Staying in a holiday cottage in North Devon offers the best of both worlds, with fantastic access to the stunning coastline and also to the moors. In fact, when it comes to moorland, you're spoilt for choice being sandwiched between Exmoor and Dartmoor. Both of these fantastic national parks provide wonderful spaces for all of the family to enjoy, each with its own distinctive landscapes.
If spending time at sea and on a remote island takes your fancy, then how about a quick trip to Lundy Island? Staying in a holiday cottage in North Devon means you’re perfectly placed for visiting Lundy, 12 miles off the coast. It’s a real must for wildlife enthusiasts and divers as Lundy’s waters are England’s only designated Marine Nature Reserve. But even if you just fancy a sea faring day trip and a brisk walk, you’re more than likely to spot seals, seabirds and a range of other wildlife. There is a regular ferry service from Ilfracombe harbour between April and October, and in winter you can catch a helicopter from Hartland Point.
If you’re staying in one of our Devon holiday cottages near to Hartland Point, this rocky outcrop is worth a look. It actually marks the point where the Bristol Channel ends and the Atlantic Ocean begins. Take a walk to it on the South West Coast Path which hugs the edge of the cliffs so you’re guaranteed spectacular views.
Close to Hartland Point is the picturesque old fishing village of Clovelly. With its steep cobbled streets and listed buildings, vehicle access is very restricted, but there is a car park and taxi service. However, it’s worth noting that those with limited mobility will struggle here. To get an idea of how steep the gradient of the village is, deliveries to the main street are made on sledges!
The tiny village of Welcombe is fantastically placed for your North Devon holiday, midway between Bideford and Bude. It has a pottery, pub and village store, but it’s also worth the walk down to Welcombe Mouth to see the modest but striking waterfall.
Hatherleigh is a traditional farming town just north of Dartmoor. It has a weekly livestock market, 3 pubs and a selection of small shops. If you’re taking an autumn break in Devon, pop along to Hatherleigh Carnival which is held every November and is famous for its blazing tar barrels.
Heading onto Dartmoor from the north you can take the main route towards Tavistock, where you might enjoy a stop off for a walk at Lydford Gorge to see the 30m high waterfall. Whilst most of Dartmoor is open access, meaning you are free to roam, there are areas in the north which the MOD use for live firing practice, so look out for warnings and please check firing times before straying too far!
If you take the road from North Devon towards Moretonhampstead down through the Teign Valley, it’s worth making a detour to browse the antiques shops of Chagford. But to get a true taste of Dartmoor’s history visit Postbridge and walk across the intact clapper bridge which dates back to the 12thcentury. There’s also a Dartmoor National Park information centre here to help you plan your visit.
You can delve even further back in time to prehistory with a visit to Merrivale. There is a pleasant pub here, and further up the hill you can take the short walk to see a number of Bronze Age monuments including long parallel stone rows, a stone circle and an impressive standing stone.
Dartmoor is perfect for dog friendly holidays, keen walkers, cyclists and climbers, however, it really is accessible even for those who want to take things a little easier. There are plenty of parking spots within the moors, allowing you to simply enjoy the view, or you can spend time in some of the quaint little moorland villages where we advise sampling a Devon cream tea!
The thriving, historic port of Bideford is situated on the picturesque Torridge estuary, famed for its lovely old bridge, and the pretty countryside that surrounds the town. Bideford is also well-known for its steep coastline that levels out onto some of the finest blue flag sandy beaches in the country, including Saunton Sands and Croyde, and the vast 3-mile sandy beach at Woolacombe beyond.
The town itself boasts a wide range of shops, amenities, pubs and restaurants to cater for the needs of visitors of all ages, whilst there are several charming villages nearby that are worth visiting, including Appledore, Instow and Clovelly. Another local highlight, popular among walkers and cyclists, is the Tarka Trail, one of the country's longest continuous traffic-free paths which winds its way through the beautiful, unspoilt North Devon countryside.
Rural High Hampton is well-positioned for exploring the most picturesque North Devon countryside, rugged Dartmoor, and the stunning North Cornish Atlantic coastline.
Nestled in the most tranquil countryside in the little-known area between North Devon and Dartmoor, this is old farming country: beautiful, hilly and wooded with unusual hilltop villages and towns complete with excellent, unpretentious pubs and individual, unique shops offering quality goods.
