North Devon

all you need to know

A holiday in North Devon offers the best of both worlds: fantastic access to the stunning Atlantic coastline and proximity to the wild beauty of the moors. Sandwiched between Exmoor and Dartmoor, each with its own distinctive picturesque landscape, they offer the perfect escape for nature lovers, walkers, riders, families and dog owners looking to unwind far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

About North Devon

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. 

High Hampton

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 Dartmoor

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.

Bideford Bicycle & Kayak Hire

Just a few miles from the beach in North Devon’s Tarka country, Bideford Bicycle, Surf Board and Kayak Hire does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, meaning they have everything you need to really get out and enjoy the area.  They are open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm, so pop in and find the right pieces of kit for you!

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Woolacombe Riding Stables

Nestled into Woolacombe valley, Woolacombe Riding Stables is a Pony Club approved equestrian centre in North Devon offering adults and children of all levels of experience the chance to enjoy horse riding in this beautiful part of the world.  Head out on across the sand dunes or around 200 acres of countryside, or have a lesson in the comfort of the school.

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Active Escape

A dedicated outdoor activities company in North Devon, Active Escape offers a range of experiences that are ideal for groups or families, including rafting, coasteering, surf rafting and SUP.  They cater to hen and stag parties as well as individual activities and courses and you can hire all the kit while you’re there as well.

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Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park

In 28 acres of sub tropical gardens in North Devon, the Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park us a family run business that surrounds you with natural beauty, gorgeous animals, dinosaurs and lots of fun and games.  There’s a Dino Express Train Ride, a tropical house, Bug World and Tomb of the Pharaohs as well as talks and shows to enjoy.

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Croyde Surf Academy

There can be few North Devon experiences as magical as pottering along the coast on a stand-up paddle board (SUP), and at Croyde Surf Academy it’s an area they specialise in.  Offering guided tours and intro days, as well as instruction in other areas of surfing and coasteering, the team is passionate and friendly, eager to introduce you to this happy, healthy way of exploring Devon whether you’re a beginner or a pro looking for a guide.

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The Beaver Inn

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)


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Lilicos Tapas Lounge & Bar

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)

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Fremington Quay Café

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)

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Terra Madre Restaurant

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)

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Hartland Quay Hotel

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)

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Croyde Beach

Very popular with swimmers and more experienced surfers, and of course sunbathers in the summer months, Croyde Bay is rated as one of the best surfing beaches in the world.  Lifeguards operate from May to September for peace of mind, and there are beautiful rock pools at either end of the beach.  Dogs are allowed on the beach although there are restrictions in summer months, and toilets are close by.  The beach is popular with swimmers, and you can hire equipment for activities such as surfing, fishing and canoeing close by. Restaurants are within easy reach, and you access the beach via a slipway and beach car park with disabled parking, so it’s an extremely welcoming beach for all visitors.

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Saunton Sands

A long straight sandy beach backed by the Braunton Burrows, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Saunton Sands Beach is popular with surfers and families alike thanks to the long stretch of tantalizing water.  Suited to beginners and intermediate surfers, the waters are comparatively gentle (although obviously you should always be careful), and it is famed for having featured in Robbie Williams’ Angels music video.  Restaurants, cafes, shops and toilets are all within easy reach of the beach, dogs are permitted all year round, and it is the only beach in North Devon to have a Landeez all terrain wheelchair so that everyone can have full enjoyment of it.

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Combe Martin

Next to the North Devon town of Combe Martin, at the western edge of the Exmoor National Park, is a pretty sandy beach peppered with rock pools.  Enjoying easy access and facilities close by, the beach is popular and has won awards for its high quality.  The beach is also good for families due to the vast stretch of sand and rock pools that will keep children entertained for hours, dogs are not allowed on the beach from May to September and there are cafes and restaurants close by.  It boasts some of the finest scenery and includes the reputedly highest cliffs in England, the gentle currents make the water perfect for swimming.  There is a large car park above Combe Martin beach, a small car park to the north of the beach, and toilets by the main car park.

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Hartland Quay Beach

Hartland Quay is primarily a pebbles and rocks beach but low tide exposes sand and interesting rock pools to explore. It is splendidly isolated with no facilities but that's part of the charm. Car parking is available at Hartland Quay Hotel & Pub, EX39 6DU 

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