North Devon - Towns and Villages
North Devon is largely made up of friendly villages and charming hamlets but also has one or two lively towns in the form of Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and Bideford.
Croyde dates back to pre-Saxon times and is one of the prettiest areas in Devon due to its many thatched chocolate box cottages. The village rests snuggly at the end of a sheltered valley with a stream running through the centre. The Beach is just a short walk from the centre and offers some of the UK's best surfing waves. Many parts of the Croyde date back to the 17th Century and most of the buildings that were built around that time have retained many of their original. The rambling hot spot of Baggy Point is found to the north of the bay and is maintained by the National Trust.
Saunton Sands is one of Devon's most memorable beaches. The impressive expanse of golden sand stretching for three miles is backed by massive sand dunes to the east. An excellent surfing beach - the waves here are ideal for those learning to surf. Patrolled with lifeguards during the summer months, the beach is also family conscious and provides good facilities including wheelchair access. Be warned that car parking space is often limited and will fill up on sunny summer days.
Braunton claims to be the largest village in Britain and is only a few miles from North Devon's Golden Coast. The excellent shopping facilities and good selection of cafes, pubs and restaurants make Braunton an ideal base from which to explore the varied attractions of the area. The dramatic coastline and spectacular beaches of Saunton, Croyde and Putsborough with their golden sands, safe bathing and excellent surfing are all within a short drive. Today, Braunton is a very important area of archaeological and natural importance. Braunton Great Field on the outskirts of the village is a famous archaeological site and one of a very few remaining examples of mediaeval strip farming. Braunton Burrows is a huge expanse of sand dunes - the largest in the UK -which stretches 6km along the shore and 2km inland.
Woolacombe is a favourite spot for surfers and beach lovers. The resort has a three mile golden beach and has won numerous awards including Blue Flag, Best Family Resort and Best British Beach. Sitting between the dramatic headlands of Baggy Point to the south and Morte Point to the north, much of the moorland you see is National Trust property. Woolacombe caters well for all visitors with a wealth of shops and restaurants, together with ample parking all year.
Mortehoe is situated close by to Woolacombe, Barricane and Coombesgate Beaches. Inseparably linked with Woolacombe - its companion village just minutes away, Mortehoe is a much older settlement with a dramatic history of wreckers and smugglers. Not only perfect for beach lovers, golfers can choose from the Championship links at Saunton, the Parkland course at Ilfracombe, or the newly developed Easewell Farm nearby. It's possible to go horse riding, fishing, surfing, clay pigeon shooting - all just minutes away.
Putsborough Sands consists of just a handful of properties situated at the southern end of Woolacombe Beach, next to Baggy Point. It's only a short drive from both Croyde and Georgeham. Arguably one of the prettiest beaches you'll visit in the UK, Pustborough is certainly an ideal base for beach lovers and any avid walkers due to it's proximity to both the surfing waves and the National Trust headland of Baggy.
West Down is a pleasant village, set about four miles inland from the North Devon coast. The village sits in a bowl in the foothills of Exmoor and is ideally located as a central location to many of the areas attractions. Many of the farmhouses and smaller cottages encompass the 14th century Church and some the older buildings are made of cob with slate roofs, and date back to the 17th century. The village has a shop, post office and village pub called The Crown.
Hele Bay is tiny seaside village and only a stones throw from Ilfracombe. On a mid to low tide various rock pools are revealed as well as a flat sand and shingle beach. Shops, cafe and a public house are within a short walk. Hele is adjacent to Hillsborough Nature Reserve. A free car park and toilets are within easy walking distance and access via a slipway (wheelchair access is difficult).
Ilfracombe has a history dating back to the Iron Age. This stunning coastal town with white washed houses, grand Victorian villas & terraces is nestled between the National Park of Exmoor and the surfing beaches of the golden coast. It became a very important holiday town during the Victorian era and today it still sees families flock here from all over the country to enjoy its beaches, harbour and attractions. Home to the Landmark Theatre and some of North Devon's best restaurants - including world famous artist - Damient Hirst's restaurant No.11 the Quay.
Combe Martin is a coastal village situated four miles east of Ilfracombe. This small seaside resort holds a sheltered cove on the edge of the Exmoor National Park and is believed to have the longest village street in England. Combe Martin contains many shops, pubs, restaurants, cafes but is mainly a popular holiday destination for its Beach and cliffs. Combe Martin boasts the highest cliff in Southern Britain which is named ‘The Great Hangman’, this can be accessed by a footpath which runs through the village. Just a couple of miles from Combe Martin you will come across the picturesque Watermouth Cove with beautiful coastal views and harboured boats. Watermouth Cove is a great place to simply admire or to do something adventurous such as kayaking.