Devon Vs. Cornwall

Published: Wednesday 27th Mar 2013

It’s a rivalry as old as time, but one that is still to be settled. Which is best – Devon or Cornwall?

Both counties boast a stunning coastline, jaw-dropping countryside and some pretty tasty cream teas, but who wins the vote of the best of the South West? Here we take a look at some of the areas in which the counties thrive to decide once and for all.


The idyllic landscape of Devon and Cornwall has drawn many writers to its midst over the years, with both counties producing some incredible literary talent.  Here are some of the best authors and novels from both counties that will certainly give you some reading material to take on your next holiday to St Ives or Westward Ho!.

Devon has not only produced several great authors, but it has also attracted and inspired a great number too. Veronica Henry, before moving to the North Devon coast with her three sons and her husband, had previously worked on such projects as BBC’s The Archers and Holby City. Now, however, you are more likely to catch her enjoying walks on North Devon’s renowned beaches soaking up inspiration for her next successful romance novel. Her bibliography includes the Honeycote Saga, Wild Oats, Love On The Rocks and An Eligible Bachelor, for which she was nominated for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by the Romantic Novelists' Association, which she then went on to win in 2014 with her 2013 novel A Night on the Orient Express. Henry’s novels often reference some of the beautiful icons of the Devon coast, including The Beach Hut, The Beach Hut next Door and Love on the Rocks.  She has also written a couple of books that feature Cornwall, where The Long Weekend is set in a fictional version of Fowey called Pennfleet, and her next book, High Tide, is set in the same town.

Here she told us why she loves Devon so much.

“Whether you are looking for family fun, a weekend of action adventure or a romantic getaway, Devon is the perfect escape, with its wild beaches, rolling countryside and stunning landscape ranging from moors to cliff tops to seaside towns.  There truly is something for everyone.  It’s a story waiting to happen.”

 Veronica Henry    -  Veronica Henry 


Other great works to have come out of Devon include Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson, which is today considered one of the great works of British literature, having influenced the likes of Ted Hughes and Rachel Carson. Additionally, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, which was later adapted as an acclaimed film by director Steven Spielberg, Lorna Doone by Richard Doddridge Blackmore set in 17th Century Exmoor and Agatha Christie, whose life in Torquay inspired a number of her novels, are more examples of Devonshire talent.

While Devon has produced and inspired a great number of talented writers, Cornwall has seen its fair share of literary prowess. Daphne du Maurier, author of Rebecca and Jamaica Inn, was greatly inspired by her life in Cornwall, where both of these famed novels are inspired by her surroundings. Similarly, Cornwall has another great claim to fame in Lord of the Flies author Sir William Golding, who was born in Newquay in 1911.

Despite Golding winning the Nobel Prize in Literature for Lord of the Flies, it is hard to argue with the sheer volume of literary volumes to have come out of Devon, therefore…

Winner: Devon



In addition to the South West being a great inspiration to writers, it is also a fantastic muse for artists. Controversial contemporary artist Damien Hirst chose Devon not only to live, where he has spent the past 20 years living in his remote farmhouse in Combe Martin, but also to house one of his most significant recent works, Verity, which stands in Ilfracombe harbour.

Further cementing Cornwall’s artistic significance is the Tate St Ives. While Cornwall has always been renowned for producing artists who can’t help but be taken in by the county’s dramatic coastline and landscape, the Tate is what secures the area’s artistic future, acting as a platform for local artists and illustrating to the world that Cornish art is something very special indeed.

While Hirst’s Verity caused a media storm, it is hard to argue with the force that is the Tate St Ives…

Winner: Cornwall



Where do you even start when it comes to the West Country and music? With Devon having spawned the likes of rock band Muse, Chris Martin of Coldplay fame and being the childhood home of Ben Howard, it certainly puts the county high up in the rankings of home grown musical talent.

Then Cornwall comes back fighting with Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, Keren Woodward of Bananarama, James Morrison, Roger Taylor the Queen drummer and not to mention Sir Tim Rice, who has a house on the Lizard Peninsula.

It’s too tough to call…

Winner: Draw



The theatre battle between the South West counties is a short one. Who could argue against the majestic beauty that is the Minack Theatre? A venue as stunning as the performances it hosts, this clifftop open-air stage is world-renowned and a great attraction for so many visiting the most western point of Cornwall at Porthcurno.

Winner: Cornwall



Cider and the south go hand in hand and as the golden stuff met a revival in recent years, its image has gone from strength to strength, with Devon and Cornwall helping it along the way.

One such company to aid in this quest is Sandford Orchards of Crediton, Devon. Producing some of the most delicious award-winning ciders, its reputation extends beyond its remote location. The only trouble you’ll have is deciding which of their ciders to try first: should you try Devon Mist, the notoriously dangerous Devon Scrumpy or the famed Devon Red?

Here they weigh in on the Devon Vs. Cornwall debate.

‘If clinging on to a wizened tree for fear of being blown off a granite and slate cliff-top into the sea is your thing then I guess Cornwall is the answer.

