Activities & Things to do Nearby
The National Trust and North Devon
A favourite setting for writers and artists is the wonderful Heddon Valley located on the western edge of the Exmoor National Trust. From the magical wooded valleys to the rugged coastline at Heddon's Mouth beach, the area has something to offer all its visitors.
At the centre of the Heddon Valley is the Hunter's Inn public house, which is the perfect place to start or finish your day. Sit beside the roaring fire in the winter months whilst savouring one of the local ales, or relax in the beautiful gardens on a summer afternoon enjoying a traditional cream tea. A small National Trust gift shop can also be found beside the Hunter's Inn.
On the eastern tip of the Heddon Valley is Woody Bay, which can be reached via the well maintained South West Coast Path. This wooded cove has a historic cove and small beach, as well as magnificent views across the Bristol Channel.
Travel west from the Hunter's Inn either on foot or by car to reach the soaring cliffs above Combe Martin where the views of heather topped moorlands and the North Devon coastline are truly spectacular.
Once the home of the Chichester family, Arlington Court is an excellent example of a neoclassical country house. Donated to the National Trust in 1949 the 3,500 acre estate is now open to the public and offers its visitors horse drawn carriage rides, beautiful gardens and a classic Victorian tea room.
As well as being able to wander the corridors of the house and walk the estate, visitors to Arlington Court can also see one of the largest carriage collections in the country, with more than 50 horse-drawn carriages on view and get up close to some of the shire horses that live onsite.
Throughout the year Arlington Court hosts many different events from an Easter egg hunt in the spring to a classic Christmas Fare, in December where you can try your hand at wreath building, or watch the children meet a traditional green clad Father Christmas.
Set within 2,000 acres of a beautiful wooded valley in Exmoor is Watersmeet. This historic river gorge is home to a rich variety of wildlife, including North Devon's red deer.
At the heart of Watersmeet is the meeting point of the East Lyn River and Hoar Oak Water. Located beside the rivers is a lovely tea room with a garden and a National Trust shop.
From Watersmeet there are excellent opportunities to explore the area on foot with footpaths heading down river towards Lynmouth and the sea, as well as up river to Brendon Common and the Exmoor National Park.
Overlooking the golden beach at Croyde is Baggy Point, a dramatic headland with breathtaking views of the coastline. Set along the South West Coast Path the point is an excellent place for enjoying a brisk walk. Climbing, surfing and coasteering are also available.
The beauty of Hartland was the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling, and, with its rugged cliffs, enchanted woodlands and secluded valleys, it is easy to see why. This magical setting in North Devon is well worth a visit for seeing the county's unspoilt scenery.
Surrounding Hartland are the villages of Clovelly and Westward Ho!, as well as Peppercombe Valley, which is home to a range of flora and fauna.
North Devon Fun for all Attractions
The Big Sheep
No matter what your age, The Big Sheep on the outskirts of Bideford is guaranteed to make you smile. Watch the sheep with their unusual jockeys race their own version of the Grand National, or admire the skills of the border collies as they attempt to round up the misbehaving ducks.
Pony rides, sheep shearing, horse whispering and bottle feeding newborn lambs are all also available onsite. If you would prefer something a little more relaxed why not take part in one of the farm safaris or visit the on-site brewery.
Next door to the Big Sheep is the Battlefield, a site where you can have a hi-tech laser gun battle, as well as the Ultimate Adventure Centre with high ropes, zip wires and mountain boarding.
Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park
Less than a 10 minute drive from Yetland Farm is the Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park where the animals that time forgot meet today's wonderful creatures. The family friendly park is home to an array of wildlife, including exotic birds, sea lions, meerkats and lions.
Hidden around the park are some of the realistic life-size dinosaur models. Get up close to the 18ft high T-Rex or have your photo taken with one of the deadly velociraptors. The onsite museum also houses one of the world's largest nests of genuine dinosaur eggs.
The award-winning Exmoor Zoo has increased its popularity over the past few years, and won a reputation for being personal and friendly. Residing at the zoo is a pair of black leopards, fondly nicknamed as the Exmoor Beasts, as well as 175 other breeds of animals.
