6 guided tours in Devon - from Exeter to Dartmoor
PUBLISHED: 13:58 29 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:58 29 May 2020
Photo: Alex Graeme
Get the most out of your visit to Devon by joining one of these local tour guides who can show you the county’s hidden gems
There comes a point in Tich Scott’s guided tour of Dartmoor when the silver cups come out and are carefully placed on his Land Rover’s bonnet. It can mean only one thing – it’s time for a tipple of some proper Devon farm cider.
“I always take a little bottle out,” says Tich, stressing that the refreshment break is for his guests only, not the designated driver, of course. “It’s just a little thing I like to do for people.”
Retired farmer Tich is exactly the sort of person you’d want to show you around Dartmoor. His family has been working the land here for more than 50 years and Tich knows pretty much every contour. He’s also on first name terms with most of the moor’s residents.
“The Americans are always amazed,” he says, in his wonderfully soft Devon accent (Tich is also an award-winning dialect speaker). “I’ll be taking them on tour and we go down these by-roads – we don’t do the main roads – and everyone who passes will be someone I know. We could be 25 mile (sic) out from where we started and there’ll still be people we pass that wave!”
Tich was born in Drewsteignton in 1957 and moved to the farm where he still lives in Fairhaven, Whiddon Down in 1958.
He worked there from the age of 16 until he set up his own agricultural fencing business in 1991.
“I enjoyed it but in the end the work was getting to my bones – not getting the better of me, though!” says Tich, describing the time he knew he had to start winding down that chapter in his life.
“I’d been dreaming of doing these tours for 20 or 30 years but you gotta wait for the situation to get just right first.”
Tich says the first guests he took out in his silver six-seater Land Rover Defender were people he knew.
“That surprised me,” he says. “I had people who live in the local villages saying, ‘we’ll come out with you, Tich,’whether it was mother’s birthday or some sort of celebration like that.
“Well, we’d get about 25 minutes away and they’d say: ‘Tich, I never been here before’ and you realise that a lot of local people don’t go more than 10 miles away from their home. That’s how it is in a lot of places.”
Since he started his business in 2013, Tich has treated people from all over the world to one of his Proper Dartmoor Tours. And he never tires of seeing people’s reactions to the stunning part of the world he calls home.
“I’m very proud of where I live and where I come from,” he says. “Whenever I’m doing one of these tours, I feel very much at peace with myself.”
Even in these strange and troubled times?
“Yes,” says Tich, still very much a farmer’s son. “You just think of the things we’ve had thrown at us over the years: BSE. foot and mouth disease, TB. You’ve just got to keep going, haven’t you? That’s what we do around here.”
Interested in Dartmoor? How many of these Dartmoor spots have you been to?
Multi-award winning tour guide Alex Graeme agrees that Devon’s ambassadors have an important role to play, now more than ever.
“We’ve been making ourselves ready for whatever changes we need to make,” he says. “There are lots of plans in place.”
Alex started Unique Devon Tours seven years ago, fulfilling a childhood dream.
“I came up with the idea when I was ten years old and then did lots of other things,” says Alex, based near Newton Abbot. “But then I got to 40 and thought, right, it’s time to go back to that dream and give it a go.”
Unique Devon Tours offers a wide range of single and multi-day experiences across the whole region, exploring everything from the county’s food and drink to its ghosts, myths and legends, as well as more general trips.
“Devon just has to be one of the greatest all-rounders in England,” says Alex. “It’s got a bit of everything; charming villages and cottages, wild outdoors, stunning coasts, incredible food and drink and there’s just so much history. It really is a land of opportunity to be a tour guide here.”
Many of Alex’s guests are international visitors, keen to sample all of Devon’s delights. For Alex, that usually includes a drive down a few of our county’s often unfathomably narrow lanes.
“People can’t believe roads like that exist,” he says. “I tell them that they’re now about to experience a Devon lane. Some ask if they’re one way but then they see a tractor coming the other way. I’ve seen grown men cry!”
Like Tich, Alex is passionate about his role as one of Devon’s tour guides and is always finding new ways to provide the best experience possible.
“You’re trying to create memories for life for people,” he says. “That’s why I absolutely love this job.”
OTHER TOURS IN DEVON (please check websites before booking):
South Devon born James Coulton runs Select South West Tours which includes half, single and multi-day trips across the region.
Plymouth Pilgrim Tours run family and guided walks through the historic Barbican, Hoe and Devonport.
Explore Devon off-road with Lanes, Tracks and Trails. Expert guides offer you the chance to check out the county’s ‘green lanes’ in a 4X4.
Exeter Red Coat Guided Tours are free guided walks through the city.
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