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autumn in South Devon - South Milton during autumn

Autumn in South Devon is magical, and you will find the county a hive of activity. With mild temperatures, uncrowded beaches, and stunning colours that blanket Dartmoor and the rolling hills of the region, expect to spend your days basking in the remnants of the summer rays, treading the coast path and countryside and feasting on seasonal produce that is bursting with flavour. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during this period then you’re in for a treat.

Our autumn in South Devon guide is your handbook to discovering the very best Devon has to offer this season. We’ve handpicked a selection of the best autumn events, dog-friendly beaches, rainy day activities and exhilarating outdoor pursuits. We’ve worked hard to create a guide that leaves no stone unturned, and have even detailed where you will find the best cosy pubs with roaring open fires and beachside cafés.

autumn-in-South-Devon-view of coast

Here’s a brief overview of what to expect this autumn in South Devon. Use our quick links below to navigate the content, or read on for our comprehensive guide to autumn in Devon…

Dog-friendly beaches to enjoy this autumn in South Devon

Autumn in south devon dog friendly beaches

The sand and shingle shores of Devon provide the perfect playground for your four-legged friend, and as you would expect, it’s home to an impressive variety of dog-friendly beaches. The autumn season enjoys empty beaches, uncrowded coast paths, warm waters and best of all, a lift in the summer dog restriction! The South West Coast Path is peppered with an enviable selection of expansive sandy beaches and secluded coves, and as such, it can be tricky to know where to head to first. Below, you will find a selection of our favourite beaches to enjoy with your pooch this autumn, but for a more comprehensive list, read our popular article on dog-friendly beaches in South Devon.

East Portlemouth

Situated just across the water from Salcombe, you will find the white sandy expanse of East Portlemouth. Shallow and sheltered, this is the perfect spot if you or your four-legged companion are enticed by the crystal clear bathing waters.

North Sands

Approximately one mile from Salcombe, North Sands is a large sandy beach, with lots of space for dogs in need of a stretch. The beach is fully submerged at high tide, so be sure to check tidal times before visiting. Adjacent, you will find The Winking Prawn beach café, which welcomes well behaved pets, and is a great spot for a warming hot chocolate!

Soar Mill Cove

The secluded sandy beach at Soar Mill Cove looks like something out of an Enid Blyton book, tucked away in the valley just outside of Salcombe, only accessible by foot via the South West Coast Path. This picturesque cove is absolutely worth the walk in the autumn months, and best of all, you will find the hedgerows positively swollen with blackberries and sloes.

South Milton Sands

Dogs love this beach, as the wide-open stretch of sand is just the ticket for a run around. There are usually a vast array of canines visiting Thurlestone and South Milton Sands, so your pooch can enjoy meeting other waggily tailed companions.

Slapton Sands

Slapton Sands is a three-mile shingle stretch of beach, incorporating both Strete Gate Beach and Torcross Beach. It’s a completely level walk with plenty of parking and some great dog-friendly eateries. Slapton Sands is the perfect beach for a leisurely stroll.

The best coast, country and moorland walks this autumn in South Devon

Autumn in south devon walks

South Devon is a walker’s paradise and boasts a myriad of walking routes that cross the county spanning coast, countryside, and open moorland. Home to an abundance of wildlife, historical landmarks and secret nooks and crannies, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy numerous beautiful autumn walks, from wild coastal escapes to a wealth of rugged Dartmoor walks. One of our favourite Dartmoor walks leads through Wistman’s Wood, which is steeped in myth and legend, and is especially atmospheric on a grey, moody autumn day.

If the skies are blue, head to the coast which is spectacular in the autumn light. The team at Coast & Country Cottages are avid walkers, and we’ve worked hard to compile a comprehensive walking guide that details routes suitable for wellies, seasoned hikers and toddlers alike.  Download our free walking guide today.

