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South West England

Travel Guide Europe United Kingdom England South West England

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Introduction

South West England is the largest region (size-wise) of England. The Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks can be found here, as well as the cities of Bristol, Salisbury, Exeter and Plymouth. The region is known for its rich folklore, including the legend of King Arthur and Glastonbury Tor, as well as its traditions and customs. Cornwall has its own language, Cornish, and some regard it as a Celtic nation. The South West of England is known for Cheddar cheese, which originated in the Somerset village of Cheddar, Devon cream teas, crabs, Cornish pasties, and cider. It is also home to the Eden Project, Aardman Animations, the Glastonbury Festival, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, trip hop music and Cornwall's surfing beaches.

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Geography

Most of the region is located on the South West Peninsula, between the English Channel and Bristol Channel. It has the longest coastline of all the English regions, totalling over 1,130 kilometres. Much of the coast is now protected from further substantial development because of its environmental importance, which contributes to the region’s attractiveness to tourists and residents.

Geologically the region is divided into the largely igneous and metamorphic west and sedimentary east, the dividing line slightly to the west of the River Exe. Cornwall and West Devon's landscape is of rocky coastline and high moorland, notably at Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor. These are due to the granite and slate that underlie the area. The highest point of the region is High Willhays, at 621 metres, on Dartmoor. In North Devon the slates of the west and limestones of the east meet at Exmoor National Park. The variety of rocks of similar ages seen here have led to the county's name being lent to that of the Devonian period.

The east of the region is characterised by wide, flat clay vales and chalk and limestone downland. The vales, with good irrigation, are home to the region's dairy agriculture.

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Counties

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Sights and Activities

Jurassic Coast

The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site on the English Channel coast of southern England. It stretches from Orcombe Point near Exmouth in East Devon to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in East Dorset, a distance of 155 kilometres. Chartered in 2001, the Jurassic coast was the second wholly natural World Heritage Site to be designated in the United Kingdom. Its entire length can be walked on the South West Coast Path. The site was featured on the television programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the South West (of the UK), and in a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Jurassic Coast was named as the fifth-greatest natural wonder in Britain. Its official UNESCO name is Dorset and East Devon Coast.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Lulworth Cove
  • The Isle of Portland
  • Durdle Door
  • Thomas Hardy's Cottage
  • Lawrence of Arabia's House

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Weather

The climate of South West England is classed as oceanic (Cfb) according to the Köppen climate classification. The oceanic climate typically experiences cool winters with warmer summers and precipitation all year round, with more experienced in winter. Annual rainfall is about 1,000 millimetres and up to 2,000 millimetres on higher ground. Summer maxima averages range from 18 °C to 22 °C and winter minimum averages range from 1 °C to 4 °C across the south-west. It is the second windiest area of the United Kingdom, the majority of winds coming from the south-west and north-east. Government organisations predict the region to rise in temperature and become the hottest region in the United Kingdom.

Inland areas of low altitude experience the least amount of precipitation. They experience the highest summer maxima temperatures, but winter minima are colder than the coast. Snowfalls are more frequent in comparison to the coast, but less so in comparison to higher ground. It experiences the lowest wind speeds and sunshine total in between that of the coast and the moors. The climate of inland areas is more noticeable the further north-east into the region.

In comparison to inland areas, the coast experiences high minimum temperatures, especially in winter, and it experiences slightly lower maximum temperatures during the summer. Rainfall is the lowest at the coast and snowfall is rarer than the rest of the region. Coastal areas are the windiest parts of the peninsula and they receive the most sunshine. The general coastal climate is more typical the further south-west into the region.

Areas of moorland inland such as: Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor experience lower temperatures and more precipitation than the rest of the south west (approximately twice as much rainfall as lowland areas), because of their high altitude. Both of these factors also cause it to experience the highest levels of snowfall and the lowest levels of sunshine. Exposed areas of the moors are windier than lowlands and can be almost as windy as the coast.

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Getting There

By Plane

Bristol Airport (BRS) is one of the main gateways. Easyjet, Ryanair, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways have many seasonal flights to destinations in mainly southern Europe.

To/from the airport
The airport is located along the A38, 8 miles (13 kilometres) south of Bristol city centre. The airport is signposted from the M5. Take junction 22 when approaching from the south and junction 18 when approaching from the north.
The Bristol International Flyer coach services A1 & A2 operate to and from Bristol stopping en route in Bedminster, Bristol Temple Meads railway station, and Bristol Bus station. Some services continue to Clifton. The service takes 30 minutes from the city centre. A bus service to and from Weston-super-Mare operates every two hours, service number 121. This service is operated by Wessex Connect and Bakers Coaches on behalf of North Somerset Council.

Exeter International Airport (EXT) is linked to around 20 countries and a number of UK destinations. Flybe has most flights, including to Aberdeen, Alicante, Amsterdam, Avignon, Belfast, Dublin, Dubrovnik, Edinburgh, Faro, Geneva, Glasgow, Guernsey, Jersey, Leeds, Málaga, Manchester, Newcastle, Nice, Paris and Salzburg.
Also, Thomson Airways has a good deal of flights, like those to Lanzarote, Corfu, Madeira, Crete, Ibiza, Cyprus, Gran Canaria, Malta, Menorca, Mallorca, Rhodes and Tenerife.

By Boat

France

Spain

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Contributors

as well as weyheyhey (6%), Herr Bert (1%)

South West England Travel Helpers

  • dream.big.

    I lived in Bournemouth for three months; there I got to know all about the English culture and tradition and I travelled to the most beautiful places in the south of England.

    Ask dream.big. a question about South West England
  • beth-a

    I live in the South West of England in North Devon, so if you have any questions please feel free to drop me a line. I also know a bit about Cornwall and can recommend places to go in the area! x

    Ask beth-a a question about South West England

This is version 12. Last edited at 8:46 on Aug 5, 16 by Utrecht. 13 articles link to this page.

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