Barnstaple is the oldest borough in the country and is the commercial and agricultural centre of North Devon. Saxons first settled in Barnstaple (Barum) over 1000 years ago; In 930 AD it was a Saxon stronghold serving as a market for the surrounding countryside.
Today it has a wonderful mixture of Victorian, Medieval and Georgian architecture and is proud to be a multiple winner of Britain in Bloom.The beautiful and bustling town of Barnstaple is perfect for retail therapy with high street shops and the Green Lanes shopping centre, along with cafes and bistros plus a great range of evening entertainment on offer from comedy nights to classical music. The oldest borough in the UK was founded at the lowest point crossing the river Taw and connects to the Tarka line railway and the off road Tarka Trail.
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It’s easy to see why Bideford is so popular with visitors and locals alike, as the narrow streets cascade from its historic pannier market towards the quayside in a jumble of antique shops, cafe’s and cosy pubs. Charles Kingsley’s description of Bideford as “The Little White Town, which slopes upward from its broad river tide” paints a picturesque one hundred & fifty year old image of the town that has not changed much to the present day.
However, Bideford is now definitely in the 21st century with its new Torridge Bridge,its recently enhanced quay area, excellent shopping, a variety of restaurants, and the lively pubs & themed bars Bideford quayside has been redeveloped in recent years and is now a stunning place to sit back, relax and admire the stunning water fountains at high tide. From the Quay you Take a trip to Lundy Island on the MS Oldenburg, the ferry that regularly makes the 14-mile journey to the island and back.
The Tarka Trail passes through Bideford and runs alongside the River Torridge on a former railway track. Popular with both cyclists and walkers, the Tarka Trail is a great way to explore the surrounding towns and villages including Instow. One of the busiest nights of the year is New Years Eve with Bideford renowned for being one of the best places to celebrate the occasion in the UK. Thousands kitted out in fancy dress flock to the town centre for live entertainment and fireworks on the Quay with a local tradition of running along Bideford long bridge; this is a great time of year to visit the town.
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North of Bideford and south of Westward Ho you’ll discover Northam which is thought to have been the site of an Anglo-Saxon castle, and boasts many unique buildings today. Here you’ll discover the Northam Burrows Country Park which lies at the western edge of the Taw Torridge Estuary. Lying within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty the Burrows forms an integral part of the newly designated United Nations Biosphere Reserve.
The Burrows provides one of the access points for the two miles of Westward Ho! Beach, thus combining the best of opportunities for land and marine leisure activities. Adjoining the Burrows is the Royal North Devon Golf Club – the oldest links course in England.
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Westward Ho! is a beach resort geared up to cater for every tourist's needs, With seaside shops, and a range of food outlets and great accommodation Westward Ho! is a popular family beach with a blue flag status. Made up of a long sandy beach backed by a pebble ridge with Northam Burrows Country Park accessible at one end this beach offers sand, rock pools and nature.
The wonderful surf that runs on to Westward Ho! draws surfers from miles around, and with designated surfing areas the beach caters for every activity. The surf is also home to wild sea bass, attracting anglers from all over the country.
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On the other side of Northam are the quaint, narrow streets and drangs of Appledore where there are many fishermen’s cottages, some of which date back to the Elizabethan era. Where the Taw and Torridge rivers meet, sits this delightful quayside village. Appledore boasts a small but great range of shops, pubs, guesthouses and art galleries. A thriving fishing and trading village since the 14th century, Appledore has been a famous boat-building centre for many years and the shipyard is still active today.
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Bude is Cornwall's most northern town and has been a popular seaside resort from Victorian times. In the l9th Century, the town was notorious for wreckers who plundered ship wrecked off the coast - over 80 vessels in the fifty year up to 1874.Bude has some good surfing beaches and was the site of the first life Saving Club. Widemouth Bay is a long sandy beach, looking out towards Lundy Island. Surfers tend to prefer the less popular beach of Crackington Haven. Back along the coombe here can be found the old church of St Gennys, which affords a wonderful coastal panorama from its churchyard.
