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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 12:20 GMT
Singing the praises of Devon
By Andrew Segal
BBC News Online Devon

Dartmoor National Park
Dartmoor National Park gets 10 million visitors a year
Why is Devon the best place to live? It might be difficult to narrow it down to one reason.

But given the choice, many might decide that it is the scenery which has helped it win this latest accolade from Country Life magazine.

Few are able to come to the county and not be completely awestruck by the delights of the countryside.

Dartmoor is probably the most famous spot in the county for those who appreciate the beauty of nature.

The often-rugged landscape of the national park, most famously depicted in the Sherlock Holmes adventure The Hound of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is scattered with Bronze Age settlements and medieval churches - and gets some 10 million visitors a year.

Have Your Say on BBCi Devon

But there is more than just a moor. There are two, if you remember that a large section of Exmoor is also within the county boundary.

East Devon has part of the now-famous Jurassic Coast.

The 95 mile (150 kilometre) stretch of shore (which also carries on into Dorset) is a United Nations' World Heritage Site, famous for its dinosaur fossils, including previously unknown species.

Much of the east is also designated an Area of Outstanding Beauty.

To the south of the county is the English Riviera, including the favourite holiday spot Torquay.

There is also the South Hams - an area of exceptional contrast with a patchwork of fields and woodland, river estuaries, rolling hills and clean beaches.

Slapton Ley in south Devon - a Site of Special Scientific Interest
These are just a few of the places in the fastest growing county in the fastest growing region of England, according to the 2001 census which has seen a population growth of 17.6% since 1981.

And even if people are not sure they want to live there, they certainly at least want to visit England's third largest county (at 670,343 hectares).

Visitors spend an estimated 1bn annually when they come and generate an annual income of 374m for the county.

But why so many visitors?

Apart from a remarkably mild climate, with an early spring and a short winter that tends to be bracing rather than bitter, the selection of sport activities is impressive.

Popular watersports

Cyclists can take to a selection of coastal and inland rides, both on and off-road. And for golfers, there are more than 40 courses across the county for people to improve their swing.

Walking, needless to say, is popular, with more than 1,000 miles of public footpaths and bridleways along the coastline and through countryside.

And seeing as the water's a bit warmer off the South West coast, watersports are also incredibly popular.

Sailing, surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing are all available at many schools in the county, as are snorkelling, diving and canoeing.

And, speaking of water: did you know that Devon is the only county in England that has two separate coastlines? It does, you know.

Cream tea, anyone?

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