One of the best things about living in North Devon is the abundance of wonderful places right on the doorstep. From stunning beaches and coastal paths to beautiful gardens and fabulous heritage properties, North Devon’s got the lot!
One unique thing about Devon is that it is the only county in the UK with two coastlines. They are very different and, up here in North Devon, they are extremely varied. In a matter of just a few miles the coastline changes from the awe-inspiring reddish cliffs of Lynmouth to the huge expanse of sea, beach and sky at Westward Ho! Whatever your seaside pleasure, North Devon has the beach to cater for it.
The South West Coast Path fringes the north coast and offers superb hiking trails; and the Tarka Trail follows the Taw and Torridge estuaries. The stoutest walker must surely be challenged by ‘Little Switzerland’, as they call the area around Lynton and Lynmouth. (Here’s a tip: take the funicular railway up the cliff and save your breath to cool a cup of tea in one of the cafes at the top!)
The Valley of the Rocks, the long-dry river bed of the East Lyn river, is a very special place with dizzyingly high sea cliffs, incredible rock formations and heathland scrub but it is, perhaps, best loved and most famous for having its own herd of wild goats, some of whom swagger into Lynton for a browse – of the goat kind!
If you have youngsters with you, or are just a big kid yourself, there’s oodles of fun to be had at places like The Big Sheep, The Milky Way and Watermouth Castle.
Exmoor Zoo is a delight to visit but, for those of you who are interested in conservation, it’s also really heart-warming. The team stress the importance of respect for the animals and their environment and they work hard with other organisations to ensure healthy breeding programmes for endangered species. https://www.exmoorzoo.co.uk
Woolly Animals Alpaca Walking – for a very different day out, why not take an alpaca for a walk? There are llama, alpacas, pigs, goats, sheep, miniature Mediterranean donkeys, miniature Shetland ponies, pygmy goats and small animals for cuddling. We really do have it all in Devon! Alpaca Walking Devon (woolleyanimals.co.uk)
Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park – a few million years too late to take the dinosaurs for a walk but pop along anyway to this family-run park in Combe Martin set in 28 acres of gorgeous gardens. (The animals are real, by the way.) https://cmwdp.co.uk
Chambercombe Manor – a medieval manor house in remarkable original condition, with an extraordinary history. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book and, at one time, belonged to the family of poor, ill-fated Lady Jane Grey. Expect the paranormal at Chambercombe Manor, as it is said to be very haunted indeed …... https://chambercombemanor.org.uk
The Lynmouth and Barnstaple Railway is a little gem. This two-mile narrow-gauge railway is all that is left of the original line, which closed in 1935. Enjoy incredible views across Exmoor from a Victorian railway carriage (upgrade to First Class) and then visit the tea room. Just lovely. https://www.lynton-rail.co.uk
RHS Rosemoor is not to be missed! The gardens in this pretty valley are, as you might expect of the RHS, simply beautiful. Hot gardens; rose gardens; woodland gardens; there is too much to list here. See for yourself at https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor
Docton Mill and Tea Room – this is a garden with a difference! The mill, the leat, head weir and terrace have been traced back to before the Norman Conquest, so there is a thousand years of history here. Oh, and it has an award winning tea room. (Just saying.) http://www.doctonmill.co.uk
The simply beautiful Marwood Hill Gardens, covers 20 acres and was created by one inspired man in what was an old quarry. Dr Smart’s garden (as it used to be known here in North Devon) is also home to four national collections. Did we mention the tea room?! https://www.marwoodhillgarden.co.uk
The National Trust – if you are a member, you will know that the area is home to country houses such as Arlington Court and Knightshayes, as well as a great deal of beautiful open countryside.
Some of North Devon’s most prominent families have opened their homes to visitors too:
Castle Hill, home to the Earl and Countess of Arran. www.castlehilldevon.co.uk
Hartland Abbey, home to the Stucley family. www.hartlandabbey.com
Tapeley Park, home to the Christie family. https://www.christieestates.co.uk/tapeley-park/
And finally … if you are free on the first Wednesday of August, The North Devon Agricultural Show will be on at Umberleigh. You’ll bump into just about everyone you know at this delightful country show in the heart of beautiful North Devon.