Bude Castle, a castellated mansion overlooking Summerleaze Beach, was built by the inventor Sir Goldsworthy Gurney in 1830. He was the first man to make a lengthy journey in a mechanical vehicle when he drove a steam carriage from London to Bath and back. The building now houses the Town Council and the attractive grounds are used for concerts and fêtes throughout the summer. A seawater swimming pool under Summerleaze Downs offers safe swimming, for those who prefer to avoid the Atlantic rollers. There is also an indoor Leisure Centre in Bude, in addition to various other sports and entertainment venues.
The coastal scenery surrounding the beaches in the Bude area is quite stunning. There is plenty of interesting bird life for the dedicated twitcher and many lovely walks along the cliff tops. The cliff faces are used by rock climbers and the coastal path around here can be quite a strenuous walk. Along the coast is Sandy Mouth, an ideal family spot with lovely sands and plenty of rock pools. A little further towards Devon is Morwenstow, south of Henna Cliff. The cliff is a sheer drop down to the sea, the highest in Cornwall, and gives spectacular views across to South Wales.
The new Visitor Centre in the Crescent car park is worth visiting. There is an extensive display by the North Cornwall Heritage Coast and Countryside Service and a children's area. All necessary tourist information is available to help plan your holiday, indoors and outdoors. Bude has theatre, concerts, dances, discos, fêtes and other events throughout the season. Some of these events have an historical theme and are specially staged for visitors to the area. There is a weekly Cornish Furry Dance and an annual Carnival Week.
Bude is home to the increasingly popular Bude Jazz festival every August. What is now known as the Atlantic Highway or (A39 to give it it's less glamorous name!) links Bude to the other resorts along the north Cornish coast, ending in Newquay. It is an alternative route into Cornwall from North Devon. The Bude Canal was built in 1823 when it ran for 35 miles on different levels. It was designed to carry beach sand, used as fertiliser, toLaunceston, 20 miles away. It was also used to transport local produce.
The tub boats used on it had wheels so that they could be pushed up and down the inclines separating the levels. Only the first few miles of the canal have survived and are used for pleasure boats and fishing. The breakwater, sea lock and lower basin are all of interest.
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Ilfracombe is a popular holiday town on the North Devon coast. It started life as a small fishing village but expanded into a beach resort in the Victorian era, particularly after the arrival of the railway. There is a small harbour which was a useful haven for chips in the Bristol Channel when storms were brewing. The area has high cliffs and is quite hilly away from the town centre. The north coast is a good surfing area and in addition to Ilfracombe's own beaches there are several other stretches of sand within a short drive such as Woolacombe, Croyde Bay and Saunton Sands. Pleasure boats offer day trips to Lundy Island from the harbour as well as cruises along the rugged coastline with the chance of spotting seals and other sea creatures.
Once the haunt of Vikings and pirates, Lundy Island (or Puffin Island) is today safely in the hands of the Landmark Trust and is a beautiful and unspoilt place. It lies out in the Bristol Channel some 11 miles (23 km) off the coast of North Devon. During the summer it can be reached by boat from either Bideford or Ilfracombe. It is popular both for day trips and for lengthier stays, the Trust having a number of a holiday properties on their books. The island has three lighthouses, a castle, a church, a shop, a pub and miles of wild cliffs just waiting to be explored.
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In the 1820s four tunnels were dug through the cliffs at Ilfracombe allowing access through a headland to an area of coastline that had once been difficult to reach. The tunnels could be traversed either on foot or by carriage, and led to two tidal pools used for segregated male and female bathing. Back in those more prudish days, the women were expected to wear a swimsuit covering the whole body while the men frolicked naked in their separate pool. The tunnels still exist today, allowing you to pass through to the beach but perhaps today the men would be advised to take their swim suit.
The Landmark Theatre
This architecturally award-winning building with its unusual double-conical design seems to be either loathed or loved locally It is set on the seafront and has a year round program of events.
The ancient market town of Holsworthy is situated amidst the rolling green hills of North Devon. Within a short distance are the rugged cliffs of the Hartland Peninsula, the sandy beaches of Bude and nearby Widemouth Bay, the South West Coastal Path and fishing and boating on the Tamar and Roadford Lakes. Holsworthy is an ideal central base for visiting Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin Moor. It is planned to become one of the hubs for the Ruby Trail development, offering a network of walks, cycle paths and bridleways connecting to the famous Tarka Trail.
