The small, historic port town of Bideford is situated on the estuary of the River Torridge, famed for its lovely old bridge that links the town to its neighbouring village, and the beautiful countryside and coastline that lies within a stone's throw of the town. Bideford is also well-known for its steep coastline that levels out into some of the finest blue flag sandy beaches in the country.
This thriving market town and busy port 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.
Bideford itself is renowned for its New Year's Eve celebrations, where visitors and locals alike don extravagant fancy dress costumes and head to one of the many Inns on the quayside to see in the New Year. The town is close to the start of the Tarka Trail, popular among walkers and cyclists, which winds its way through the unspoilt North Devon countryside.
If you fancy a day out during your stay, nearby attractions include the Northam Burrows Country Park, the Big Sheep Theme Park, and RHS Garden Rosemoor, and of course there are some stunning beaches including Westward Ho! and Saunton Sands.
A holiday cottage in Bideford offers a great base for exploring the picturesque Torridge Estuary and this special part of the North Devon coastline.
A beautiful Georgian house dating back to 1753, Lawrence House is leased to Launceston Town as a local museum and civic centre, spread over three floors, with exhibits focusing on local history and the area’s links with Australia. When you visit you can learn about Philip Gidley King who sailed on the HMS Sirius, which accompanied the first fleet of convicts to Australia, see a display of costumes that date from the 18th century to the 1960s, discover the Victorian kitchen and let the kids play in the toy room. Opening times are limited so make sure you keep an eye on the website for further information.
For a fantastic, fun, all-weather family day out, Trethorne Leisure Park is sure to tick all your boxes. Comprising of a large indoor play area, perfect for rainy days, with a dropslide, ballparks, trampolines, climbing wall, assault course and much more, as well as outdoor space with crazy golf, paddle boats, slides, swings, sandpit and an adventure climbing frame. There's also an animal barn with ponies to ride, a cow to milk, and guinea pigs and rabbits to cuddle.
If you're looking for even more family entertainment afterwards, you'll find 8 lanes of ten pin bowling, a dodgems rink, and a games arcade right next door!
A light and bright deli and café where you can relax and enjoy the flavours of the West Country. Serves breakfasts, lunches and snacks using local seasonal produce all freshly prepared to order, along with delicious cakes, coffees and cream teas. Also open for early suppers accompanied by an extensive range of handpicked wines, beers and ciders.
John’s of Instow Marine Parade, Instow EX39 4HY (T: 01271 860310)
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 13th century thatched village inn with a wealth of old world charm including oak beams, cob walls and open fires. On the menu you will find an excellent range of home cooked dishes including traditional Devon recipes and delicious desserts, and at the bar several interesting local ales and an extensive wine list.
The Bell Inn Rectory Ln, Parkham, Bideford EX39 5PL (T: 01237 451201)
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)
Less the five minutes on foot from the centre of Bude, Summerleaze Beach is an easy beach to get to and enjoy for the whole day. There’s a river flanking the sandy beach and it’s sheltered by a breakwater, making it popular with families and surfers. You can book beach huts daily or weekly, and adding to its charm is a part man-made/part natural salt water sea pool to swim in at the foot of the cliff, that’s been welcoming swimmers since it opened in 1930. There’s lifeguard cover in the summer months, dogs need to be kept on leads from May to September, and there are toilets and disabled toilets close by as well as an RNLI shop, sandy play area, a beach café, and a large car park that leads directly to the sand dunes.
Three miles south of Bude, Widemouth Bay Beach is a long, open bay that’s popular with families and surfers, while at low tide there are hundreds of rock pools to explore. It’s a wonderful place to learn to surf or body board thanks to fantastic conditions and lots of local surf schools in the surrounding area. There’s free parking at both ends of the bay as well as viewing points. Dogs are welcome throughout the year on the south section of the beach, otherwise known as Black Rock, but on the northern part there are seasonal dog bans. It has a wild feel to it, which adds to its appeal, and there is lifeguard cover in the summer, but nonetheless do be careful when swimming.
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Lovely clean beach.
At the end of a narrow valley, surrounded by towering cliffs, backing into the village of Crackington, Crackington Haven Beach offers shelter from the elements but only by comparison to the exposed coastline. The beach is all rocks and shingle, and has a seasonal ban on dogs from Easter to October. There’s parking at the beach, so remember to take cash for pay and display, and there are two cafes, a pub, surf hire and toilet facilities close by. There’s also lifeguard cover in the height of summer.