I am a North Devon girl, born and bred.
Being a nanny and fairly new to Kent, I have spent many hours trawling the net for summer holiday activities in this area. I have subsequently enjoyed many days out exploring the southeast with the children, discovering beaches and parks and attractions, as well as indoor play centres, aquariums and museums.
I am having such fun discovering new places in the southeast, as I grew up in the southwest of England. Both sides of the south are beautiful in different ways. Being a tourist to one and local to the other, I am keen to share my best spots of North Devon. There are still two weeks of the summer holidays left; we mustn’t leave a stone unturned of the beautiful south!
Top 5 Outdoor Trips in North Devon
This was my favourite attraction when I was growing up, with its beautiful gardens, dark dungeon, light shows, rides and play areas and buried treasures. There’s Gnome Land with the tilting house, water gardens to play in and a marvellous maze. It’s no wonder I had a magical time at Watermouth Castle as a child, wanting to go back again and again each summer.
Living in the town of Barnstaple, I remember the excitement of the double decker bus ride to Bideford, picnics and ice-creams and learning to ride bikes on the mass of lawn at Victoria Park. When I was growing up there were two play areas, although I believe there may be just one now. The fort is still there, surrounded by real cannons, but my favourite thing about Bideford Park was the open air paddling pool. A lovely place to spend a sunny day.
This central park was just minutes from where I lived as a child and was a fantastic place to ride bikes or walk the dogs, with its path circling the expanse of green grass –plenty of space for ball games. As well as having a fenced play area, the park is surrounded by the River Yeo so why not take some bread crumbs down and feed the ducks?
Another fairly central park, just off Barnstaple Square. Much larger than Pilton Park, Rock Park lies along the River Taw. There is a large play area in the middle of the picturesque grounds along with vast amounts of grass to burn off energy. There is also a basket ball hoop as well as a skate park.
The best beaches in North Devon lie along the coastline north of the River Torridge, namely Saunton, Croyde and Woolacombe. These beautiful beaches each offer something different. Starting with secluded Saunton which lies off the main cliff top road, with only the large white hotel and a few scattered houses nearby, this beach offers its own café and shop. Moving on to Croyde, you have a lovely beach village with a mixture of tea shops and thatched surfy pubs. Finally, there is the larger village of Woolacombe; a buzzy beach town with much more going on, from hilly streets with fish and chip shops to live bands and crazy golf.
As to which beach has the best surf, I won’t get into that debate!
4. Bike ride Tarka Trail
“Over 30 miles of the Tarka Trail is available to cyclists between Braunton and Meeth, using the old railways of North Devon. Passing through the largely unspoilt countryside as it was described by Henry Williamson in his classic novel ‘Tarka the Otter’ first published in 1927” http://www.devon.gov.uk/tarkatrail/ accessed 21.08.12
Why not go for a bike ride along the Tarka Trail? No need to brave the whole 30 miles, just choose a short section and even stop off at the impressive Braunton Inn along the way.
5. Trip to Exeter
It’s easy to take the train from Barnstaple’s single-platform station to have a day out in Devon’s big city. Enjoy shopping, lunch in the stunning but reasonably priced Imperial or even laze around the cathedral green in the sunshine.
It’s funny how being away makes you appreciate a place more. While I uncover the rest of what the southeast has to offer, you can discover my deep fondness for the West Country.