Our vibrant towns and cities

Devon is one of the largest English counties so the Royal Devon covers a wide area, excluding the unitary authorities of Plymouth and Torbay. You may find yourself living and working close to our acute hospitals in Exeter and Barnstaple, or in one of our community hospitals or teams across North, West, East and Mid Devon.


The historic Mid Devon market town of Crediton is in the heart of a traditional farming community and has an unusually magnificent church! Only seven miles from Exeter and just over thirty miles from Barnstaple, it’s well connected to both by road and rail. The reinstatement of an old branch line in 2021 means Crediton now has a regular rail service to the Dartmoor town of Okehampton too. For these reasons, it’s a rapidly expanding commuter town with plenty of new housing to the south where there’s also an out-of-town superstore and other shops.

Queen Elizabeth’s Community College provides secondary education for 11 - 18-year-olds

The Royal Devon has a community hospital in Crediton providing a range of care services locally.


Exmouth is one of Devon’s largest towns with a population of over 48,000 in 2022. A lively resort on Devon’s east coast, it’s 11 miles from Exeter and boasts two miles of golden sands. As its name suggests, Exmouth lies where the River Exe meets the sea. It’s also the western gateway to the majestic World Heritage Jurassic Coast, known for its abundance of fossils.

The town is great for families. You’ll find a good range of shops and restaurants in the pedestrianised town centre. Exmouth is a popular spot for water sports like kitesurfing, kayaking and windsurfing and has a contemporary seafront development with a dedicated watersports centre, alongside a restaurant and food outlets. Other family attractions include ten-pin bowling, soft play, children’s playgrounds, green spaces, seaside amusements and a marina. There are regular boat trips and cruises to explore the estuary and the coast.

Exmouth is well connected with regular bus services to Exeter and other parts of East Devon. Although the main road in and out can become busy at peak commuter times and in the summer, you can let the train take the strain. It’s a 20-minute journey on the scenic Avocet Line into the centre of Exeter. Alternatively, cycle along the estuary via Lympstone, Exton and Topsham.

Exmouth has a large community college and a big choice of housing that generally offers better value than a similar home in Exeter.

Exmouth Hospital has a limited number of inpatient beds, a Minor Injuries Unit, an X-ray department and a Day Surgery Unit. Other services and clinics enable patients to be cared for in their own community.


Honiton is a market town 17 miles northeast of Exeter, linked by the A30 and a rail line with direct trains to London. The town sits on the banks of the River Otter within East Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The surrounding countryside is spectacular with walking trails at many local beauty spots including Hembury Fort and Blackbury Camp. The Jurassic Coast and seaside towns like Seaton and Sidmouth are a short drive away.

 Famous for its lace, Honiton is regarded as one of the antiques capitals of the South West. The town has a good range of shops and facilities, including a lace museum and two award-winning public venues - Thelma Hulbert Art Gallery and The Beehive, a community venue with a programme of live performances and cinema evenings. It’s not short of bigger events either with an annual agricultural show, a biannual classical music and visual arts festival, and Hot Pennies Day every July - an unusual event where warmed coins are scattered from first-floor windows!

Honiton Community College is a non-selective secondary school and Sixth Form.

Honiton has a small community hospital with a Minor Injuries Unit and an X-ray department, along with a range of out-patient and health and social community services. There’s another cottage hospital in the nearby town of Ottery St. Mary.

North Devon and Torridge

There’s a cluster of small towns not far from Barnstaple in the districts of North Devon and Torridge.

The harbour town of Ilfracombe is surrounded by stunning coastal scenery and is enjoying something of a revival as a cultural and culinary hub on Devon’s north coast.

The riverside port of Bideford lies across the Taw-Torridge estuary from Barnstaple. It has a rapidly growing population and a more urban feel than the quaint coastal villages nearby.

The historic fishing village of Appledore has a long maritime history. Think narrow streets, colourful houses and cosy taverns. Across the water, Instow sits on a long sandy beach, popular with dog walkers, and has a fantastic choice of good pubs and eateries for a village of its size.

Inland, the market town of Great Torrington is close to the beautiful gardens of RHS Rosemoor and South Molton has the attractions of the Castle Hill Estate and Quince Honey Farm.