Visit nearby Okehampton to access the vast rugged moors on foot or bike, and a trip to Lydford Gorge is also a must, to witness its spectacular Whitelady waterfall.
Ilfracombe is well-positioned for exploring beautiful Exmoor and the spectacular north Devon coastline.
The town has long been established as a seaside resort, and its famous Tunnels Beaches date back to Victorian times when tunnels were excavated down to a number of coves where sea pools were created. You can still walk the tunnels and have a dip in the sea pool on the ladies’ beach. The gentlemen’s beach sea pool has long since fallen foul of persistent crashing waves. Visitors will be pleased to know that the strict Victorian rules on segregated bathing were finally lifted in 1905!
lfracombe itself offers an excellent selection of independent shops, cafes, galleries, restaurants, and a good smattering of Victorian architecture to admire too.
North Dartmooor provides an excellent base for exploring the moor and Devon's northern coastline too.
Belstone, a village steeped in folklore boasts a dramatic 'Tor' which rises up to a dizzying 1500ft. There are a number of Bronze Age remains within the parish. The most notorious is the Nine Maidens stone circle, named after a group of young women said to have been turned to stone as punishment for dancing on a Sunday. Confusingly, the stones are also known as the Seventeen Brothers, who allegedly suffered the same fate. Either way, the stones are said to “dance” at noon every day, so it’s worth a look to see if you can spot them swaying!
The town of Chagford is also well worth a visit for the numerous arts and crafts shops, homely cafes and pubs and legendary hardware store (yes, you read that correctly).
Nearby is Cheriton Bishop. A quaint little village situated on the eastern edge of Dartmoor allowing complete immersion in the wild whilst being only 10 miles from the thriving city of Exeter, with its excellent shopping, historic architecture and great art scene.
With over 600 miles of footpaths and bridleways, visitors to Exmoor can explore throughs woodland, along cliff-tops and over heather moorland, making it easy to keep active during your stay in a cottage near Exmoor. It’s a fantastic area if you’re looking for a dog-friendly holiday, and visitors can keep an eye out for the Exmoor ponies and our largest wild land mammals, the red deer.
Exmoor National Park also boasts 37 miles of coastline including the highest sea cliff in England and Wales; rising 800ft above the water, Great Hangman near Combe Martin is a record breaker and worth a visit if you’re staying in one of our north coast holiday cottages at Berrynarbor or Ilfracombe. You may also enjoy a visit to nearby Lynton and Lynmouth, two picturesque towns seemingly stacked on top of each other and connected by a steep cliff railway that dates back to the late 1800s.
A dog friendly waterside pub with wonderful estuary and sea views serving local fish, along with other excellent locally sourced food and a choice of wines, beers and real ales. Dine on the terrace or in the bar or dining room and watch the fishing boats come in on the top of the tide, bringing home the catch of the day.
Beaver Inn, Irsha St, Appledore, Bideford EX39 1RY (T: 01237 474822)
A relaxed and social environment to enjoy a coffee, glass of wine or beer, or light meal during the day, and in the evening an extensive range of delicious tapas and sophisticated cocktails. Regular live music including jazz, blues, acoustic sets and DJ’s adds to the great atmosphere.
Lilicos Tapas Lounge & Bar, 3 The Square, Town Centre, Barnstaple EX32 8LW (T: 01271 372933)
Housed in an old station building overlooking the River Taw and The Tarka Trail, this is a great spot to stop off for a bite to eat whilst walking or cycling the trail which runs past the door. This friendly, family run café serves wholesome breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas including cream teas and a large selection of home-made cakes.
Fremington Quay Café Fremington, Barnstaple EX31 2NH (T: 01271 268720)
Visit this award winning restaurant for delicious food full of big flavours in stylish surroundings. The creative menus champion organic, fair trade and local produce, and there is plenty of choice for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike. Outside wander around the hotel’s hillside garden dotted with over 300 sculptures for a truly memorable evening.
Terra Madre Restaurant Broomhill Art Hotel, Barnstaple EX31 4EX (T: 01271 850262)
Situated in a wild and beautiful bay with wonderful sea views, this family run pub and hotel was once the old customs buildings for the quay. Today the Wreckers Bar is a great place to enjoy a good pub lunch including excellent local fish, accompanied by a pint of local ale or cider. A good spot for refreshments after a day walking the South West Coast Path, or spent enjoying the pretty beach below.
Hartland Quay Hotel Hartland, Bideford EX39 6DU (T: 01237 441218)