Kingsley’s ‘Westward Ho!’, Tennyson’s ‘Revenge’, and Williamson’s ‘Tarka The Otter’ all immortalise the North Devon Coast, but what is it about this scenic part of the South West that appealed to these authors, and continues to attract visitors to the North Devon Coast?
Part of its appeal could lie in the North Devon Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which runs from Marsland Mouth to Combe Martin. A coastal landscape, which is also part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, it has many attractions for visitors, including some superb beaches. Check out the beaches at Westward Ho!, Saunton, Croyde, and Woolacombe, for surfing and other watersports. For families there is also Watermouth Castle and Theme Park and the Milky Way Adventure Park near Clovelly which are well worth a visit.
The fishing village of Clovelly, is itself a tourist attraction. Privately owned, it charges an entrance fee to those wanting to visit and stay in the town, to help preserve its traditional charm. Within its boundaries is a museum dedicated to ‘Water Babies’ author Charles Kingsley, along with a host of shops, several hotels, and craft outlets.
Aside from the towns, villages, and beaches, this area is also a great base for walkers and cyclists. The South West Coast Path and National Cycle routes all run through the North Devon area, as does the Tarka Trail. This a route using old railway lines, taking in all the places that inspired the ‘Tarka The Otter’ story. It also forms part of the Coast to Coast Cycle route between Ilfracombe and Plymouth, and the West Country Way Cycle Route.
Natural history often gives way to built heritage in North Devon, and there is much to explore. The historic town of Bideford for example, has elements of both an old market town, and working port. A Pannier Market which dates back to 1883 and old merchants houses are both focal points for visitors to the town. There’s also the market town of Barnstaple, which claims to be the ‘oldest borough in the UK’. It combines heritage attractions such as the North Devon and Barnstaple Museum, with a range of high fashion and local specialist shops.
North Devon also has its own set of twins, in the shape of the twin towns of Lynton and Lynmouth. The two towns are joined by a Cliffside Funicular or cable railway line, and between them have a history of trade in the sheep and herring industries. Visitors here can find out about the famous Lynmouth Flood of 1952, explore the pretty harbour, visit both towns’ local shops, or visit the nearby Exmoor National Park. Ilfracombe is another ‘must see destination’, and you can find out more about the town on this site.
This is just an overview of the main attractions in North Devon, but there are plenty of other things to see and do, especially if you like the outdoors. North Devon isn’t just a place for walkers, swimmers, horse riders, or surfers though. It’s a place full of attractions for everyone.