On the Torridge coast, there are two family theme parks - The Milky Way Adventure Park and The Big Sheep.


Okehampton, in the district of West Devon, is an ancient market town within a stone’s throw of the northern foothills of Dartmoor and all it offers. Okehampton has been described as the walking centre of Dartmoor and is the nearest town to the annual Ten Tors challenge for the South West’s teenagers. It’s also popular with cyclists taking the Granite Way to Lydford.

Attractions include the ruins of Okehampton Castle and the expansive parkland at Simmons Park with riverside walks, ornamental gardens and a Swiss-style chalet. Parklands Leisure Centre provides multi-sports facilities and playing areas for all ages. The handsome Town Hall adds a touch of elegance to the town centre, which has a good range of shops as well as the acclaimed Museum of Dartmoor Life.

With a newly reopened rail link to Crediton and Exeter, Okehampton is fast becoming a commuter town and has a lot of new housing for families. Okehampton College is a vibrant academy for students aged 11 - 19.

Okehampton Hospital is one of the Royal Devon’s community hospitals.


Devon’s largest city is a 45-minute drive from Exeter via the A38 Devon Expressway. With its exceptional ocean setting, Plymouth has a long naval history and boasts a wealth of attractions including a vibrant theatre with national touring productions; award-winning museum and art gallery, The Box, and Plymouth Aquarium. Plymouth also hosts many showcase sporting and cultural events, including the America’s Cup World Series, a national Armed Forces Day event and the impressive British Firework Championships, which light up the waterfront every year. The naval base, HMS Devonport, is one of the region’s biggest employers.

Plymouth City Council is a unitary authority with a large acute hospital at Derriford, operating under a separate NHS Trust.


The Regency town of Sidmouth is on the Jurassic Coast, 14 miles southeast of Exeter. With beautiful gardens and some fine hotels and Georgian buildings, it’s a ‘gentrified’ town with a certain timeless charm. Surrounded by stunning countryside, Sidmouth appeals to both tourists and residents seeking a seaside community with plenty of shops and facilities including a small cinema.

Sidmouth hosts a week-long celebration of music, dance and song at its yearly folk festival in early August, a tradition that started in 1955. Thousands of visitors descend on the town to attend hundreds of diverse events.

Sidmouth College is the local secondary school and Sixth Form. There’s also King’s School in nearby Ottery St Mary. Sidmouth’s independent school, St John’s, is both a day and boarding school for pupils aged two to sixteen.

Health facilities in the town are provided by Victoria Cottage Hospital and local GP services and clinics.


Centrally located in Mid Devon, the historic town of Tiverton is a comfortable drive from Exeter and Barnstaple. It’s well connected to both places and other parts of Devon by its proximity to the A361 North Devon Link Road, the M5 motorway and smaller routes - heading south to Exeter and the nearby market town of Crediton, and north to Dulverton and Exmoor National Park. It also has a main line train station - Tiverton Parkway - a few miles out of town. There’s lots of new housing on large developments close to the town.

Tiverton is a typical market town in the heart of Devon, centred around a traditional high street with a scattering of independent shops and cafes. The central Pannier Market sells a diverse range of local and artisan produce. The Grand Western Canal Country Park and Local Nature Reserve, known locally as the Tiverton Canal, has horse-drawn barge trips, a visitor centre, a canal-themed play park, cafes and picnic spots.

The town has one state secondary school, Tiverton High, and a large co-educational independent school, Blundell’s, with two sites for different age groups.

Tiverton and District Hospital is one of the Royal Devon’s largest community hospitals. It offers a range of services, including in-patient and out-patient care, a Maternity Unit and an Urgent Treatment Centre.


Known for its outstanding beaches and mild microclimate, the South Devon seaside resort of Torquay and the surrounding area of Torbay are nicknamed the English Riviera. Its other claim to fame is that the legendary comedy series Fawlty Towers was based on a Torquay hotel, of which there are many!

Torquay is a family favourite with plenty of attractions and things to do, particularly along the seafront that has, in part, been revitalised in recent years.

Like Plymouth, Torbay has its own unitary local authority and health services, including a large acute hospital that comes under a separate NHS Trust.

Last updated: May 04, 2023.