We road tripped down to North Devon, two sun seekers aching for the sound of the ocean and the uncomplicated clink of a sunset glass of bubbles. I can’t pretend to be any expert on what to do in North Devon – but luckily my friend has been holidaying there since she was a child.
We deliberately kept our Devon days loose – to fit in lazy lie-ins, long breakfasts overlooking the oceans, lots of time watching the sunset over the beach, getting a bit lost and occasionally looking at my business emails.
(People often ask me if I tell my clients when I’m off on holiday but I don’t really – unless there’s a significant change in timezone.)
Northern Devon is ridiculously cute. Tiny winding country lanes leading to thrumming highways, teeny whitewashed villages and more modern towns, fish and chip restaurants on the seafront and cute cafes serving cream teas. What more do you need?
Basing ourselves in Westward Ho!
We stayed in Westward Ho! (fun fact: it’s the only town in the UK to have an exclamation mark as part of its name.) The name comes from Charles Kingsley’s book of the same name, which was a best seller and brought a new wave of tourism to his home town of Bideford, which led to the creation of Westward Ho! in the surrounding area. It made a great central base, and had everything you could need.
The beach is pretty rocky, but at low tide the sand flats reach for an age.
Appledore; a historic fishing village
Characterised by winding narrow streets and colourful houses, the charming village of Appledore sits at the confluence of the Taw and Torridge rivers with views across to Instow; it’s little surprise that the village is built on a tradition of fishing and boat building which still continues today.
It was the perfect place to have an ice cream, and a spot of Instagram bliss.
My only disappointment was not being able to buy some ridiculously fresh seafood from this darling shop (we stayed in a hotel without cooking facilities) though we did stop in for a few drinks and dinner on the food trail hotspots.
This is probably the most famous beach in the area, and has a good couple of miles of golden sand. We played in the breaking ocean, giggled at the wind breaker forts some families had cleverly constructed and nibbled a mini-doughnut or two as we watched the sun set. (The best part was walking back into the emptying car park and spotting all of the sand spots on the tarmac where people had shaken off the fine sand before hopping in their cars.)
Clovelly – one of the most famous villages in the world.
Clovelly has a single cobbled high street winds its way down the hillside to the ancient Clovelly harbour, through traditional whitewashed cottages festooned with fuchsias and geraniums – the street drops 122m (400ft) in 0.8km (half a mile) as it winds its way through Clovelly’s 16th century cottages to the harbour. (Just be careful driving to the car park when using a SatNav.)
Enjoyed a cream tea
I’ve always been convinced that it’s cream first, so I fit right in.
Found a quirky pub or two
When in England, right?
…where they welcome all!
It was just so uncomplicated and easy. Everyone we met in North Devon was incredibly Covid-19 aware – I understand that they have one of the lowest rates in England at the time of our visit, and we could see why.
It did mean a few gems were closed like Tintangel Castle (of King Arthur fame) and the Gnome Reserve and Wildflower Garden – but I’ll just have to go back to add them to this ‘what to do in North Devon’ list, won’t I!
And, it was only 3-ish hours on the train from central London. I always thought it was so much longer? Perhaps I got it confused with Cornwall which is slightly further down.
What’s your favourite seaside spot in England?
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