longest coastline in England and is the largest by land mass. Many of the counties of South West England have played a major part in history and have a rich heritage. It is also responsible for some great writers and artists due to beautifully inspirational landscapes. Besides, food is a big part of South West culture with plenty of areas to source fresh ingredients. As you can tell, the South West has so much to offer, pleasing every traveler, and here are 10 un-ordinary travel ideas for South West England.
Author Name: Dean Lissaman
Author Bio: Dean Lissaman is a Devon England based travel blogger who loves to write about travel for everyone to enjoy. You can find him exploring the open moorland and South West countryside or discovering new places around the UK and Europe. Read more at Life Out The Hive.
1. Longleat Animal Safari
It’s not common to find a Safari Park in the UK, and out of the very few currently available in Britain, Longleat is the most famous, being the first and most successful of them all. Located in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, it allows visitors to get to enjoy animals, such as tigers, wolves, rhinos, lions and many more, in a natural environment. Longleat Safari offers VIP tours where you will go riding around the park in a zebra print Land Rover Defender. On these tours you get to meet the friendlier animals face to face like giraffes, elephants and many more. A truly exciting and unique experience is getting to feed the wolves, lions and tigers.
The South West is known for being an adventure playground for anyone wishing to take part in some action-packed water sports. Sailing is one of the most adventurous activities you can do in the South West of England, with miles and miles of coastline to enjoy, hidden coves to visit and wonderful harbour towns to stop off at. If a more adrenaline-filled sailing experience is something you’re looking for, then the weather conditions in the South West are just perfect - often windy with plenty of empty horizon to speed around in.
3. Wreck Diving
Wreck Diving is often associated with the Caribbean. Still, with just as many ships populating the English Channel and adjacent waters, it is only natural to expect history to leave something behind there either. The area near Perranporth is known for ships wrecks and their treasure still washes up on the shore occasionally. From the coastlines of Devon all the way down to the tips of Cornwall, wrecks scatter the sea bed waiting to be explored. There are over 40,000 wrecks in British waters with a lion’s share of them being found off the South West coast, albeit well hidden. Some are protected, but many others are open for exploration with tours operating out of Plymouth and other coastal towns. There are modern wrecks such as naval vessels or medieval ships transporting valuable goods, you just have to do your research. As you can see in the picture, with stormy seas like this not many ships can survive going close to the shore.
4. Dartmoor Bike Rides
Images of Dartmoor conjure up thoughts of wild landscapes, cosy pubs with roaring fires and hiking to the peaks of ancient tors. Despite Dartmoor being the place where all of this is possible, one activity seems to happen all year round, rain or shine: bike riding comes in many forms whether its off road or on road. Dartmoor is the perfect place to take your bike out and adventure across rolling hills, streams, woods and historic sites. If you go road biking then you will be pleased to learn that the roads are always kept in great condition despite its rural setting. There are many trackways available for any form of off-road biking and there are some great maps available to those wishing to take part.
The South West of England is known for its rugged landscape, an area of the country where going up and down hills is second nature. It’s only reasonable to think that with such a rugged landscape comes a more interesting underground network. Somerset is a great place for caving and Cheddar Gorge is one of the most popular places with an underground adventure land filled with tunnels, lakes and waterfalls. The caves in the South West have quite a history, in particular Wookey Hole, where the remains of ancient animals including rhinoceros, lions, bears and hyenas, as well as human tools have been found. Some caves are free to explore and it’s common to find caves scattered all over the South West. There are many companies throughout the South West that take tours and groups into all levels of caving.
6. Chilli Farm Tasting
Chilli tasting is something you may associate with hotter climates. However, deep in the heart of Devon there is a chilli farm that loves making an experience out of this special plant. Devon Chilli Farm was proclaimed to have the UK’s best chillies by one of Britain’s most successful chefs Jamie Oliver. Not only do they grow them, but also make them into sauces, marinades, chocolate, and all kinds of preserves. If you would like to taste something with a bit of flavour, Devon Chilli Farm gives you the opportunity to experience a tour of all their facilities, learn a bit more about chillies, and take part in some tasting sessions to see if you can handle the heat.
Letterboxing is an activity that stems back 150 years, which entails finding strategically placed letterboxes all over Dartmoor. A stamp and the visitors’ book are placed in the letterbox (usually a weatherproof box or container), which is well hidden. Having found the letterbox, the letterboxer will take a copy of the stamp for their own book and leave a personal mark in the visitors’ book to prove he or she had been there. This is not something that you can complete over a weekend, it’s a lifestyle as there are thousands of letterboxes waiting to be found.
Zorbing is an activity that involves rolling down a hill inside a large inflatable ball you’re strapped in, so no harm will come to you. Zorbing is known to be an exhilarating activity much like a rollercoaster. This event is very popular in the South West of England, because of all the hills and rough terrain. Hence, many companies operating this service out of Cornwall, making it easy to book group days or even individual goes. Zorbing comes in some other forms too, aqua zorbing which involves rolling around on a lake or pool in a giant inflatable ball, the other type is flat land zorbing, this is great fun in large groups as you can bounce into each other.
9. Gin Making
Gin is on trend and the South West’s love of Gin is no different from the famous Plymouth Gin created in 1793 to modern Gin distilleries like Salcombe Gin. If your love of gin is something that makes your mouth water then you have to try making your own. Salcombe Gin offers experience days where you can create your own Gin: you bring the ingredients which make your gin taste unique and Salcombe Gin will guide you through the rest. Because the South West is home to Britain’s oldest distillery it would be wrong not to visit them in the heart of Plymouth: there are tours you can take to explore this old distillery and find out what makes Plymouth Gin so popular.
10. Steam Train
There are many ways to travel around the South West and one which is back in fashion is travelling by steam. The South West has one of the most beautiful countrysides in the UK, rolling hills, ancient bridges and amazing scenery are all the things you get a glimpse of when travelling on the many South West steam trains. Another great way to enjoy a trip around the South West countryside is to dine in a luxury carriage and enjoy some wonderful food, many of the steam railways in the South West offer these experiences.