“Forget Devon, this little British county punches well above its weight”

dorset travel county england - Getty

dorset travel county england – Getty

Telegraph Travel experts determined England’s largest county by weighing its offerings of natural wonders, luxury, history, culture and peace and tranquillity.

As per their methodology, Devon took first place with 79 points which separated it from second placed Cumbria.

Telegraph readers took the opportunity to say if they agreed with the ranking, with many arguing for their number one county in the comments section.

Does Devon deserve the top spot?

Indeed, many readers agreed that Devon took the top spot, emphasizing its unmatched diversity of scenery and overwhelming range of history to be discovered. But readers also expressed concern if the county’s infrastructure fails to meet the needs of its growing population.

@S Willis:

“The ranking doesn’t surprise me. No other county has the scenic diversity of Devon, including its moors, coasts, forests, arable land, rivers or estuaries. Even in midsummer Dartmoor is virtually deserted while Cumbria is overcrowded. There are so many undiscovered parts of the interior – Exe and Teign Valleys, the Torridge from Bideford south to Hatherleigh and much of Exmoor. Mind you, I’m biased because I live here.”

Instow, Devon, England, United Kingdom, Europe - Robertharding / Alamy

Instow, Devon, England, United Kingdom, Europe – Robertharding / Alamy

@Jeffrey Turner:

“I have lived in Devon for 22 years. It’s a beautiful county, but it’s gradually being built on everywhere. It will be heavily urbanized within 20 or 30 years. The growth of housing without corresponding development of infrastructure – including transport, healthcare, schools, water and sewage systems – is a particular problem in Devon.”

@Stephen Luscombe:

“I was born and raised in Devon. It really is a beautiful place, but we are in excellent company on this list – who needs to go abroad to enjoy such wonderful history, culture and scenery here!”

@Christopher Hosking:

“Living in Devon I cannot agree with his position at all. It is one of the largest counties that has so many characteristics. However, it has poor infrastructure and too much traffic, meaning if you want to enjoy many of its specialties, travel distances become a nightmare. While there are notable restaurants, most don’t try during seasonal times, and too often know they have their own market and charge accordingly.”

@Anthony Sperrin:

“Ahh, Dartmoor in Devon. If you park in any of the many car parks, except Hay Tor, where the grockels and strollers drive, and you’ll be away from all the tourists in minutes. Walk 10 miles without seeing a soul is not uncommon. The history of your surroundings can be overwhelming, with endless sights to wander past. The changing landscape in some areas is reminiscent of Patagonia, and there are other forested valleys reminiscent of Austria or Germany. The nature and the old people worked magic on Dartmoor. My favorite place to walk in the whole world.”

Any other contenders?

Not all readers were convinced, however, and took the opportunity to defend their beloved English county. North Yorkshire, Dorset, Northamptonshire, Greater London and Hertfordshire were among the counties that received high praise from readers and revealed hidden gems.


“How does North Yorkshire come in 23rd out of 48 in the ‘Peacefulness’ standard? It’s the size of Kent and Norfolk combined, but has only one motorway. Forty percent of the area is taken up by national parks. The largest settlement in North Yorkshire has fewer than 100,000 inhabitants. There is no urban sprawl. There are forests, hills, lochs and some of the darkest skies in all of England outside of Northumberland. It also has one of the lowest population densities of any county.

“I’m not saying it should necessarily be number one, but number 23 is too low. A higher rank on the peacefulness standard would improve his overall position.”

North Yorkshire-Getty

North Yorkshire-Getty

@Daisy Clarkson:

“I live and grew up in North Yorkshire, in one of its national park areas. It’s great to see our beautiful county in third place. However, it is not where it used to be. Too many second homes and vacation homes are killing the very communities that draw tourists and are home to locals like me. In a nearby village, only five houses are permanently inhabited. The rest are second homes. Something has to change.”

@Private comment:

“I work in Devon but live in West Dorset. Devon is huge so its size allows you to have it all and it’s the right place for the weather. Dorset is quite small but I would suggest hitting well over weight. However, a seasonal element is missing. As a resident, the best time to live in Dorset isn’t actually summer but spring and autumn when the tourists aren’t here and the streets are quieter. That’s the downside of not having a freeway across the county.”


“There are parts of Dorset that look the same as they did in the 19th century, but you have to look for them. For stunning views try from the top of Askers Hill on the A35 towards Bridport, taking the steep valley views of the English Channel to the left and the valleys to the right drawing but holding the view of Eggardon Hill Keep it a secret because we prefer the crowds head further west to the Disney-inspired world of Devon and Cornwall.

@Elizabeth Hornsby:

“People don’t know what they’re missing. Northamptonshire has many historic houses but fortunately they are mostly privately owned and are often treasured by families who have lived there for hundreds of years. The National Trust and English Heritage are not the only custodians of our heritage. The Grand Union, which meanders through our county, including Stoke Bruerne, one of the most important canal crossings, is our pride.”

@Night owl:

“London is also a national park city, with 14,600 people per square mile up to the M25, with far more green space, canals, rivers, gardens, parks, lakes, woods and woods than most people realize anywhere else. Not to mention its sports fields, lidos, swimming pools, sailing centers, golf courses and football clubs.”

@K spots:

“No mention of Suffolk. It has wonderful restaurants, beaches, scenic, peaceful countryside and incredible culture in Aldeburgh and Snape.”



@Robert Hochfeld:

“Herefordshire has the most beautiful countryside in England. Its towns such as Hereford, Ledbury, Bromyard, Leominster, Ross-on-Wye are beautiful and steeped in history. After all, these are the brands. Every village (many black and white and 700 year old) has a Mott and Bailey and there will be a castle a few miles away. We have plenty of both within a few miles.

“Stray across the border and you’ll find yourself in stunning Powys, beautiful South Shropshire or the Malvern Hills on the Worcestershire border. To the south we have the amazing Symonds Yat on the River Wye and on the edge of the vast Forest of Dean with its wild boar. To the west has the Black Mountains.

“I would never trade another county for this amazing place. 31st? Do you know where the story of the Baskerville dog came from? Hergest Court, near Kington. Don’t forget Black Vaughan who lived there. Or the music of Mike Oldfield playing at the Cattle Shed near Lyonshall. A magical land.”

The agony of choice

While many readers were crucial, others felt spoiled by England’s many fine offerings. They argued that each county has its own idiosyncrasies and it was impossible to choose between them.

@ WillBill:

“Obviously personal preference, but if you like the sea any county on the south coast would be fine, although some may be preferable to others. Somerset is pleasant but I would probably prefer Wiltshire. Some pretty villages in Berkshire. Herefordshire is beautiful (as is Brecon, albeit in Wales.) North Yorkshire is fantastic and the East Anglia coast is wonderful. Let’s face it, we’re spoiled for choice.

@Derek Miller:

“With the right balance between objectivity and subjectivity.

“For me it’s North Yorkshire every time, followed by Northumbria, but in my experience every English county has its own charm, even the most landlocked.”

@Adam Seedon:

I totally agree with the result. However, Cumbria is the most outstanding. Part of the score was for the weather. Take that out of the equation and Cumbria wins hands down. But Devon and Cornwall are also stunning.

@Stephen Luscombe:

I was born and raised in Devon. It really is a beautiful place, but we’re in excellent company on this list.

What do you think is England’s greatest and worst county? Join the discussion in the comments section below

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