For centuries Devon and Cornwall have been split by an intense rivalry over their distinctive charms, their inhabitants arguing over anything from whether jam or clotted cream goes first on a scone to which one invented the pastie.And that’s before they move on to who has the best coastline or the finest towns and villages.But relations between the two are set to hit a new low with the discovery that some of the area’s most devoted fans cannot tell one from the other.For it seems that German tourists, who flock to the south west in their thousands every year, think the county of Devon is just part of Cornwall.The man in charge of promoting Britain as a holiday destination for the Germans has revealed that while they are enthusiastic fans of Cornwall’s charms, few realise Devon – never mind Dorset and Somerset – is a separate entity. Mr Lenz added: “We always use the proper names for the counties whenever we are promoting the region. But the Germans have a fixed idea about the area. While it may be good for Cornwall, it’s not so good for Devon.”Bizarrely, the German fascination with Cornwall is in great part due to the popularity of an English writer of romantic fiction.Cornish-born Rosamunde Pilcher is a household name in Germany, where her books have sold millions and where TV dramatisations of her stories are staple viewing. The distinction was reinforced following the departure of the Romans and the creation of the Kingdom of England in 927, when the country was divided into ‘shires’, each administered by a sheriff. Pride of Cornwall or Devon? Longstanding row between the two areas over who invented the pastyCredit:Matt Cardy/Getty Images But now Devon’s tourism industry is fighting back, promoting its charms as superior to Cornwall’s.Ms Everton said: “Devon is a unique destination in its own right with so much more to offer.“We’re the only county with two coastlines, We have two national parks, more Michelin Star establishments, some of the best sustainable seafood on the planet and we’re two hours closer to London and Channel ports than Cornwall.” Their setting – amid locations such as the 16th Century Prideaux Place, near Padstow, and the coast line between Chapel Porth and St Agnes Head – has led to a continuous flow of German families to the area, keen to enjoy Pilcher’s Cornwall for themselves.“The vast majority of Germans live far away from the coast so they love visiting an area where there is so much of it,” said Mr Lenz. “The south west coastal path is very popular with them, along with the great mix of historic attractions and gardens, romantic little villages and historic towns which feature in Pilcher’s films.”To clarify, for any German visitors reading this; the dividing line between the two halves of that tract of southern England which stretches from Land’s End in the west to the Blackdown Hills in the east, has its origins in the pre-Saxon Celtic tribes known in Latin as the Dumnonii and Cornovii. Tribal differences have continued to the present day, with one fierce argument breaking out after historians claimed the discovery of a 16th-century recipe proves the ‘Cornish’ pasty first appeared in Devon.Cornish historians countered that although Devon may have the earliest written record, pasty recipes had been handed down by word of mouth in Cornwall since 8,000BC.Then there’s recurring dispute over whether the jam should go on the scone first, followed by the clotted cream – as in Cornwall, or cream first as in Devon. But try explaining that to the Germans.Sally Everton, the general manager of Visit Devon, said the German habit of confusing Devon with Cornwall was frustrating for everyone in the county.It’s not just the fault of Rosamunde Pilcher. Only last week a German woman rang her to ask where in Devon ITV’s Doc Martin is filmed. It happens to be Port Isaac – in Cornwall. Naturally, when this happens, she suggests some fine Devon alternatives – such as Saltram House, in Plympton, where Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility was shot. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Caroline Stephani, of Coast & Country Cottages, which specialises in self-catering accommodation in south Devon, said: “Devon offers something for visitors of all ages. We’re nearer to international airports and continental ferry ports than our Cornish neighbours, and there’s no toll charges on leaving the county, unlike Cornwall. Don’t miss out on the best of the west, visit Devon!”And Julie Hunt, the Devonian born and bred Mayor of Barnstaple, has a message for the Germans.“Cornwall is a lot windier and colder and I think we’re more friendly in Devon. And they speak funny down there. I’d say don’t forget Devon, we’re just as good as Cornwall. In fact we’re better.”But even Devon’s most ardent champions are prepared to admit the confusion may be understandable.“Many Germans are unaware of ‘county boundaries’,” said Ms Everton. “But then again how many Brits travelling to Germany can name its 16 states, or even a couple of them?” Holger Lenz, the head of VisitBritain in Berlin, said: “Germany represents the biggest international market for Cornwall. However, Devon is totally unknown in Germany. People here don’t realise the country is a distinct area and think it’s just part of Cornwall.“In fact, some Germans think the whole of south west England is called Cornwall because it’s such a well known region here.” Ladram Bay in Devon: Rivaling anything in Cornwall, say its fans Credit:Mark Bauer/Getty Images Wild ponies on Exmoor National Park, in north DevonCredit:Southern Lightscapes-Australia/Moment RF Novelist Rosamunde Pilcher, whose romances have made Cornwall hugely popular with the GermansCredit:Adam Berry/Getty Images Sunrise over the river Tamar, with the Royal Albert Bridge and Tamar Bridge, in Saltash, CornwallCredit:Aaron Dinham/Moment RF Ms Everton said matters were not helped by the fact Cornwall, as a “distressed region,” receives additional funding from the EU to promote itself, while Devon does not. “We’ve been in the wilderness,” she said.