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Review: Slow Travel North Devon and Exmoor by Hilary Bradt

PUBLISHED: 13:23 01 May 2015 | UPDATED: 13:23 01 May 2015

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Annette Shaw reviews Slow Travel: North Devon and Exmoor by Hilary Bradt

Lee and Woody Bays, North DevonLee and Woody Bays, North Devon

Long before I moved to the West Country I was lucky enough to stay at Woody Bay in North Devon. As a girl from Manchester I had no idea we even had scenery this diverse and stunning in the UK. Who could stand in the Valley of the Rocks and not go WOW!?

Woody Bay is the kind of cove where Daphne du Maurier could have wrecked ships. By night, Wales twinkled in the distance. On the road to Parracombe a stag thundered across a field and one evening an owl, early for the nightshift, flew alongside the car. It was utterly magical and all of this is the basis of Hilary Bradt’s new guide. It gets into the nooks and crannies of North Devon and takes the reader to places that are so spectacular from Hartland Point to Lee Abbey.

The guide is ever -thoughtful and peppered with local knowledge like where to have a picnic or facts such as who frequented the The Royal Oak in Withypool. This 17th century inn is where, allegedly, R.D. Blackmore wrote parts of the classic novel, Lorna Doone. Equestrian artist Sir Alfred Munnings once had a studio in the garret and General Eisenhower planned the Normandy Invasion whilst staying here. You could win a pub quiz after reading this book.

The guide contains beautiful photographs including wildlife on Lundy, heather on the moors and the ancient Tarr Steps just outside Dulverton. And what’s so good about it is that it acknowledges everyone from walkers to the less agile. Exmoor has some excellent safari tours by Landrover. Foodies won’t be disappointed and in the event of inclement weather there are ideas for indoor jollies such as the Quince Honey Farm near South Molton - one of the most interesting afternoons I’ve spent.

In short, for residents and tourists, the guide is a brilliant addition to the bookcase.

Review by Annette Shaw. Read more of her Devon-related book reviews online at devonlife.co.uk/arts

For details of a competition to mark the release of Slow Travel: North Devon and Exmoor please visit www.devonlife.co.uk. You could win a self-catering stay at West Withy Farm and a dark skies stargazing experience.

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