Focus on North Devon
Top reasons to stay in North Devon from a local mum
In North Devon, we’re surrounded by beautiful countryside, sandy beaches and family-friendly attractions, and sometimes it makes sense to spend precious time to explore what’s on our doorstep. The plan for our ‘holiday at home’ is pretty easy really: we spend the time pretty much being tourists. We visit local attractions, explore new walks, sit on less familiar beaches, try new cafes – and eat lots of ice cream!
In recent years we’ve visited the best that North Devon and Exmoor has to offer. So let me share some of our findings on the great places to go and things to do in this fabulous area…
New and improved this year
We love the newest additions to the family resort of Westward Ho! - pretty beach huts selling buckets and spades, body boards, coffee, ice cream, and everything that is needed to enjoy a whole day there. Fremington Quay, a picturesque spot with Tarka Trail access, bike hire, a large green and a great cafe, has added a big outdoor pirate ship play area for kids.
Best for: A free day out
With oodles of natural beauty and space, there’s no shortage of free fun to be found around North Devon and Exmoor. Crabbing is always a huge favourite, with favourite spots being the quays at Appledore and Ilfracombe. Geocaching is a recent discovery of ours; known as a ‘treasure hunt for the digital age’, you navigate your way to buried ‘treasure’ using a mobile phone. It’s a great way to get kids out on a walk, and there are hundreds of caches buried all over the area – find out more at www.geocaching.com.
There are great local parks in North Devon too: Bideford’s Victoria Park has three play areas to please all ages, plus a play fort, ‘castle’ with cannons, basketball, open-air kids’ paddling pool and skate park nearby, whilst Rock Park in Barnstaple has some innovative play equipment for all ages, a zip wire, and also a nearby skate park. It’s hard to beat a free day at the beach, with lots of rockpooling, sandcastle building, surfing and kite flying on offer. Our favourite family-friendly beaches are Saunton, Westward Ho!, Woolacombe and Croyde, which all have toilets, shops and lifeguard cover in high season.
Best for: Getting them active
Whether it’s sunny or stormy, July or January, it’s easy to get the whole family active in North Devon. To start, get on the Tarka Trail, which offers 180 miles of flat walking and a cycle trail that takes in woodland, striking countryside, and a beautiful coastline; plus there are cycle hire centres along the way.
Best for: Animal and nature lovers
Budding botanists, zoologists and geologists will find plenty to fascinate them, starting in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which has Braunton Burrows and its sand dune system at its core. It’s an amazing place to explore; before you visit go to www.northdevonbiosphere.org.uk to find out more about what you’ll see. The Valley of the Rocks is a great sight, with its dramatic geology and roaming herd of wild goats, whilst Wistlandpound Reservoir is a beautiful spot: follow the walk around the lake, and take a bird book and binoculars to watch the wildlife from the bird hide.
Feel inspired now to explore this stunning patch of our county? If so, head to www.northdevon.com.
A fascinating insight into the watery world at Ilfracombe Aquarium
Ilfracombe Aquarium is an exciting award winning, all weather, fun, educational attraction that provides a fascinating insight into the watery world of North Devon. The aquarium houses a diverse collection of local aquatic life in beautifully recreated natural habitats and the exhibits provide visitors with a unique zoned journey experience - starting from the source of an Exmoor stream, down the river to the estuary, to a local rockpool, then to Ilfracombe Harbour, the coast and then onto Lundy with its marine reserve.
Complimentary childrens’ quizzes following fun trails are offered on entry and friendly, caring, knowledgeable staff are on hand to help too.
To find out more visit www.ilfracombeaquarium.co.uk or call 01271 864533