Forever changing, the zoo specialises in providing a home to many smaller animals rarely seen in larger zoos, as well as providing exhibitions of pumas, reindeer and wolves. Some of the latest arrivals include sand cats and jaguarandi.
Let's Go Bowling and Skating
Stuck for activities when the weather is a little wet? Why not head to Let's Go in Barnstaple, a well-equipped bowling alley with onsite skating rink, laser tag, karaoke and games arcade.
Explore what lurks beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean at Ilfracombe Aquarium, a family friendly attraction set alongside the Victorian town's harbour. With more than 75 species of fish living at the Aquarium you will get to learn more about what lives in an Exmoor river, a local rock pool and around the North Devon coastline.
The Victorian castle at Watermouth on the edge of Combe Martin is a guaranteed fun filled family day out. Surrounding the castle is a small child friendly theme park with a range of rides, a maze, a gnome village and a water play area. There are also beautiful gardens to explore.
The Milky Way has been voted as North Devon's top day out with the kids for the past three years. No matter what time of year you visit, it promises to provide a fun day out.
The park has five major rides, a large indoor play area and plenty of outdoor activities, including archery and laser target shooting. There is even a massive bouncing pillow.
Quince Honey Farm
There is nowhere in the world where you can see the life of bee like at Quince Honey Farm in South Molton. This large indoor apiary is home to Beeworld where interactive buttons let you see the workings of the hive in wonderful detail without the need for protective clothing.
Finish your trip to the farm with a traditional cream tea in the café where you can also try some of the home-made honeycomb ice-cream. You can also purchase the honey and other products in the gift shop.
Explore the history of one of Britain's most well-known glass creators at Dartington Crystal near Torrington, and admire the skills of the workers as they create beautiful vases and other products to be sold around the world.
If you fancy having a go yourself then glass blowing workshops are available, as well as lessons in glass painting and jewellery design. You can even take home your own souvenir by having your hand cast in glass.
Please note it is worth contacting Dartington Crystal in advance on 01805 626 242 if you wish to take part in one of the onsite activities.
Lynton and Barnstaple Railway
On the edge of Exmoor is the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, a picturesque station offering a glimpse into the past. Currently spanning two miles, the ride offers wonderful views of the local scenery, including Exmoor and the North Devon coastline.
The steam engine provides a half hour journey from Woody Bay Station through wonderful open fields. Finish the train ride with a snack at the traditional tea rooms, or purchase a souvenir from the gift shop.
North Devon Fishing and Boat Trips
Established more than 30 years ago, Blakewell Fisheries on the edge of Barnstaple is Devon's number one fly fishing venue. The fish farm offers lovers of this relaxing pastime the opportunity to fish for trout at its large natural lake, which is fed by an Exmoor stream.
The fishing lake at Newberry in Combe Martin gives both beginners and experienced fishermen the chance to test their skills at coarse fishing. Stocked with carp, tench, roach, rudd and perch, the lake is the perfect place to enjoy the peace and quiet of the surrounding valley.
Several boats depart Ilfracombe harbour in the summer season and are a great way to see the North Devon coastline from a whole new angle. Search for seals and dolphins on a sea safari or relax on board one of the Ilfracombe Princess Cruises.
The MS Oldenburg offers boat trips to Lundy Island, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Marine Nature Reserve. Lasting just under two hours the trip lets guests sit back and admire the views that on occasion include pods of dolphins that play alongside the ship. The boat is also available for private charters. An alternative way to visit Lundy Island is via helicopter.
Other boat trips available from Ilfracombe provide the opportunity to experience a spot of sea fishing in the waters off the North Devon coastline.
Cycling Around North Devon
North Devon's Tarka Trail is an excellent way to see the local scenery by bike. With more than 30 miles of well maintained pathways suitable for all levels of cyclists, the Tarka Trail offers its visitors the chance to see unspoilt countryside that was once the inspiration for Henry Williamson's classic novel Tarka the Otter.