If you want history, trade, commerce - the naval seat of the western world, two rugged moors and coastlines then you may want to stop in the land of Sunshine Cream and Cider...’

Sandford Orchards     -  Sandford Orchards 


Winner: Devon


Cream tea

Perhaps an argument that will never be settled is the true home of the cream tea. How do you do your cream tea? Cream first, or jam first?

If you are the latter than you side with the Cornish camp, doing famed Cornish clotted cream maker Rodda’s proud. If you’re a cream first kind of scone-r, then your tastes lie in Devon.

Whichever your preference, we don’t think anyone is brave enough to make that final say!

Winner: Draw



It is the symbol of Cornwall and on that note it may be hard to argue that Devon could win this round, but enough controversial articles have surfaced over the years to suggest there might still be room for debate.

However, there are enough award-winning pasty producers in the far west to argue that the Cornish pasty is still very much all that. If there were still any doubt, the fact that the name ‘Cornish pasty’ was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commission in 2011 should put the debate to rest.

Staying in a Cornish holiday cottage this summer? Philps Cornish pasties in Hayle are famous throughout the South West. Dating back to 1958 they certainly know how to serve up a tasty slice of tradition.

Got a Cornish pasty craving that can’t wait till your holiday? Posh Pasty Co. supply the country from Land’s End to London, so you’re never too far away from the traditional delicacy. Run by TV cook James Strawbridge with his wife Holly, who are passionate about using only the highest quality Cornish ingredients in all of their produce, you know you’re getting the real deal!

‘The south west has an incredibly rich tradition for quality food and drink but for me Cornwall is the cherry on the icing or the clotted cream on top of the scone. I love the pride that Cornwall has in its cooking heritage with protected foods like the Cornish Pasty and vast range of superb raw ingredients: from seafood to dairy, preserves to rare breed meats. The Cornish have the ability to enthuse visitors with their proud food and drink scene and the quality is increasing all the time. If you visit Cornwall you tend to leave with a real taste of the county. The strong local identity and real passion for tasty food and drink is intoxicating.’

James Strawbridge     -  James Strawbridge 


Winner: Cornwall


Ice Cream

Next to clotted cream, ice cream is a food staple of the South West. With Devon and Cornwall both popular farming country, ice cream is one of the most produced products in both counties – but who does it best?

Verney's Molton Ice of South Molton, Devon is as Devonian as it gets. Making ice cream from milk taken from the dairy herd at Parsonage, with other locally sourced ingredients providing the flavours, you can be sure you are enjoying a truly local product when on holiday in Devon. Here Janet Verney of Verney’s Molton Ice weighs in on why she loves living in Devon.

‘I like to partake in tradition with a freshly baked scone, Devon Clotted cream made in the old fashioned way topped with homemade Strawberry preserve. A special treat which is soon “scone” but then I am Devonian!’

 Molton Ice    -  Molton Ice 


The Cornish equivalent? It has to be Kelly’s. Kelly’s of Cornwall is Cornish to its core. Made in Cornwall with Cornish milk and Cornish clotted cream, one taste will have Celtic coming out of your ears. Their new flavour, Clotted Cream and Salted Caramel, is enough of a reason to make the trip, but thanks to their increasing popularity all you need is a trip to the local supermarket as Kelly’s is now sold in Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and all other major supermarkets. 

Kelly's Ice Cream

While it’s a hard battle and no taste test could decide a winner, the fact that you have to make the trip to Devon for an exclusive taste of Molton Ice leaves the scales ever so slightly tipping in their favour…

Winner: Devon



With some of the best stretches of coastline in the country, you cannot have a Devon Vs. Cornwall debate without mentioning the surf.

Both counties boast incredible surf spots and beaches, making this particular debate one of the most difficult of the lot. Eyeball Surf Check sees countless hits a day, with locals and visitors to Devon wanting to check out the swell at Woolacombe, Putsborough, Saunton Sands and Croyde. Few areas boast such a great range of breaks where you can have your pick of rides, with slow waves perfect for longboarders at Saunton, fast, punchy rides at Croyde, a more sheltered wave at Putsborough and a paddle out at the UK’s best beach Woolacombe.

Despite this great range of surf spots to choose from, Cornwall is equally well known. Newquay’s Fistral is among the most popular surf spots in the country, as well as being home to a number of prominent surf competitions throughout the year, and the rest of county offers a great range of spots for beginners through to pros.

Both counties boast their fair share of home talent, with the likes of Alan Stokes, Andrew Cotton ‘Cotty’ and Tom Lowe calling the counties home. See this article for a taste of what St Ives’ surf has taught Lowe.

Winner: Draw




You saw it coming didn’t you?! Who could possibly choose between the two? It would be like choosing between your children. Both Devon and Cornwall offer so much, whether it’s during a summer or Easter break or a weekend escape, it is the South West that is best!

Image Credit: Stewart Black, Steven Zolneczko, Benson Kua, Stuart Webster ( Veronica Henry – Orion Books, Sandford Orchards, Posh Pasty Co., Molton Ice - Guy Harrop, Kelly’s Ice Cream

This content was written by Ben Edwards.