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what sequence for Devon and Cornwall

We are basing in Exeter for Devon, hoping to head a bit East to see Jurassic Coast (up to perhaps Lyme Regis). Then we will base ourselves again in Penzance for Cornwall. Question is: which of these two bases is best to get up to the North coast of Devon specifically, Clovelly, Lynmouth, Lyton? Since these areas are part of Devon, should we include them as part of car rental in Exeter, and head NW via an inland route? or wait until car rental in Penzance, and head NE up the Cornwall coast; i.e., keep going after Bode, Tintagel, etc. This decision will most likely mean a difference in the number of car rental days from each place. I am looking for the best (i.e., easiest, safest) driving route (still concerned re: driving in UK). Note: we will arrive in Exeter via train, then leave Penzance via train, and not driving a circuit around the entire SW coastline of UK. Which of these two itineraries would you adivise? Thanks!

Posted by
9110 posts

You've got a rather weak implied premise that might get into your pocketbook unless you rethink a little. Exeter to Penzance is only about a hundred miles. You'll probably come out cheaper with the per day car rental cost if you keep one car the whole time rather than having two for shorter periods each. Driving down that way is easy. You'll have to wind down some hills on skinny streets in a couple of places, but you'll be going so slow it won't matter. Make sure you pay for the parking spaces and don't let the time expire. Parking tickets are really steep and they don't get a chuckle out of a couple of minutes grace period.

Posted by
17 posts

Ed, thanks for your prompt reply! The reason for my routing us that way is, I confess, to reduce the number of driving days. We will first arrive in Bath and then after visiting Devon and Cornwall (as in first post), need to return to Bath. Given my reluctance in driving, I thought it might be best to use train to break up the miles somewhat. I first planned to rent car from Bath, then head South to coastline of Devon, continuing in a circuit around Cornwall coast and around North Devon coast, and back to Bath.

Posted by
9110 posts

You have to do what you're comfortable with (or think you will be), but to me the Bath business is even more reason to keep one car the whole way. I'm betting that once you poke around the Cotswolds (probably after a half day, even) you won't even notice the driving is different. The only thing I can think of is, leaving Bath and heading toward Land's End, don't follow any mapping/gps junk that would try to push you north to get on the freeway faster (i.e., push you trhough the Bristol area). Instead, head more straight west to Cheddar and pick up the M5 along there. I've driven that northern freeway a bunch of times and am forever finding myself about to cross the Severn before I can unscrew myself. It can't be that hard, but there's a sign somewhere that I miss. If you do it, press on and take a look at Chepstow - - it's a pretty good little castle.

Posted by
17 posts

I agree it would make most sense to have one car rental, and that was what I originally planned. Then I began to obsess about the driving and tried to think of ways to reduce it. Perhaps I do need to rethink it all. If I get brave and go back to a circuit around the coasts (leaving from Bath and returning car there) where and how would you base yourself to stay a few days here and there, to break up the trip, and avoid one night stays around the whole circuit?

Posted by
1986 posts

Having done it quite a few times. I do like the coastal cirduit, staying off the freeway/motorway as much as possible. We usually include a night at Dunster then along the North Coast and into the moors. Nothing exciting (or bad ) about Lynton or Lynmouth,. Clovelly is cuter with its long path down to the harbor. I beleive it has a few hotels/B&Bs with harbor views Be sure to include St Ives, Looe, Lands End, Mousehole and end up at Penzance. Or even back to Exeter. I dont think that the car rental will kill you. Stick with one car- especially if you can use it for the whole week. We also enjoy Doone Valley and Selworth in Somerset

Posted by
17 posts

thanks to Brian and Ed! When you guys travel in Devon and Cornwall, making a circuit around the coast like I described, do you stay in a different place each night? or base yourself in a couple different towns for a few nights and then branch out from there for day trips? If so, where? Wondering if I should make reservations ahead (already have them for Bath) or just find luck of the road as we go. Dates for our Devon and Cornwall travel are 10 days in October (as you can see we don't have to be in a rush around this area with 10 days to see it)

Posted by
9110 posts

I keep on the move since there's too much back-tracking otherwise. Plymouth/Saltash and Penzance are occanional exceptions since I really like them both. St Ives is my least favorite spot. I'd have to put a performance at the Minack among the ten best things I've seen in my life, but the season might be over by the time you get there. You won't need reservations anywhere once you clear Bath. (No implication that you will in Bath, I just don't know.)

Posted by
1986 posts

My comments are similar to Ed's- its easier just to keep moving and not back track. I do sometimes make exceptions and book for weekends (friday and saturday nights) or if there is a hotel/inn i particularly want to stay at. But that shouldnt be necessary in this area in October. Maybe if there was something cute in Clovelly that I felt i absolutely had to stay at

Posted by
1660 posts

We have visited the West Country a couple of times. For Cornwall, we stayed at Port Isaac 2-3 nights and out on the Lizard 2-3 nights. From those two locations we could day trip to everywhere we wanted. Exeter to Penzance is only 100+ miles--I don't think you need two different car rentals.