Cosy South Devon pubs with open fires

Autumn in south devon pub

In our opinion, nothing beats a blustery autumn walk followed by a feast of sumptuous seasonal food. South Devon is renowned for its wealth of gastronomical delights, and deciding which pubs stand out from the crowd is not an easy task, so we’ll let you in on a few secrets. We have detailed our favourite cosy pubs to visit this autumn in South Devon, all of which include roaring open fires and an enviable selection of craft ales on tap…

The Sloop

Just a short walk from the world class surfing hotspot, Bantham Beach, this 14th century pub oozes history and tradition. Whether you want to snuggle up on the fireside sofas, or enjoy a more formal meal in the restaurant, The Sloop always provides a warm welcome, sandy toes and soggy socks included! A popular walking route that directly passes the pub is the Thurlestone to Bantham circular, which is detailed here.

The Journey’s End

A 13th century freehouse tucked away in the village of Ringmore, The Journey’s End is nestled deep within the countryside. With stunning circular walks from the pub, both coastal and inland, and four open fires to enjoy throughout the season, it’s a perfect South Devon pub to visit this autumn. The National Trust has detailed various walking routes that take in both Ringmore and the neighbouring village of Kingston. View these here.

The Durant Arms

With a dedicated local following for their Sunday roasts, The Durant Arms were finalists in The Devon Life magazine Food and Drinks Award for the best Sunday roast in Devon 2018. Needless to say, you won’t be disappointed with your visit to The Durant Arms. Why not walk to Ashprington from Totnes along the River Dart, to really work up an appetite. Full details of this walk can be found here.

The Warren House Inn

When you visit a public house where the fire has been burning since 1845, you know you’re in for an experience that is steeped in history and tales of old. The Warren House Inn on Dartmoor, nestled between Princetown and Moretonhampstead stands isolated and remote, at 434m above sea level. Originally built to serve a busy tin mining community, it is now frequented by visitors enjoying its plentiful character and extensive views across Dartmoor.

The Cricket Inn

Often described as one of South Devon’s hidden gems, The Cricket Inn is just metres from Beesands Beach. Situated directly on the stunning South West Coast Path, The Cricket offers the ideal base to explore the beautiful South Devon coastline and is the perfect resting place to enjoy good food and a refreshing drink in between hiking. The Beesands to Hallsands circular walk is a perfect route for a pre pub feast.

For more inspiration, read our comprehensive guide to finding the best pub food in South Devon.

Cosy beachside cafés

Autumn in south devon cafe

If you would rather snuggle down in a cosy beach café and watch the elements, then you are spoilt for choice in Devon. Sit back and enjoy a decadent hot chocolate with lashings of cream and marshmallows, and for the grown ups, why not treat yourselves to an additional shot of whiskey or rum! Here are just a few of our favourite beachside cafés to visit this autumn:

Outdoor activities to enjoy this autumn in South Devon

Autumn in south devon kayaking

Sometimes, even with our relatively mild climate, things can get a little wet, wild and windy during the autumn period. Don’t let this stop you from adventuring, in fact, we urge you to embrace the elements regardless, get out there and take part in the many outdoor activities to enjoy this autumn in South Devon. Whilst some people relish this time of year for huddling by an open fire, visiting National Trust properties and exploring charming country pubs, avid outdoor lovers look forward to the benefits this time of year brings with the quiet beaches, wilder waters and countryside walks without the crowds. With activities on offer from surfing to paddleboarding, and even a forest school for children, we encourage you to embrace the weather, get out there and get stuck in…


Devon is great for kayaking, especially for families with younger children eager to explore the coastline by water. Not only do the grown ups get a good physical workout, but little ones love sitting back with eagle eyes, looking for fish, seals and the ever elusive mermaid. There are many places you can hire kayaks from, or even participate in a kayak tour with, including Sea Kayak Salcombe (South Sands), Surfing Sam (South Milton Sands), Sea Kayak Devon (Dartmouth) and Discovery Surf School (Bigbury-on-Sea).

