Places of interest and activities
These are some of our favourites.
If you find any special places you’d like to recommend to others, please let us know so we can add them.
Skern Lodge activity centre. Everything from kayaking to rafting, rock climbing, surfing, etc.
Cycling, Tarka Trail. Once the old railway line, it is now a very peaceful track for cyclists and walkers. Running from Braunton to Meeth, near Dartmoor, it winds through a wide variety of habitats. Download audio guides to the trail here.
Banger racing events are held throughout the summer. The locations change and the dates aren’t announced until late, but look out for signs, it’s a really fun day out. For info click here.
Dartmoor & Exmoor national parks
Dartmoor & Exmoor national parks are both within 1 hour drive. Each has its own mood, both offer mile after mile of rugged walking. Wild ponies, deer, granite tors and amazing views. Click on the following links for Exmoor walksand Dartmoor walks. On the way back from Dartmoor, you could stop at The Duke of York in Iddesleigh – great, locally reared food.
The Eden Project
The Eden Project
Barnstaple Farmers Market
Barnstaple Farmers’ Market is thriving.
Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Pannier Market, Town Centre. Butchers Row shops open all week.
Lundy Island off the North Devon coast is a Site of Special Interest and its seas are England's only Marine Nature Reserve. Breathtaking and remote, walkers will love Lundy. If you’re lucky, you might see basking sharks, seals, puffins and guillemots. The MS Oldenburg sails from Bideford and Ilfracombe. Or Clovelly Charters run day trips too.
The Old Smithy, Welcombe
The Old Smithy, Welcombe (01288 331305) is a great place to stop after a cliff walk. Very cozy inside and with a beautiful beer garden. All the food is locally sourced and very good. Regular folk music nights, quiz nights make it a great local.
The Duke of York, Iddesleigh
The Duke of York, Iddesleigh (01837 810253). The very hospitable landlord, Jamie, farms his own beef, so you know the meat will be good. The steak and kidney pudding is to die for – you may need to share it though. CAMRA North Devon pub of the year 2008.
Welcombe Mouth (rugged, unspoilt) is just one of the outstanding natural beaches along the North Devon Heritage coast. Only sandy at low tide, but the rock pools, stepping stones and wonderful cliff walks make up for it. And a lovely pub at the top of the hill serving great food. 30 mins drive (on the Cornish border).
Horse riding. there are several stables in the area, offering lessons and treks. The closest is Kingsland Stables, Woolsery. Exmoor is a lovely place to ride. For a list of local stables click here.
Saint Swithun's Church, Littleham
Saint Swithun’s Church, Littleham is a beautiful Norman church 5 mins walk from Hollands. Head across the field to the right of the cattle grid. At the top of the hill by the parish hall, take the cobbled track in front, down to the church. The churchyard is full of local history and wild flowers.
Woolacombe, Croyde & Putsborough
Woolacombe, Croyde & Putsborough (sandy, surfing, kids) are all great surfing beaches offering all the facilities for hire. They all get very busy at weekends though. 30-40 mins drive
Instow (sandy, kids, very safe) sits just inside the Taw & Torridge estuary so it is sheltered from the Atlantic waves that pound the other beaches. Perfect for young children. 15 mins drive.
South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path, Britain’s longest national trail, runs right along the North Devon Heritage Coast. These are the cliffs that inspired Daphne du Maurier and countless tales of wreckers. Cloaked in gorse, sea pinks and bracken, they look wild, but the path is very well maintained. Anywhere between Baggy Point near Croyde to Morwenstow in Cornwall is easily accessible from here (15-45 mins drive). Our favourite stretch is between Hartland Quay and Welcombe (good pubs at both ends too). Plan a walk to suit you here.
The gnarled trees of Sloo Woods, between Peppercombe and Bucks Mills is carpeted in bluebells and wild garlic in May and the hedgerows are full of sloughs and blackberries in August.
