Make 2024 the year you see South West England!
Beaches, moorland, unique cultures and compelling history combine to make South West England one of THE top UK tourist destinations.
But, with SO much to choose from, it can be difficult to suss out which destinations to add to your “to-visit” list each year.
I’ve made it easy for you with this article – here are 10 destinations across the West Country that have a special reason for visiting this year.
Any blog posts I’ve written about them are linked, so do check those out for more information.
West Penwith, Cornwall: for stargazing
West Penwith, a section of Cornwall’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has been honoured with the International Dark Sky Park Designation, making it the second location in Cornwall and seventh in the UK to receive this recognition.
This area, stretching from St Ives to Mousehole and encompassing locales like Sennen and Land’s End, offers some of the world’s most breathtaking night skies, thanks to its minimal light pollution.
Mendip Hills “Super” National Nature Reserve: for hiking and nature
Discover the Mendip Hills in Somerset in 2024, now acclaimed as a “super” National Nature Reserve, which should enhance biodiversity across its landscape.
This area, linking 31 nature reserves from Wells to Weston-super-Mare, is pivotal for preserving unique wildlife, including rare butterflies, the Cheddar pink flower, and small mammals.
Here, you can enjoy walking the Mendip Way, exploring ancient woodlands, and witnessing the rich geology and diverse flora and fauna that make the Mendips a natural treasure!
Exmouth – for my walking tours!
Visit Exmouth in 2024 to take one of my walking tours, which only launched last summer!
Once a renowned Victorian seaside resort, Exmouth is reemerging with new restaurants, a beach bar, and watersports centres – and of course, my historical walking tours that take you all over the town centre.
Explore the regal Regency-era architecture, enjoy the scenic two-mile beach, and immerse in the town’s rich history of notable residents like Ada Lovelace and Lady Byron.
Discover the oldest part of England’s Jurassic Coast, and engage in the town’s evolving scene with trendy eateries and attractions that celebrate its unique heritage and natural beauty.
Launceston: For Cornish Culture
Discover the hidden gem of Launceston in Cornwall, a town often overlooked yet brimming with unique charm and history.
Launceston, with its medieval castle, quaint streets, and independent shops, is a quieter but equally enchanting experience compared to more bustling Cornish destinations.
The history of Launceston Castle is enthralling, and while it’s on the border of Devon and Cornwall, the Cornish spirit here is palpable.
Porlock: For an Exmoor Escape
In 2024, set your sights on Porlock, a picturesque village in Exmoor National Park.
It’s a hiker’s paradise with trails leading to Porlock Weir – which is on the South West Coast Path – and the dramatic Porlock Hill.
The village’s rich history, friendly community, and traditions like the Porlock Apple Press, add to its allure.
The Rame Peninsula: For a Quieter Slice of the Cornish Coast
The Rame Peninsula in Cornwall, often referred to as ‘Cornwall’s Forgotten Corner’, is a must-visit in 2024 for its untouched beauty and tranquil coastal villages.
It’s a haven for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of other Cornish seaside towns, offering stunning views, secluded beaches, and historic sites like Mount Edgcumbe and Rame Head Chapel.
Or, just kick back in Kingsand or Cawsand with a pint of Rattlers – when in Cornwall, eh!
Branscombe, East Devon – for Devon fishing village life
One of my favourite villages in Devon, Branscombe is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
For me, Branscombe stands out for its thatched cottages, historic forge, and tranquil beach where you might just find a fossil!
The area is ideal for coastal walks, exploring local craft workshops, and enjoying fresh seafood.
Avebury, Wiltshire: For a Stonehenge Alternative
Stonehenge was so 2023!
Unlike the more famous Stonehenge, Avebury allows visitors to walk among its stones AND it’s the largest stone circle in Europe!
The surrounding landscape, rich in archaeological sites like Silbury Hill and the West Kennet Long Barrow, makes Avebury a fascinating destination for history buffs and those seeking a deeper understanding of Britain’s ancient past, away from the crowds.
Bradford-upon-Avon – for a quieter Cotswolds escape
Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire is a must-visit for its natural beauty and historical richness.
This charming Cotswold town is known for its stunning architecture, ranging from Saxon-era churches to Tudor buildings, all set along the picturesque banks of the River Avon.
It’s a hub for exploring the enchanting countryside, including canal walks and visits to nearby attractions like the historic Tithe Barn.
Isle of Portland – to see the Jurassic Coast in its rawest form
The Isle of Portland in Dorset, a rugged limestone island connected to the mainland by Chesil Beach, is a wonderful destination for 2024, with unique geological formations, rich maritime history, and famous Portland stone quarries.
The island is known for its lighthouses, birdwatching opportunities, and dramatic coastal scenery, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
Portland’s role in the 2012 Olympics and its array of water sports, from sailing to windsurfing, make it an exciting visit for adventure seekers, too!