Stand up paddleboarding

Devon enjoys a thriving ‘SUP’ scene, and is home to many beautiful beaches, coves and estuaries, providing the perfect playground for eager paddle boarders. If the weather conditions are favorable (not too windy!), most people pick up paddle boarding fairly quickly. There are various places you can hire boards from, including Waterborn (Kingsbridge), Sea Kayak Salcombe (South Sands), Surfing Sam (South Milton Sands), and Discovery Surf School (Bigbury-on-sea).


If you really want to get in amongst the waves, then book a surf lesson with Discovery Surf. Based in the stunning location of Bigbury-on-Sea and Challaborough Bay, they offer tuition for all ages and abilities. Surfing in the colder season is not for the faint-hearted, so be sure to wear a good wetsuit, boots and gloves. However, with a little perseverance, you could be riding the waves in no time at all.

Develop outdoor skills

If you’re keen to learn or further develop outdoor skills, then there is plenty on offer. Dartington based Dynamic Adventures offer guided outdoor activities for children and adults, including archery, zipline, high ropes, rock climbing, abseiling, orienteering and mountain biking. In addition, Salcombe Shooting School offers tuition and practice sessions, suitable for all levels.

Being outside is the perfect environment for children and nothing beats the much loved sandy toes, salty hair and muddy knees at the end of an adventure fuelled day. Providing curriculum-linked outdoor learning and environmental education, Forest & Beach provide the ultimate opportunity for a unique adventure whilst in Devon. Offering a popular holiday club, children have the freedom to explore the natural environment in a fun, creative and practical way. To join in the fun, enrol on one of their beach or coastal adventure days.

Family attractions to enjoy this autumn in South Devon

South Devon has a varied range of attractions to enjoy, ranging from wildlife centres and petting farms to zoos and the UK’s largest aquarium. Be sure to visit Pennywell Farm, where you can feed the sheep and cuddle the miniature pigs. Alternatively, National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, Paignton Zoo and Kents Cavern are also fabulous options for younger children. Whilst South Devon boasts one of the warmest climates on mainland Britain and is often bathed in sunshine, occasionally British weather can be a little unpredictable. If you do encounter the odd rainy day during your holiday, don’t worry! There’s a fantastic choice of fun activities to enjoy in South Devon this autumn, come rain or shine…

Spas to visit this autumn in South Devon

If a day of indulgent pampering sounds like your idea of relaxation, then book yourself into one of South Devon’s luxurious spas. For the ultimate self care session book into The Salcombe Harbour Hotel ‘HarSPA’, The Voyage Spa at Thurlestone Hotel, The Dartmouth Spa or perhaps Boringdon Hall Hotel and Spa all of which offer a fantastic choice of treatments and facilities, guaranteeing you some much needed rest and relaxation.

Cinemas in South Devon

The cinema is always a popular autumn activity, so why not catch a matinee showing of a children’s film, or an evening show for the adults. Regardless of what you watch and when, be sure to take a bag of local goodies to enjoy, such as sumptuous Roly’s fudge, or a traditional South Devon pasty. For further information on cinema listings and times, check out Kings Cinema in Kingsbridge, The Flavel Cinema in Dartmouth or The Barn Cinema at Dartington, all of which offer very comfortable viewing. Furthermore, both Plymouth and Paignton are home to large Vue cinemas, and as you would expect, the film listing is extensive and spans many genres.

Devon has many more activities and attractions for all the family to enjoy, so for further suggestions, be sure to read our family days out blog pages, and in particular, our post on Things to do in South Devon in the rain.

Autumn breaks in South Devon

At Coast & Country Cottages, we love autumn, and you will find our self-catering properties perfectly suited to the season. From king-sized beds boasting sea views, to log burning fires and bubbling hot tubs, you won’t be disappointed. Whether you’re a couple in search of a romantic cosy cottage, or a family looking for a large family property where afternoons are spent playing board games and building dens in the snug, you’ll find the perfect accommodation to enjoy autumn in South Devon. View our enviable selection of winter retreats and hot tub cottages to inspire your autumn break in South Devon.

Book your South Devon autumn break here

For more Autumn inspiration, read our blogs: