2023 Summer Travel Series – Your Journey to....the South West

2023 Summer Travel Series – Your Journey to....the South West

As we prepare for a summer of fun and some time away with family and friends, our Summer Travel Series will be looking at top tips for cost-effective travel and how to keep those smaller passengers entertained, as well as our recommended routes and stop-offs along the way. 

One of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK is always Devon and Cornwall, nestled into the South West of England, featuring both wonderful sandy beaches and ample green space. 

Most Scenic routes and top destinations

If you’re travelling from the South or South East across to the West, one of the most scenic routes you can take is the A303 through Wiltshire, past the famous Stonehenge on your right as go. If you have time, you could plan a stop over here for a leg stretch and to enjoy the mysterious venue on the iconic Amesbury Hills. Booking is recommended and can be done in advance via the English Heritage website.

As well as Stonehenge itself, you’ll see all the ‘Barrows’ which are the ancient burial grounds from 5,000 years ago as you glance across the plains. 

If you’re travelling on the A303, it’s best to select a time of day other than during rush hour! Although it's beautiful and steeped in history, the lanes merge into one and it can get pretty congested during those busy times of day. 

Follow the A303 and join the A30 at Exeter to sweep past Dartmoor National Park in South Devon. Or if you’re heading for the Northern parts of the counties, head to join the A39 and pass through Exmoor National Park and onto those famous narrow Cornish lanes, the deeper you head West! 

As well as pasties, ice creams and many different attractions, Devon and Cornwall are famous for their beautiful beaches. If you’re looking for soft sand and lots of space for all the family – including the 4-legged kind – Daymar Bay in North Cornwall is highly recommended. Tucked away and neighbouring popular surfing beach Polzeith, Daymar Bay is stark in contrast with serenely calm waters and is bordered by sand dunes and sand hills. Head here for a lovely day of relaxation on the beach, or if you’re feeling energetic, you could head for a walk up the steep Braey Hill and explore St Enodoc Church within the dunes. 

Best service station on route 

If you opted for the A303, there are, of course, fewer choices when it comes to service stations than on a motorway. However, there are still some good ones along the way. Solstice services at Amesbury are rated 3 stars according to Motorway Services Online and offer a range of food outlets including a KFC, McDonald’s and a Taco Bell Drive-Thru, a Harvester Bar and Grill and a Toby Carvery. This is as well as those all-important facilities such as Co-op petrol, EV charging points, cash machine and car washes. 

If you’ve driven down the M5 from the north of England, Which? has rated Gloucester Services as their best service station in the UK. It has an incredible customer score of 86%. Apparently, the designer feel, roof carpeted with grass, floor-to-ceiling windows and pond out the front all make for a rather premium visit! There’s a well-stocked farm shop with produce such as baked goods and regional cheeses on offer. Home-cooked meals such as fish and chips and steak and ale pies are also on the menu. Visit the website to find out more.

Best alternative to a service station 

We’ve already mentioned Stonehenge as a recommended stop-over point, but we do also have some other suggestions.  

With more than 500 sites including historic houses, castles, archaeological and industrial monuments, gardens, parks, and nature reserves across the UK, it’s impossible to have a favourite National Trust place to visit. However, Stourhead is located just off the A303 before Warminster and provides the perfect place for a comfort break, a bite to eat and a leg stretch for all the family, including the 4-legged kind! 

It does have rough terrain, however, so check the website if you need help with accessibility. 

For a slightly longer stop, Wildwood Devon is situated just off the A30 at Exeter and is open from 10am-6pm most days.  

Set in 45 acres of parkland and woodland, there is plenty of space to let off some steam after being sat in the car and plenty to see and do as well. Featuring endangered native species such as the iconic red squirrel, Wildwood is perfect for nature lovers. As well as the wildlife, there is a soft play, an authentic Saxon Village and a beech hedge maze to keep everyone entertained. Check out the website for booking and for more information.

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