How to Spend a Bank-Holiday Weekend in North Devon
On arrival in North Devon, you will immediately be wowed by the sheer beauty of the Devon countryside. Depending on the route you come in by, you may experience the beautiful moorlands of Exmoor on your journey down or maybe the rolling fields around the A361 link road. If coming from Cornwall, the coastal and winding roads from Bude will give you a real sense that you’ve arrived in North Devon.
This part of Devon is vast and it can be hard to know where to start, so we’d suggest (assuming you're staying centrally) to break up the areas into west, mid and east to avoid too much travelling in between locations.
Day 1: West North Devon
On your first day, you can’t miss a day out in Clovelly. This quaint fishing village is one of only a few privately owned villages left in the UK today. The cobbled hill may seem daunting for some, but with a shuttle Land Rover heading up and down the hill throughout the day, don’t let this put you off visiting.
The view across the bay is stunning and worth visiting just for that, but with plenty of things to see in the village—such as the lifeboat station, terraces of old-style cottages and the donkeys—you won’t want to miss a trip here. While in Clovelly, make sure you take advantage of the Red Lion and have a hearty home-cooked meal in the pub!
If you have kids, then while over this side of North Devon, it’s worth popping by The Milky Way and North Devon Wake Park. Both have plenty of activities for families, and the Clone Zone roller coaster will either scare or thrill you all the way around!
While in this area, pay a visit to Hartland Quay and Point. The views from these vantage points across the sea are something else, and the lighthouse makes for a great photo. For something a bit more traditional, head inland to Bradworthy, a quiet little village just on the Cornwall/Devon border. With great pub grub at The Bradworthy Inn and a very quiet village square with local shops such as Martins and Balsdons, you will truly get a taste of Devonian life!
Day 2: Mid North Devon
In the middle of the North Devon coastline, you have an array of things to see and do; you definitely won’t fit everything into one day, so here’s just a snapshot of the best of the best.
Bideford is a quaint white town with links to Charles Kingsley and the Grenville family, relations of Sir Walter Raleigh. An old fishing port, there are many signs of modernisation while still keeping many features of the old town intact. The town itself is very local with lots of independent cafes and smaller stores to browse. Take lunch in any of the cafes; all are as good as the next! If you want something a bit different, head down to The Chocolate Tea Pot—the chocolate afternoon tea and dipping platters are to die for!
Little ones will love a day out at The BIG Sheep just outside of Bideford. This working farm will both educate and entertain all ages with their live shows, roller coaster and indoor and outdoor playgrounds. They also have a great café for tea and cake.
Just 5 minutes by car from Bideford, you’ll reach Westward Ho!—the only place in the British Isles to have an exclamation mark in its name. The beautiful beach and promenade will provide hours of entertainment. Arcades, eateries and fair attractions line the back of the beach and will keep everyone entertained, while those looking for a bit of sun will enjoy the expanses of golden sand on the beach itself.
Day 3: East North Devon
Heading east, you will find pretty seaside towns such as Croyde, Woolacombe, Ilfracombe and Combe Martin. All of these places have loads to see, and each is just as pretty as the next.
Croyde and Woolacombe are very much seaside towns with the main attraction being the beautiful beaches. Ilfracombe is a harbour town with a small aquarium and the famous Damien Hirst statue, Verity. Finally, Combe Martin is well known for The Wildlife and Dinosaur Park. These towns are all great for a visit so depends on what you’d rather do for your final day in North Devon.
A couple of must-sees while up in this area are the Valley of Rocks and Lynton and Lynmouth. The Valley of the Rocks is a stunning scene that will make you feel like you’ve left the planet. The staggered rocks have been likened to something from Mars! Lynton and Lynmouth are twin towns on the far east of North Devon—one at the top of the hill and the other at the bottom. Both are pretty towns and both are worth a visit so you can see their opposing vantage points!
There you have it—three fun-packed days out in North Devon! Although you'd be hard-pressed to cover everything in this article in three days, any of the activities above will give you a real feel for what North Devon has to offer its visitors. Plus, for the things you miss, you’ll just have an excuse to come back again!
© 2018 Emma Wonnacott