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Leave your cares behind on a leisurely road trip through three of the UK’s most captivating counties.
Perhaps the ultimate luxury is time? And there’s plenty of time to do with as you wish on this lazy two-week road trip around the southwestern corners of England. Starting in sleepy Somerset, make a visit to deep cider country, then carry on to north Devon and the wide-open spaces of Exmoor. Cross to the south Devon coast and stay amidst the dramatic headland of Bolt Tail before hugging the coastline on your way to Cornwall’s prettiest fishing village. Travel all the way to the furthest reaches of the UK mainland before a final stop by the north Cornwall coast.
We’ve criss-crossed the West Country many times, seeking out the best routes, the cosiest accommodation and most engaging experiences, always uncovering so you can get on with discovering. Let this trip be the springboard to your own unique adventure – we can easily tailor it to your specific requirements with an upgrade here, a detour there – just let us know when you enquire.
If a slower travel pace is more your style, check our other “Slowly…” holidays for inspiration.
From wherever is your starting point, we’ll create a bespoke route to get you to your first base via the most interesting route. You’re headed for the village of Wedmore, near the foothills of the Mendips, within a stone’s throw of historic Wells and the awe-inspiring geology of Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole.
Your Accommodation in Wedmore
An archetypal English village pub is where you lay your head for the first two nights of your holiday. There’s a pleasingly rustic informality to proceedings downstairs, with scrubbed wooden floors and whitewashed walls in the popular bar and restaurant. The menu takes its inspiration from River Cottage, changing regularly and making use of the very best local ingredients. Upstairs, each of the seven en-suite rooms is presented with a comforting simplicity, the quality of each element – beds, bedding, soft furnishings and bathrooms – combining to create a soothing place to stay.
Make your way south after breakfast, taking your time as you head through Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve and Avalon Marshes in the shadow of Glastonbury Tor, towards one of Somerset’s best family-owned cider farms. This sprawling, impressive working farm features a distillery, a cider house with 170-year-old vats, barrels and presses and a gorgeous orchard. Take a private tour with a member of this most friendly of families and a leisurely picnic lunch prepared just for you, taken in the orchard.
It’s under two hours as the crow flies today, giving you plenty of time to dawdle. Head west to the coast and get off the main route, taking the twisting coastal roads around Bridgwater Bay, through historic Dunster with its hilltop castle and into wild Exmoor on your way to Lynton in north Devon. Linked to its twin Lynmouth by the world’s only water-powered cliff railway, clifftop Lynton is a great place in which to base yourself for exploring Exmoor and wider north Devon.
Your Accommodation in Lynton
Close to the centre of town, your accommodation in Lynton is a lovely family-owned guest house created from a traditional 19th-century ‘gentleman’s residence’. In summer, the garden is bursting with colour and scent, leading to the sturdy front door. Inside, there’s a distinct calmness to the atmosphere, the traditionally presented rooms complete with all you need for a relaxing stay.
Leave the car behind this morning if you prefer – your accommodation features private parking – don the walking boots and head towards the dramatic Valley of Rocks on the Southwest Coastal Path. Here, you’ll meet a wonderful local guide and head off on a private guided walking tour in this expansive and ancient landscape. Along the way you’ll enjoy a hand-made picnic created from local produce, some of which is sourced at your guide’s own smallholding.
In the afternoon, return to Lynton and get to know this beguiling Devon village.
Another day, if you choose, to forget about driving and explore the tiny, winding streets of Lynton and its clifftop walkways. Descend to Lynmouth for its harbour and beach, ascending back to Lynton by cliff railway. Should you choose to explore further afield, there’s plenty to see within easy striking distance, and we’ll provide all the information you need to make the most of your time.
A rolling coast-to-coast route today, as you head south away from Lynton towards Okehampton and deep into mystical Dartmoor. Cross this vast moorland, perhaps stopping at a remote pub for lunch, emerge at Ivybridge and continue into the South Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, towards your next base at Hope Cove near Bolt Tail headland.
Your Accommodation at Hope Cove
Something a little different for your next two nights here on the south Devon coast. This family-owned gem clinging to a hillside is endlessly appealing, with a sun-kissed terrace overlooking the craggy coastline – a perfect place to take a simple lunch or dinner from the in-house restaurant – and just nine disarmingly simple bedrooms, each with a fully equipped en-suite.
You don’t have to go any further than a few short steps from your accommodation’s front door to find yourself amidst quite staggering scenery. Again, you’re right on the Southwest Coastal Path; follow it around Bolt Head to Palmers Point Lookout, onwards to National Trust Bolberry Down and secluded Soar Mill Cove. A little further afield, the lively town of Salcombe offers superb seafood dining, quirky galleries and shopping.
