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Things to do in North Devon

06/06/2014 by holidaysincroyde

Relaxing or surfing on the beach, walking footpaths, or cycling bridleways, browsing shops or drinking coffee in cafes, there is enough to do to fill a week long holiday in Croyde alone, but venture further out into North Devon and you will discover a world of places to visit and activities to entertain and thrill the whole family.

The combination of great beaches, stunning countryside and the sense of getting away from it all is what brings people back to us year after year. Part of our success at Holidays in Croyde is that all our properties are set up to cater for the outdoor lifestyle with provisions for storing all your gear, including ample space for bikes and wetsuits and racks for your surf boards.


It’s no great secret anymore… Croyde has some of the best waves to be found in the country and these days is a port of call for surfers from around the world as well as the UK.

As well as Croyde, North Devon offers a host of surfing opportunities at beaches up and down its coast. Around the corner there are the beach breaks of Putsborough Sands and Woolacombe. Putsborough is sheltered from the persistent south westerly winds, providing good clean waves when other beaches are blown out. Woolacombe produces waves for all abilities through all stages of the tide making it popular with all types of wave riding craft from surfers through to kayakers.

Find out more about Croyde surf

Walking and hiking

Holidays in Croyde properties are popular with walkers and hikers. There are plenty of walks, for all levels, right on our doorstep. We are fortunate that this part of the world takes in some spectacular walking country with a well maintained network of trails that take in the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in addition to the well established Tarka Trail and South West Coast path.

lynton valley of the rocks

Further afield, the untamed wilds of Exmoor provide plenty to explore, from rugged moorland to wooded valleys where fresh water streams run clear. Exmoor expands to the coast to take in the villages of Lynton and Lynmouth, connected by a Victorian water powered lift. Along the road from Lynton is the Valley of the Rocks. A spectacular area of coastline.


Cycling and Mountain Biking

Holidays in Croyde properties offer a great starting point for cycling – whether it’s road, mountain or a good old day out with the family.

North Devon is blessed with the Tarka Trail which runs the length of an old railway line, meaning 30 miles of straight and (mostly!) level cycling. You can join up with it at nearby Braunton and ride deep into the heart of Devon. The route offers great views of the rivers Taw and Torridge and beyond Bideford a glimpse of the countryside immortalized in Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter.

tarka trail cycling

Road cycling has become a popular activity along the roads of North Devon. Riders are attracted by the varied landscape and challenging rides that local routes such as the National Cycle Network offer, from the coast to the climbs of Exmoor. There are plenty of options for short circular rides, or long days spent pounding the miles!

Likewise, this area of North Devon is a fantastic destination for mountain bikers. The countryside is criss-crossed with trails and bridleways, offering varied landscape and options for taking the easy way… or the hard way! Just up the road is Keypitts Farm, home to North Devon Mountain Bike which has trails for all abilities.

One place that many cyclists on the Tarka Trail visit is Fremington Quay. Once a busy quayside and a station on the railway, Fremington Quay is now an ideal place for a visit or as a starting point for cycling on the Tarka Trail. There is a museum, cafe and cycle hire shop. It has been said the cafe serves the best cake in North Devon! From Fremington it is an easy cycle to Barnstaple in one direction or Instow in the other.

Fremington Quay


North Devon is a predominantly rural area so does not have a lot of the same shopping facilities as you find in larger, more populated towns and cities, but it does have a wealth of local gift, craft and food shops where you can spend a few hours browsing or treating yourself.

Nearby Braunton is only a 4 mile drive and has plenty of parking and a small village centre with a vibrant mix of shops as well as a museum and countryside centre. Braunton is also the starting point for cycling on the Tarka Trail and bike hire is available.

Barnstaple High Street

Barnstaple is the principle town in the region and has a mixture of high street brands and artisan shops and cafes as well as the Pannier Market, a Victorian building in the heart of the town which regularly hosts farmers markets, food festivals, antique fairs and regular markets.

Bideford is the second largest town. Known locally as ‘the little white town’ Bideford is well worth a visit. There are plenty of interesting shops tucked away along a maze of narrow lanes. Bideford has retained much of its character over the years, so much so that a few years back it was chosen as the location for the making of a film based during the Second World War.

Ilfracombe started life as a fishing village and still has a harbour and working fishermen today. There are a selection of restaurants offering fresh sea food menus. During the Victorian era, the town expanded into one of the regions most popular tourist locations. As foreign holidays became popular the town saw a decline in business, but over the last decade has started to re-emerge with the introduction of arts and crafts and artisan shops and cafes. There are still some traditional holiday activities such as amusement arcades, crazy golf and ice cream shops.

South Molton is a great place for shopping with lots of second-hand and antique shops if you are looking for something unique. South Molton also has an indoor market.

Lynton and Lynmouth in the north of the region is the place to go for art as there are many arts and crafts shops tucked away down intriguing lanes and plenty of cafes to stop and refresh.

Kids and Family days out

In Croyde itself there are facilities for children. As well as the beach there is an activity park in the village centre and two holiday centres with fun swimming pools. For more adventurous activities you may consider Keypitts which offer quad biking. For full days out you may want to travel further afield for attractions like Watermouth Castle which is located north of Croyde, not far from Ilfracombe, or The Big Sheep and The Milky Way, which are located south of Croyde, nearer to Bideford.

If you are brave enough, you may like to visit Torrington Museum. A living museum celebrating the famous battle that took place and what life was like at that time.

Near to Torrington, but a little less gruesome is Dartington Glass. This a traditional glass and crystal making factory with tours where you can watch the glass being heated and blown.

If you are interested in history, then a visit to Cobbaton Combat Collection may be in order. This is a massive collection of vehicles, items, clothing and weapons from the Second World War period. Every year, D-Day is commemorated down at Saunton Beach around the 6th of June and many of the vehicles from Cobbaton along with lots of private owners all meet up to parade, create mock battles and party in the evening.