The largely traffic free Tarka Trail begins in Braunton and travels alongside the river Taw on its way to Barnstaple before continuing on to Bideford, Torrington and Meeth. Most of the trail uses North Devon's old railway lines and is therefore fairly level and suitable for all bikes, which can be hired at various shops along the route.
For the more adventurous cyclist, head to the Exmoor National Park, where the steep hills and winding country roads have been used for the Tour of Britain.
Playing a Round of Golf in North Devon
North Devon has a wealth of golf courses that offer the chance to enjoy a round of golf surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Tee-off at the championship course at Saunton where the views of the ocean are spectacular, or admire the beauty of the Northam Burrows on the Royal North Devon Golf Course, reputed to be the oldest links course in the country.
Other nearby courses include Ilfracombe, Highbullen, Portmore and Willingcott, which can all easily be accessed from the cottages at Yetland Farm.
North Devon Adventure Attractions
Skern Lodge Outdoor Activity Centre
A good range of both land and water based activities are available at Skern Lodge near Bideford. Looking to get wet? Why not join in with the kayaking, rafting or surfing, or, for something a little more thrilling, try one of the power boat rides or quay jumping. If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land then take part in some of the abseiling, climbing or assault courses that are on offer.
Rock and Rapid Adventure Centre
Specialising in outdoor activities tailored to meet your needs and desires is the Rock and Rapid Adventure Centre in South Molton. With years of expertise the coaches at Rock and Rapid can cater for everyone, including groups and families.
The centre offers a wide range of activities to challenge and motivate. Choose from climbing, abseiling, kayaking, canoeing and coasteering.
There is something for everyone at Keypitts near Ilfracombe. This pretty North Devon farm offers fun for all the family activities that are guaranteed to get you muddy. Race across fields on a quad bike or enjoy a thrilling 4x4 off road experience.
North Devon's Beaches and Water Sports
The sandy beach at Combe Martin is easily accessed and within walking distance of the village shops and restaurants. The beach is well-known for its rock pools, as well as its summer sunsets.
The family friendly beach offers fishing, kayaking and swimming in a lovely clean and safe environment.
Created in the 1820's by the Victorians, the Tunnels in Ilfracombe offer a wonderfully unique beach reached via four hand-carved tunnels. As well as a sandy beach there is a tidal bathing pool, children's soft play area and an excellent café.
Inflatables can be used safely at the Tunnels and children can happily play in the shallows. The rock pools here were also voted some of the best in the country.
The award-winning Woolacombe beach is famous for its clean waters and beautiful golden sands that draw beach lovers year after year. Soak up the sun on the miles of soft, fine sand, relax and enjoy a picnic in the dunes or play with friends in the rock pools.
Located less than a 15 minute drive from Yetland Farm, Woolacombe is definitely a beach worth visiting. Activities available at the beach include surfing, kayaking and sailing, with many lessons available in the water-based sports for beginners.
Once used as the backdrop for Robbie Williams' Angels, Saunton Sands is a breath-taking golden beach that welcomes dogs all year round. The three miles of sands are backed by Braunton Burrows, a unique formation of sand dunes, which are recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Saunton Sands is a great beach for novice surfers with smaller waves compared to those at nearby Croyde. Wind-surfing is also popular on the beach.
Named after Charles Kingsley's novel, Westward Ho! is a lovely blue flag sandy beach sheltered by a pebble ridge. Ideal for surfing, swimming and kite sports, Westward Ho! has something for everyone. End your day on the beach with a meal at one of the restaurants that enjoy views of the ocean, including The Pier and Tea on the Green.
Located on the estuary of the River Torridge, and opposite the pretty seaside village of Appledore, is Instow, a quiet and relaxing setting perfect for small families and couples.
The sand and shingle beach at Instow is ideal for paddling with small waves gently lapping against it. When not on the beach, watch the world go by from the promenade or enjoy a drink in one of the quaint pubs that line the street.
Nestled between Woolacombe and Saunton Sands, Croyde beach is a haven for water sport enthusiasts. Surfing, kite-surfing and kayaking are just a few of the water based activities available at the beach. There are also volley ball nets and football goal posts on the beach every day of the year.
