by Sarah Howells
For the adventurous, campsites are spaced widely throughout the area, and for those who want to enjoy some luxury, the famous 4* Saunton Sands Hotel or a spray of cute B&Bs provide more substantial shelter! So whether you’re visiting for a mini-break weekend, or a couple of weeks, here’s the best things to do, visit and eat in North Devon.
The most important, and certainly most enjoyable, features of North Devon are its abundance of delicious food! No visit to the county is complete without trying a Devonshire Cream Tea!
Mouth-watering scones, served with a good sized dollop of clotted cream and a generous helping of strawberry jam make Devon’s trademark treat. Although called a “cream tea”, it is traditionally served without tea, although most places will offer a pot of tea or coffee to accompany the scones.
The Thatch Pub in Croyde offer a delicious cream-tea, or for something a bit different try Baggy’s cafe – a unique cafe in Croyde with “beach style” flooring and gorgeous cliff-top views.
Another iconic Westcountry treat is Roly’s Fudge. This delicious, melt-in-the-mouth fudge can be bought from Barnstaple Pannier Market, or the Quay in Ilfracombe, and once you try it you will be buying it by the bag-load!
From the everlasting, breezy Saunton Sands to the romantic sunset views of Instow, North Devon offers some of the most clean and attractive beaches on the UK coastline.
If you want to enjoy a long walk on a dog friendly beach, enjoy a hot chocolate whilst overlooking this dreamy stretch or perhaps explore the UK’s largest network of sand dunes in the biosphere reserve of the Braunton Burrows, Saunton Sands is the ideal choice. The Burrows, which shelve directly onto the beach, host a variety of over 400 plant species and many animals, including the beautiful but shy Adder. The rising dunes will give nature lovers and hikers alike a great workout, and provide a spectacular area to get lost in!
Feeling adventurous or want to try something new? Why not head over to Croyde for some surf lessons! Great fun for any age – and a perfect family bonding session – surfing is a fun and exciting way to get fit, learn something new, and see the beach from a different angle.
ramble through the fresh countryside air, take in the glowing autumn colours and revive yourself by strolling along the spectacular beaches. All, of course, followed by a hearty pint of local ale or scrumpy cider - blissful!
However, if your idea of a holiday is to sit on the beach and take in the views, Instow has the answer. This estuary beach has perfect views of the romantic sunset, overlooking the quaint seaside towns of Appledore. And of course, it houses the infamous Hockings Ice Cream Van! This clotted cream ice-cream, made in Appledore, has grabbed nationwide attention and no visit to the area is complete without it!
Other beaches in the area which are worth a visit include the adjoining stretch of Woolacombe and Putsborough, with its crystal clear waters and Westward-Ho! – the UK’s only town with an exclamation mark.
If you’re looking for something to do for the day, here are some of the best options.
For a relaxing day of mooching, visit Lynton and Lynmouth, two coastal towns on the edge of Exmoor. No visit would be complete without a trip on the world-famous cliff railway between the two towns. The 862ft length of track goes from Lynmouth, at the foot of the cliffs, to Lynton, 500ft above it, and enjoys stunning views of the coastline – perfect for photography fans!
For those who enjoy fishing, boating, or generally want to sight-see from a different perspective, the fishing town of Ilfracombe offers boat trips for everyone. Take a morning Mackerel or deep-sea fishing, enjoy the sites around the Exmoor coast and maybe even see some Seals. Or for those who want to travel a bit further afield, take the MS Oldenburg ferry out to Lundy Island for the day, and perhaps see the famous Lundy Puffins.
If you’re into Wildlife, then Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park provides the perfect family day out, especially if you have the grandchildren with you! Walk around the park’s scenic grounds, feed the Lemars, see the lions in their den, and learn all about the dinosaurs in this diverse park.
If you prefer a bit more of an active day out, take a walk or cycle down the Tarka Trail – the old Barnstaple railway line which is now a popular cycle path. Bike hire is widely available along the path, and the Tarka Inn at Heanton provides a perfect stop off point from Braunton – Barnstaple, with warming pub-grub and views across the estuary.
Overall, North Devon provides the perfect escape. With the winter nights drawing in, ramble through the fresh countryside air, take in the glowing autumn colours and revive yourself by strolling along the spectacular beaches. All, of course, followed by a hearty pint of local ale or scrumpy cider - blissful!
For more information on what Devon has to offer, view our article here!