Holsworthy has been described as the traditional market town of Devon and still boasts a thriving cattle market. On each Wednesday, there is the popular Pannier Market, where locals mingle with visitors in the busy Market Square. This is the hub of rural life in the little town. In addition, there is also aWomen’s Institute Market also held every Wednesday. The Holsworthy market and fair charters are believed to date from the 12th Century. St Peter’s Fair week is held in early July each year. The main event of the week is the crowning of the Pretty Maid.
A variety of small shops cluster around the square, and there are several inns, cafés and tea rooms nearby. Holsworthy is an ideal place to stay to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the Devon countryside, yet having easy access to the major attractions of Devon and Cornwall.
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Hatherleigh is a small ancient market town in the heart of Devon, pleasantly situated on the banks of a rivulet, about a mile south of the river Torridge, 8 miles north of Okehampton and 11 miles south of Torrington. Its parish contains 1882 inhabitants, and 7041 acres of land, including a moor of 430 acres; and Stapleford, Fishley, Upcott, and other scattered farms. Hatherleigh’s weekly market, run on Tuesdays, has sales of sheep, cattle, and poultry, as well as a host of other stalls from local producers and regular auctions. It is the smallest town in Devon, yet boast three popular pubs; The Bridge Inn, The Tally Ho and The George. Hatherleigh also contains hairdressers, craft shops, a beauty salon, a news agency, a convenience shop, Estate Agents, Deli, and a post office.
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Great Torrington is known as the Cavalier Town as it played a significant role in the English Civil War (Battle of Great Torrington in 1646). It is sited on the top of an inland cliff, which provides extraordinary views of the valley and River Torridge below.
It is a vibrant community and people in the town, proud of their heritage, can often be seen dressed in costume for re-enactments, festivals and celebration.
Sited on top of an inland cliff, Great Torrington provides extraordinary views of the valley and River Torridge below. As a Cavalier town, Great Torrington played a significant role in the English Civil War (Battle of Great Torrington 1646) which is told by costume characters at the 1646 visitor centre. The Nearby attractions of the RHS Garden Rosemoor and Dartington Crystal make Great Torrington a great place to visit and why not stop for a hearty lunch in the town centre at the Plough Arts Centre - the gift shop is not to be missed.
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Wadebridge, one of North Cornwall's main market towns and gateway to the Camel Trail, now the third largest attraction in the whole of Cornwall. Wadebridge is a centrally located town has much to offer visitors of all ages and interests all year round.
One of the earliest recorded mentions of the town of Wadebridge, was in 1313 when a market and two fairs were granted to Wade, within the manor of Pawton. At this time the town was in two parishes, Egloshayle and St Breock, either side of the river Camel. Travellers gave thanks at both sides after a safe crossing. From this time the town became known as Wadebridge.
The Wadebridge and Bodmin Railway Line was opened in 1834 and was one of the first built in the world, it carried the first steam trains in Cornwall and was the first in West Britain to carry passengers. On the 13th April 1840 an excursion was run from Wadebridge to see the public execution of the Lightfoot brothers at Bodmin Gaol. On the 30th January 1967 the North Cornwall line was closed for all passenger services and the route is now known as the Camel Trail and is popular with both walkers and cyclists. Visitors can either walk to Padstow and the sea, or inland through wooded valleys to Bodmin and the moor.
The Camel Trail in North Cornwall, winds its way along the Estuary between Padstow and Wadebridge, then up into the hills of Bodmin Moor to Blisland. The scenery along this popular walking and cycling route is some of the most spectacular in the country.
The Camel Trail cycle route was created on 11 miles of disused railway that ran along the valley beside the River Camel, on what was once originally the Atlantic ExpressRoute from London to the West country.The Camel Trail links the towns of Padstow,Wadebridge and Bodmin. There is a branch line that follows the river through as it down from North Cornwall's rugged moor land village landscapes and wooded valleys around Blisland the picturesque market town of Camelford. The centre of the Camel Trail is Wadebridge, where the majority of people opt to follow the level/gently sloping route west to Padstow.
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