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When looking for a budget friendly staycation in England there is nothing quite like camping in Devon. There are so many options for camping in Devon. Depending on things like location, proximity to the beach, campsite facilities and cost are all a factor.
When we went camping in Devon, we wanted to stay somewhere that was quiet e.g. not a holiday park and that was close to plenty of activities. Assuming you are driving to your campsite (because how else would you cart all your camping gear there?) Devon is really easy to get around.
We chose to stay near Torquay in South Devon so this post focuses mainly on that area of the south coast. If you are looking for something to do in North Devon then check out this post for the best walks in North Devon.
Where to stay
We found the perfect place in the Treacle Valley Campsite. Treacle Valley is the best option for budget camping in Devon. The campsite is very large, so it doesn’t feel overcrowded even in the summer. It has the most spectacular views over the Treacle Valley, which according to local legend is the site of the Treacle Mine. And because it is surrounded by countryside there are many short walks to do right from the campsite.
The campsite facilities are very well maintained with large clean toilet and shower blocks for male and female with hot water all day and night. There are water points all around the campsite, so you don’t have to trudge halfway across a field to fill up your kettle in the morning. There is also a communal dish washing area with hot water. And a small coin operated laundry area which is great for washing clothes after a rainy/muddy British summer hike.
Treacle valley allows barbeques and fire if they are off the ground. There is nothing better when camping in Devon than a barbeque in an evening with a nice cold cider watching the sunset over the hills. There is also a newly built playground on the campsite to keep the kids entertained. Dogs are allowed on leads too making it great for the whole family.
Treacle valley campsite also has a small shop onsite for essential things you may have forgotten. Or if you just want a fresh cup of coffee in the morning. There is free wifi but you have to get a pitch in range of the shop to pick up the signal in your tent. However, you can sit in the shop and use the wifi to plan your days activities. There are no electrical hook ups for campervans but there are plug sockets available for charging devices in the shop.
Treacle Valley is just a 10-minute drive to the town of Torquay for many popular tourist attractions and beaches. It is also a short drive to the village of Babbacombe, which has the largest model village in Britain and a Victorian cliffside railway down to the Babbacombe bay beach. Treacle Valley is also perfectly situated for a day trip to Dartmoor National Park which is just a 30-minute drive away. Perfect for sightseeing, hiking, exploring medieval ruins and horseback riding. It is also close to the Jurassic Coast and the South West Coastal footpath for great views over the sea and plenty of outdoor opportunities.
Treacle Valley campsite is very budget friendly, you can either reserve a pitch in advance or turn up on the day. The pitches range in cost depending on the size from £15-25 per tent per night. We have an Outwell Texas L which is a 2 room 6-man tent and we paid £18 per night for a medium sized pitch. This was discounted to £120 for a weeklong stay. It is always worth asking for a discounted price for a longer stay as most places we have been camping in Devon will offer discount.
What to do nearby
Devon has many activities on offer from beach days to visiting museums, hiking or even scuba diving. Here are some of our favourite things to do in Devon from Treacle Valley campsite.
Babbacombe cliff railway– Built in 1926 this Victorian cliffside railway is over 700 feet long and has been transporting visitors down to Oddicome beach for generations. Once on the beach learn the history of the railway in the visitor centre. Or enjoy the shallow waters and the far-reaching views and take a walk along the beach. It is worth the £2.90 fee for the return journey to enjoy this quirky vintage ride.
Babbacombe model village is a brilliant attraction for all the family. Set in 4 acres of beautifully manicured gardens the model village with the amusing moving models for children and the witty puns for building names that appeal to adults is a delight for any age group. It is easy to spend a few hours here with the on-site coffee shop and gift shop. The cost is £12.50 for adults but it is worth the price.
Bygones museum is a family run amusement in the middle of the Torquay high street. Located in an old cinema, what once started as a personal collection is now a vast museum. Over three floors showcasing objects from the past including war memorabilia, vintages toys, amusements, household objects and railway paraphernalia. A highlight is the complete reconstruction of a Victorian street and a wartime trench and air raid shelter. Entry fee is £9.95 and it is money well spent especially on a rainy day.
Torquay dinosaur world is fun for all the family and brings the world of dinosaurs to life. Discover fascinating fossils, huge skulls, life sized dinosaurs and scaled down exhibits and habitats. There is also a fun family explorer quiz, interactive games and puzzles, and many photo opportunities. At £6.95 per person it is a must see for dinosaur lovers of all ages.
Kent’s caverns is one of the most important stone age sites in Europe. Step back in time over 400 million years and see where humans have lived through the ages. Including some of the earliest tools ever found in Britain and bones from ancient animals of the ice age. This year-round attraction maintains temperature of 14c so makes for a great day out even in winter. Tickets are £12 per person and tours should be booked in advance in peak seasons.
Places to eat nearby
Aside from getting some tinned or instant food and cooking at your tent-side. Or having a campsite barbeque which are both perfectly good options when camping in Devon. You may want to fancy it up and go for something a little more extravagant than omelette and super noodles. Fortunately Devon has lots of fantastic restaurants to cater to all tastes.
From ice-cream parlours to gastro pubs and fresh seafood to traditional tearooms Devon has it all. In Brixham you will find delicious fresh local fish from the fish markets. Along with an array of award-winning seafood restaurants-try the No7 Fish Bistro. If fish and chips is more your thing, then we recommend heading to one of the Rockfish restaurants which are locally ran. Torbay is known as England’s seafood coast, so head to one or the other in your hunt for the finest seafood on the south coast.
If you are looking for a something more upbeat head to the Rock Garden for some live music to accompany your meal. Try the woodfired pizza-it’s delicious. If it’s a great view you are after, then head to one of the many restaurants around Torbay harbour and watch the boats bobbing around on the sea. If it’s countryside views you want head inland to one of the quaint villages nearby like Cockington. Where you can get a traditional cream tea in this postcard town.
Pubs in Devon you can’t miss
The Old Manor is located in Preston between Paignton and Torquay. This grade II listed building with its thatched roof and wooden beams is the perfect place for a lovely lunch. The menu is homemade using locally sourced organic products. With a cosy log fire in winter and a spacious beer garden to enjoy in summer it can be appreciated all year round.
The Hole in the Wall is the oldest pub in Torquay dating back to 1540. With home brewed local cider and ales, live music on certain nights of the week and cosy nooks for sitting in. It’s easy to see how this charming pub with its rustic feel low ceilings and cobbled floors has been popular for so long.
The Steam Packet Inn in Totnes is the perfect combination of rustic charm and modern interior. On the banks of the Dartmoor River the beautiful terrace is a wonderful place to sit in the summer with a cold glass of wine or a pint of real ale.
So, there you have it our ultimate guide to camping in Devon on a budget staycation. Of course, there is much more to Devon than just the Torquay and surrounding areas. We would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations for future camping trips.
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If you have stayed in Devon and have any great recommendations for places to stay, where to eat or things to do, let us know in the comments below!
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