Horse Riding in North Devon
There are several excellent horse riding stables in the local area surrounding Yetland Farm. The BHS approved Dean Riding Stables is less than a 20 minute drive and offers both escorted rides across Exmoor, as well as one-to-one lessons for all ages and abilities.
A little further afield is Roylands in Croyde, which provide short treks for first time riders, and hacks through woods and across sand dunes for those with a little more experience. To enjoy a memorable beach ride over miles of golden sands visit the Woolacombe Riding Stables.
Walks around North Devon
With the beauty of the coastline it is easy to see why so many walkers return year after year to North Devon, and, with the South West Coast Path only a few minutes' drive from Yetland Farm, there is an abundance of stunning walks right on your doorstep.
Admire the view from the tallest cliffs in Britain as you climb to the top of Great Hangman in Combe Martin before descending the valley to Heddon's Mouth. Walk amongst the scarlet fuchsias as you discover Lee Bay at the foot of the Fuchsia Valley or skim stones at Hartland.
Other nearby walks include those on Exmoor, where trails lead to Tarr Steps and Dunkery Beacon.
Some popular walks to enjoy in and around Combe Martin include:
- Holdstone Down = A reasonably easy 2.3 mile walk through ancient settlements and rugged landscapes. Look out for signs of an extra-terrestrial nature that the area is known for. Finish the day with a cream tea in one of Combe Martin's traditional tea rooms or with takeout fish and chips.
- Trentishoe Down = A light 2.4 mile walk over moors and through woods where the views across the Bristol Channel are breathtaking. Look out for the red deer that can often be seen grazing amongst the heather.
- Heddon's Mouth = Begin and end your walk at the dog friendly Hunter's Inn and enjoy a gentle 2 mile walk along a small stream on your way to a beautiful shingle beach with a history amongst the local smugglers. It's perfect for a walk for a Sunday afternoon or with young children.
- Little Hangman = The 1.4 mile walk up Little Hangman provides the perfect opportunity to witness the spectacular coastline. Pass by the hill fort at Hillsborough and learn more about the smuggling, ship wrecks and fist fights that occurred in the area. A great walk for dog owners with a dog friendly beach and pub along the way.
- Great Hangman = A more challenging 5 mile walk up valleys and along cliffs to reach the top of Britain's highest cliffs. The views from the top make this walk extremely rewarding, especially if you love photography. Make the most of your walk by taking a freshly prepared picnic from Sunfish Cuisine in Ilfracombe, which uses local seafood and meat.
Local Parks and Leisure Centres in North Devon
The beautiful Bicclescombe Park in Ilfracombe is a wonderful place to spend a summer afternoon. This traditional park has a children's play area where the little ones can be entertained, as well as nature strolls, pretty Victorian style flower beds and seven tennis courts. A recent addition to the park is a sensory garden.
Rock Park in Barnstaple is equipped with a skate-park and adventure play area featuring swings, slides, climbing frames and a sandpit. There is also a bowling green, tennis courts and sports ground.
North Devon Leisure Centre and Ilfracombe Swimming Pool
The North Devon Leisure Centre in Barnstaple is equipped to a high standard with championship style swimming pools and springboards. There is also a learner pool and indoor soft play area.
In Ilfracombe there is a traditional 25m swimming pool, which is available for both public and private swimming.
Tarka Tennis Centre
Situated just a short walk away from the North Devon Leisure Centre in Barnstaple is the Tarka Tennis Centre. As a host venue for one of the AEGON GB pro-series tournaments, the centre is home to six champion standard indoor courts and four superb outdoor courts.
Gardens to visit in North Devon
Set within 65 acres of a beautiful valley near Torrington is RHS Rosemoor. With its colourful array of flowers on display and an excellent programme of events, including activities for all ages, Rosemoor is a wonderful place to spend a day with friends and family.
Art and culture combine at Broomhill Sculpture Gardens near Barnstaple. This magical garden is situated in a wooded valley and houses one of the largest collections of contemporary art and sculptures. Open all year round it is a fascinating place to visit.
Finish your visit with a meal in the award-wining Terra Madre Restaurant.