Sandy Mouth (rugged, sandy, kids) has everything – sand, surf, rock pools, beautiful cliffs. Be careful though, the tide comes in fast here. Worth the extra drive if you make a day of it (it’s in Cornwall). 45 mins drive.
RHS Garden Rosemoor
RHS Garden Rosemoor is beautiful at any time of year. With 65 acres of gardens and woodlands, a café and nursery, it’s well worth a visit. Open Monday to Sunday 10am-6pm. 20 mins drive. For details click here.
Bideford Farmers' Market
Bideford Farmers' Market has great local produce. On the second and fourth Saturday of each month in summer, 9am-2pm on Bideford Quay.
Bideford Pannier Market
Bideford Pannier Market is a little disappointing (except the WI chutneys and cakes which are wonderful) but needs supporting. Tuesdays and Saturdays, 8am-3pm. Butchers Row shops open all week.
The Biosphere Reserve
The Biosphere Reserve run volunteer activities throughout the year, including drystone walling, coppicing and flora/fauna surveying. To find out more, click here.
Game & Course fishing
Plenty of wild trout and some salmon in the local rivers. For some suggestions and lakes/reservoirs, click here.
The Royal George, Appledore
The Royal George, Appledore (01237 474335) serves great fish freshly landed on the quay. It looks out across the estuary toward Braunton Burrows. Very friendly staff.
The picture postcard, historic fishing village of Clovelly is built into a steep cliffside. No cars are allowed in the village. Park at the top (expensive, sadly) and walk down the steep cobbled high street. Or walk along the cliff tops. Very pretty. 20 mins drive.
Hocking's Ice Cream
Keep an eye out for the Hocking’s Ice Cream vans. Possibly the nicest ice cream you’ll ever try. Made in Appledore since 1936 by the same family, and full of clotted cream.
Westward Ho! & Northern Burrows
Westward Ho! & Northam Burrows (sandy, surfing, kids) is another stretch of golden sand, this one backed by a 2 mile pebble ridge. This beach has become popular with kite surfers and sand yachts. The Northam Burrows end is definitely the nicer. 15 mins drive.
Speke's Mill Mouth
Speke’s Mill Mouth (rugged, unspoilt) is a little walk from the car but well worth it. Down the cliff path to a beach with great rocks to climb, rock pools full of life and caves to hide in. always popular with climbers, it has recently become a popular surf spot too (for experienced surfers only). 20 mins drive (just past Hartland Quay).
Appledore fresh fish
Appledore fresh fish trawlers land on the quayside. Landing times depend on tides and are posted on Appledore quay.
Saunton Sands, Braunton Burrows (sandy, surfing, kids). Mile upon mile of flat golden sand. You can hire boards on the beach at Saunton. For less crowds, head to the massive sand dunes of Braunton Burrows. The second largest dune system in the UK, Braunton Burrows is considered one of the most important in the northern hemisphere. 25-30 mins drive.
The Coach and Horses, Buckland Brewer
The Coach and Horses, Buckland Brewer has a really friendly landlord and is full of locals. Good food, cider, darts and pool.
Sea Fishing is very good off the North Devon coast, with sea bass, ray, pollack and sole being common. Many fishermen offer trips and tuition, ranging from 2 hours to the whole day. As well as Lundy Charters & Clovelly Charters, try the 'Sanderling', in Appledore who run 2 hour family trips (bookings from the Quay Gift Shop 01237 475096) as do ‘The Cheeky Monkey’ (bookings from Lizzie’s in Appledore 01237 471033).
Kite surfing, land boarding & buggies
Kite surfing, land boarding & buggies are growing in popularity. In April, Westward Ho! hosted a kiting festival and British Kite Surfing Association competition. For lessons click here.
Lathwells, Bideford won best restaurant in North Devon 2008. Great food, lovely staff and a relaxed atmosphere. John, the head chef, really cares about food and the local community – local pensioners grow the restaurant’s vegetables.