A guide to exploring south Devon in a motorhome including Exmouth, Stoke Gabriel, Totnes and Start Bay.
I have family history in Devon so I was looking forward to exploring my roots and visiting a few interesting places in south Devon. On this trip we planned to visit Exmouth, Stoke Gabriel, Totnes and Start Bay. Campsites were booked in advance. Find out where we stayed and the attractions we visited in this motorhome blog article.
Exmouth in a motorhome
Before visiting Exmouth with our motorhome I had done some research about where we could stay overnight and it appeared that we could park our motorhome on the seafront and stay overnight. I was a little nervous, however, because there seemed to be an ongoing debate about the merits or otherwise of allowing motorhomes to park overnight. Nevertheless, we arrived in Exmouth and reversed into a tight parking spot right on the seafront and what a great view it was! I paid the overnight fee and settled in for the night whilst watching the ever changing view in front of us. The early part of the night was noisy as there were “boy racers” about, but things quietened down later in the evening.
The next morning a parking attendent knocked on our door and informed us that we weren’t allowed to park here because we were too long. Apparently the maximum length for motorhomes is 6 metres and because our motorhome is 7 metres we had to move. No problem I said and so we moved to the nearby car park where motorhomes are allowed.
There are several long stay car parks: Maer Road Car Park, Imperial Road Recreation Ground Car Park and Queens Drive Echelon Car Park. However, be aware that these car parks do not have any facilities for waste disposal or water supply.
Exmouth is a great destination for motorhome and camper van travellers who want to enjoy the beauty and diversity of the Devon coast. You can find plenty of things to do and see in Exmouth, such as:
- Visit the World Heritage Site of the Jurassic Coast, where you can see fossils and rock formations dating back millions of years.
- Take a boat trip along the Exe Estuary, where you can spot birds, seals and dolphins.
- Relax on the golden sands of Exmouth Beach, which stretches for two miles along the seafront.
- Try some water sports like surfing, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding at one of the many centres in town.
- Learn about the history and culture of Exmouth at the Exmouth Museum or the A La Ronde National Trust property.
- Enjoy some local food and drink at one of the many pubs, cafes and restaurants in town.
Visiting Stoke Gabriel with a motorhome
After Exmouth we made our way to Stoke Gabriel via an overnight stop at the Exeter racecourse camp site. Luckily for us it was the night the fish and chip shop van was there so it saved us from having to cook!
If you are looking for a charming and picturesque village to visit in South Devon, you might want to consider Stoke Gabriel. This ancient and unspoilt village is situated on a creek of the River Dart, and has a lot to offer for visitors of all ages and interests.
One of the main attractions of Stoke Gabriel is its mill pond, which is fed by a leat from the river. The pond is a popular spot for crabbing, which is a fun and relaxing activity for children and adults alike. All you need is a bucket, a line, a net and some bait, and you can enjoy catching and releasing the crabs that live in the pond. You can also admire the wildlife that inhabits the pond, such as ducks, swans, herons and kingfishers. There is a popular café at the mill pond where we enjoyed a nice lunch and a pint of Hunts cider.
Another highlight of Stoke Gabriel is its historic church, which dates back to the 13th century. The church is dedicated to St Gabriel, who according to legend appeared to local fishermen and blessed their nets. The churchyard contains an impressive yew tree that is estimated to be over 800 years old, and has a hollow trunk that can fit several people inside. The church also hosts regular events and concerts throughout the year.
Stoke Gabriel is surrounded by beautiful countryside that invites exploration by foot, bike or boat. There are many scenic walks and trails that lead from the village to nearby attractions, such as Totnes Castle, Berry Pomeroy Castle and Sharpham Vineyard. You can also hire a kayak or a paddle board from the quay and paddle along the creek to enjoy the views of the river and its banks.
Stoke Gabriel has a friendly and welcoming community that organises various events and festivals throughout the year. Some of these include the annual regatta in August, which features boat races, games, stalls and fireworks; the apple festival in October, which celebrates the local orchards and cider making; and the lantern parade in December, which lights up the village with colourful lanterns. There are also several pubs, cafes and restaurants in the village where you can sample some delicious local food and drink, including a local convenience store that sells excellent home made pasties!
If you love cider you can visit Hunts Cider, which is a short distance away from Ramslade. They have a 200 year old tradition of making Devon cider and we can vouch for its quality!
Where we stayed in Stoke Gabriel
We stayed at Ramslade Club Campsite which is a pleasant 30 minute walk to the village of Stoke Gabriel. There are other campsites in the area that we noticed.
Visiting fascinating Totnes
After Stoke Gabriel we headed down the narrow Devon lanes towards Totnes where we had booked to stay on the small campsite at Steamer Quay, on the river, and only a short walk from the town.
Totnes is a historic market town located in Devon, England. It is a popular destination for motorhome enthusiasts who want to explore the town and its surroundings. There are several campsites in and around Totnes that cater for motorhomes, such as the Steamer Quay Club Campsite. The beautifully kept caravan park is just a short walk away from the bustling town of Totnes, for a wide choice of local pubs and restaurants.
The designated car park in Totnes for motorhomes, camper vans and boat trailers is Longmarsh, at the end of Steamer Quay Road. Owners need to pay £15 per night for a maximum of 2 nights, all year round from 9pm – 6am. It is not legal to sleep in a mobile home overnight in any South Hams car park.
There are several attractions to visit in Totnes. Some of the top attractions to visit in Totnes are Berry Pomeroy Castle, The Timehouse, Totnes Rare Breeds Farm, Sharpham Wine and Cheese, and Dartington Hall Estate and Gardens.
Totnes Castle is a traditional Norman motte and bailey castle and is definitely worth a visit.
If you’re looking for a birds-eye view of the town, you can visit the ramparts of Totnes’ classic Norman motte and bailey castle. The castle is managed by English Heritage.
The trip that I can highly recommend is the Totnes to Dartmouth river cruise. See more about this excellent trip here. It’s a relaxing 90 minute cruise each way along the River Dart. You also might want to consider the Round Robin trip. Costing £36 per adult (2023 price). This Includes steam train, river boat and bus visiting the quaint towns of Paignton, Dartmouth and Totnes. We loved Dartmouth, the historic naval port, on the River Dart. It was our first visit to this fascinating and scenic destination and I can recommend a visit here.
Beautiful Start Bay and Slapton Sands
A short walk from the campsite at Start Bay is the amazing beach of Slapton Sands.
Slapton Sands is a village in the South Hams district of Devon, England. It is located near the A379 road between Kingsbridge and Dartmouth, and lies within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The beach at Slapton Sands is an expansive three-mile stretch of shingle beach. It is rich in both history and wildlife, and as such, is a popular spot amongst both locals and visitors. The beach is dog-friendly and is perfect for beach lovers.
Slapton Sands is also known for its role in the preparations for the D-Day landings. The beach was used by the allied forces to practice for the landings in Normandy, France. The beach was evacuated and the area was used for live ammunition practice, which resulted in the deaths of 749 American servicemen. There is a memorial to that fateful day and also you can see a Sherman tank that was recovered from the sea bed just off shore.
There is a farm shop and brewery a stones throw from the Start Bay campsite. Here you will find local produce as well as a café restaurant and an on-site brewery where you can buy a great selection of beers.
We loved our motorhome tour of south Devon. We managed to navigate the infamous Devon roads and I would highly recommend the places we visited. We will be back.