A fine day on the road today as you head west away from Hope Cove towards the UK’s ‘maritime capital city’ of Plymouth. The Box museum here is a diverting place easily worth an hour or two of your time. Continue west along the coast towards Looe and the Polperro Heritage Coast on your way to the place many believe to be Cornwall’s prettiest fishing village, Mevagissey.
Your Accommodation in Mevagissey
In a fine position just outside the village, enjoying fabulous views of sweeping Mevagissey Bay and Black Head, your accommodation in Mevagissey is a cheerful, family-owned hotel, all gleaming whites and bright sky-blues. There’s a charming simplicity to all aspects here, the friendly owners focused on making guests feel as welcome and comfortable as possible.
The centre of the village and the harbour are just a few minutes’ walk away.
Stroll to the harbour this morning and board the vessel of a local skipper for a one-hour cruise on the (usually) calm waters of Mevagissey. The repurposed fishing boat gives an authentic flavour of Cornish fishing and you’ll hear stories of the history of the village and life here stretching back many centuries. You may even be lucky enough to spot playful dolphins alongside the craft.
Another day to seriously consider doing very little at all if you wish. Lounge on the terrace at your hotel with coffee or something stronger, stroll to the village for a just-caught seafood lunch, a visit to one of its authentic Cornish pubs or to pick up a souvenir or two. Should you fancy exploring further afield, the incredible Eden Project is within 25 minutes’ drive and is a fascinating place to spend the day.
You could easily elect to take the shorter, direct route to Penzance, but where’s the fun in that? Head away from Mevagissey travelling southwest, taking in the Roseland Peninsula with the village of St Mawes, the evocative Lizard Heritage Coast and perhaps wonderful Rinsey Head as you snake your way to Penzance.
Your Accommodation in Penzance
High on a hill overlooking the town’s working harbour, your accommodation in Penzance is a deeply impressive place, a sympathetically restored and modernised Georgian townhouse, filled with art, antiques and mid-century modern furniture. Your host couldn’t be more welcoming and revels in providing a hearty ‘kitchen supper’ on selected evenings. Rooms are each individually shaped and styled, with delightful hidden tech and heart stopping views.
Enjoy a hearty breakfast in the basement kitchen – perhaps a starter of homemade granola and fruit, followed by a fish special – before meeting your local guide for a private walking tour of this most enchanting town. Rich in history of smuggling, with winding 18th-century streets as well as a tropical garden and lively contemporary art scene, your guide will bring the story of Penzance to life.
Later, perhaps continue around the promenade to visit staggering St Michael’s Mount, the unique and magical offshore jewel.
Stay put or head out? The choice is yours. There’s a wealth of fascinating detail within easy reach of Penzance; the picturesque village of Mousehole, incredible cliffside Minack Theatre and, of course, Land’s End. Carry on towards St Ives for its own Tate Gallery and fabulous beaches, before making your way back to Penzance in time for dinner.
Having travelled as far south as possible, today you begin the journey north. As ever, there’s no hurry, as you perhaps round the southwestern tip of the country and take to the slow routes through National Trust Godrevy, the village of Portreath, St Agnes Heritage Coast and the incredible surfers’ beach at Perranporth. Stop for lunch before rounding the lively town of Newquay and heading just inland towards your final base near the tranquil village of Camelford.
Your Accommodation by Camelford
The most peaceful place to round off a Slowly holiday, your accommodation by Camelford is a repurposed farmhouse set in a lush rural location. After a long day’s journey, relax on the private patio with a cold one, the sound of birdsong floating above, the scent of blossoms everywhere. Rooms are as comfortable as they come, enhanced by the near-silent setting outside. Despite this away-from-it-all location, the stunning north Cornwall coast is just 10 minutes’ drive away.
There’s almost endless attraction and activity here, including the village of Boscastle, almost wiped from the map by devastating flash-flood in 2004, and where you may well find Cornwall’s best pasty. Fabulous Tintagel Castle is a little further down the coast, as is Doc Martin village Port Isaac and the culinary Mecca of Padstow.
Time to make your way home today; wherever you’re headed, we’ll provide a tailormade route to get you there with the minimum of fuss.
This self-drive holiday includes two nights in Wedmore in Somerset; three in Lynton in north Devon; two in Hope Cove in south Devon; three each in Mevagissey and Penzance, and two in Camelford in Cornwall.
£1795 per person for April & October, £1895 per person for May to September.
Prices are based on two sharing ensuite twin or double rooms for 15 nights on a bed and breakfast basis.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions and recommended routes from your specified starting point, suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests, and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
This self-drive holiday does not include car rental, though we would be happy to provide a quote. We also offer a range of fly-drive options; please do let us know how we can help.
All England itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
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This holiday can be arranged from April to October.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
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All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.