On the River Exe, Exeter is about 60km
north-east of Plymouth, with good public-transport connections.
From Exeter, the M5 links the south-west with the West
Devon's county town, home to the Met Office and a respected
university, Exeter has a long history and plenty of heritage to
discover, despite the heavy wartime bombing and 1950s rebuilding of
much of the city centre. It is an official host city for the 2015
Rugby World Cup.
What to see
Stand in the nave of the Cathedral Church of St Peter, and
discover why Alec Clifton-Taylor described it as "one of the
supreme architectural pleasures of England". Light floods through
windows on to honey-coloured stone, and, above grey-blue Purbeck
marble pillars, ribs arch and branch like palm trees.
The minstrels' gallery, built in 1350, has 12 stone angels
playing musical instruments, including bagpipes and a recorder.
Seek out the 15th-century astrological clock, believed to have
inspired the nursery rhyme "Hickory dickory dock".
Most cathedrals have moved the organ to one side, but not
Exeter. Supported by the great screen at the top of the nave, it
dominates the choir, where the misericords under the canons'
stalls, from the 1250s, are thought to be the oldest complete set
in England. The east window has glass painted in 1303; a few years
later, carpenters were carving superb canopies - look above the
The celebrated twin towers were built under the auspices of
William the Conqueror's nephew, William Warelwast, Bishop of Exeter
in 1107. Tower- and roof-tours present panoramic city and country
views. The elaborate stonework of the west front will stop you in
Stroll the grassy green Cathedral Close, bordered by historic
buildings, and then head to Queen Street to visit the Royal Albert
Memorial Museum and Art Gallery for diverse collections in a
Victorian Gothic-revival building. The town's most unusual
attraction - but not for the claustrophobic - must be the
underground passages built during the 14th century to carry water
to the cathedral and to the town.
The River Exe meanders through the city, and the revitalised
historic quayside, where the Custom House is a reminder of maritime
importance, is a popular leisure attraction.
Where to eat and drink
At weekends, the street-food market at the Guildhall Shopping
Centre showcases the best Devon produce, and imaginative dishes
from around the world. On the cathedral yard, there is the historic
Royal Clarence Hotel. In St Martin's Lane, the Ship Inn claims to
have been Sir Francis Drake's favourite drinking spot.
Dartmoor National Park offers adventures in a wild landscape;
the oldest section of the 95-mile long World Heritage Jurassic
Coast is in nearby Exmouth.