A photographer’s guide to Devon in autumn from Hannah Rose

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Ruth Richardson

Sawday's Expert

5 min read

Autumn brings a feast of visual delights to Devon. The skies are striped by the flight paths of migrating swallows, woodland glitters with gilded leaves, and villages come alive with festivals celebrating local produce. Hannah Rose, the writer and photographer behind @PostcardsbyHannah, fell in love with Devon on her recent stay at Philham Water Cottage. This traditional thatched cottage, a stone’s throw from some of the region’s most dramatic scenery and prettiest villages, was the perfect base for Hannah to explore Devon with her camera. Here Hannah shares her recommendations for visiting Devon in autumn.

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Recommendations from Hannah Rose @PostcardsByHannah

Take a woodland walk

Stroll through landscapes filled with red, orange and golden hues when embarking on a typical woodland walk in Devon. Forests and woods are perfect for exactly what Devon is all about, moving away from the world’s stresses and taking life a little slower.

Halsden Nature Reserve is one of the county’s top wildlife viewing spots, in which you could even see otters! Trails weave through woodland towards the banks and water meadows of the River Torridge and birdsong accompanies you as you head down towards the rushing river. The New Inn in nearby Roborough is perfect for a traditional pub lunch or dinner after your walk!

Other options are Plymbridge, a National Trust wooded valley where you can meander along the beautiful River Plym, or the Bovey Valley Woods – a mix of ancient woodland and wildflower-rich wet meadows that transform into a pleasant shade of orange throughout late October and early November. Bear in mind that the latter can be a challenge, thanks to the dramatic Dartmoor landscape.

Head to a food festival

If you like food, you will love Devon in autumn, as there are plenty of food events to throw yourself into throughout September and October.

The Lobster and Crab Feast in Clovelly takes place in early September, celebrating the village’s links to the sustainable fishing of shellfish and the Plymouth Seafood and Harbour Festival, a similarly salty salute, occurs mid-September on the Barbican and Sutton Harbour.

The Dartmouth Food Festival in mid-October is one of the most important dates in Devon’s foodie calendar. Running since 2002, the festival showcases the best of Devon’s culinary suppliers and best chefs, offering parties, food markets, tasting shacks and demonstrations.

View Philham Water Cottage >

Visit a stately home

If you’re a National Trust member, then carry your card in a quick-access holster when you visit Devon, because it has more than its fair share of protected place and properties. 

A blaze of colour floods across the estate at Knightshayes, near Tiverton. The mist rises up in the early mornings, often breaking into a crisp and clear day, perfect for admiring the season’s changing hues. 

Rolling hills surround Compton Castle in Paignton, with orchards full of apples that ripen early in the season. The harvesting of fruit is in full force throughout September and October whilst the surrounding leaves turn golden and begin to fall . 

The showstopper of country homes in Devon, Buckland Abbey, is a flash of red and orange which visitors can admire along one of the estate’s many walking trails. Over 700 years ago the Cistercian monks chose Buckland Abbey as their home and it’s easy to see why! 

The Curious Case of Clovelly 

Clovelly is one of the UK’s most unique villages and makes a great afternoon out, especially when it’s not peak season. It is part of a privately owned estate and entry costs £8.50, which goes towards its upkeep.

During summer it’s hard to walk through the main street due to the number of tourists that grace the village each day, but during autumn it can be much more enjoyable as you wander through the narrow streets of the fishing village at your own pace.

Go Surfing

The new season brings bigger waves, and throughout September and October, the sea is actually at its warmest, even if the air isn’t.

Croyde Bay is often thought of as Devon’s version of Newquay, and when the conditions are right, water lovers can enjoy low-tide barrels and the perfect break. Croyde Bay is also home to its own surf academy, so you don’t need to be a seasoned pro before taking a dip in the water!

Five miles north is Woolacombe Beach, one of England’s best loved beaches thanks to its two mile stretch of soft sand. It’s a great spot for beginners, intermediates and longboarders with a surf centre offering lessons year-round.

All in all, autumn is a great time to visit Devon thanks to the departure of the summer tourists and the remaining mild climate that the south-west is blessed with. There is nowhere better to stay than in a cosy cottage to experience the joys of the English countryside, reconnect with nature, and feel complete and utter peace within yourself. 

Featured places to stay in Devon

Emma and Tim's Cottage

East Prawle, Devon

  • From £122 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 3 rooms for 5

Mazzard Farm Cottages

Ottery St. Mary, Devon

  • From £45 p/n
  • Self-catering
  • 13 rooms for 2 - 10

The Turtley Corn Mill

Avonwick, Devon

  • From £150 p/n
  • Inn
  • 8 rooms for 2

Browse all our places to stay in Devon >

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Ruth Richardson

Sawday's Expert

Ruth loves a good story. Following a decade living in London and working in publishing, her ears are always pricked for a spicy plot twist or unforgettable character. She delights in meeting hosts and discovering the history that brought saffron to her spaghetti, the hiking detours that will lead to temple ruins, and why someone cares so passionately about their special corner of the world. She loves that as a marketer for Sawday’s she can share these stories with others too.
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