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Excursions and Days Out


Where to start? The beaches?

Great surfing at Westward Ho, Saunton, Croyde, Putsborough and Woolacombe. Or nip down to Bude and the other North Cornwall surf meccas. 

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Anchor 1

You can check out local surf conditions and tide times for Saunton and other local beaches on All get crowded at peak times, so local tips - go early or late (before or after everyone else), OR go to Marine Drive, which runs all the way down the back of Woolacombe beach. This means you can escape the crowded town beach by driving further down the beach and accessing it through the dunes. You can do something similar at Westward Ho, where the car park extends the length of the beach - here you have to negotiate the famous pebble ridge to get to the sea.

In Woolacombe, the Red Barn draws a lively surf crowd, but the great draw is Barricane Beach (just outside Woolacombe on the way to Morthoe) which has a beach kiosk that sells Sri Lankan Curry most evenings on a first come first served basis. BYOB.

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Woolacombe also has a superb fine dining restaurant called NC (after chef Noel Corston) - just 8 covers for the tasting menu, so booking essential.

Croyde caters mainly for the hard core surf crowd, who congregate at The Thatch.

Image by Surfing Croyde Bay

Saunton is a bit more family oriented, with a cafe/shop/takeaway and beachside grill, all overlooked by Saunton Sands Hotel. Parking is by the hour (rather than day/half-day as elsewhere) so possibly better value for a short stay.


Braunton (en route to Saunton) is home to Squires Fish and Chips (regularly voted one of the best in Britain) and there's a great cafe called The Quay on the road to Crow Point. On the way back to Barnstaple, look out for the sign on the right to Chivenor Industrial Estate, where you will find the Waterside cafe, with great views over the Taw Estuary.

Instow beach is great for sunbathing - Instow (and Appledore, opposite) have branches of the superb John's Deli. Just outside Instow, on the entrance to the Sandhills car park, is the Glorious Oyster, selling sensational fresh seafood. The Boathouse has amazing views from its upstairs deck

Johns Deli
Glorious Oyster

Half way between Instow and Barnstaple, the old railway station at Fremington Quay has been converted into a cafe with great food and views, and a display about the local lime kiln industry. It's great for bird watching as well.

Arlington Court

Houses and Gardens

There are several National Trust properties within striking distance - alongside the houses, all have great walking in the grounds, and feature formal and/or walled gardens.

Arlington House



Hartland Abbey makes a good day out. Tom Hiddleston fans will want to follow the path to the sea where they will find the cottage he holed up in during `The Night Manager' - it was also used in `Sense and Sensibililty'.

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You can also visit the grounds of :

Tapeley Park (near Instow), and tour the house by appointment.

Castle Hill, Filleigh (near South Molton)

The RHS has gardens at Rosemoor (just outside Torrington) - they also have regular art exhibitions, and a venue staging concerts and plays.


Many local gardens also take part in the National Garden Scheme open gardens.

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