Explore North Devon

Whether you're interested in outdoor activities, exploring charming villages, or simply relaxing on beautiful beaches, North Devon has something to offer for every type of visitor.

This article was written on 13 March 2024
and is a 5 minute read

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North Devon is a one of the most picturesque parts of the south west, renowned for its stunning coastline, pretty villages, and beautiful countryside.

Exmoor National Park

Exmoor National Park covers a significant portion of North Devon and Somerset. Visitors can enjoy hiking, cycling, horse riding, and wildlife watching. Exmoor is renowned for its breath taking natural beauty, characterised by rolling hills, rugged coastline, wooded valleys, and expansive moorland. Exmoor is the setting for R.D. Blackmore’s classic novel “Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor”. The novel tells the story of a romance between John Ridd, a farmer from Exmoor, and Lorna Doone, the daughter of a notorious outlaw family. Many of the locations mentioned in the novel, such as Doone Valley and Oare Church, can still be visited today. Exmoor is designated as an International Dark Sky Reserve, making it one of the best places in the UK for stargazing.

Read more in our previous blog.

Exmoor Scene by https://unsplash.com/@ben_btw

Croyde Bay

A popular destination for surfers, Croyde boasts beautiful sandy beaches and excellent waves. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a beginner, you’ll find suitable conditions here. The village itself has a laid-back atmosphere with cosy pubs and cafes. The beach is backed by sand dunes and offers super views of the surrounding cliffs and headlands. The windswept walk from Croyde to Putsborough via Baggy Point is one of our favourites on the South West Coast Path.

Windswept coast path leaving Croyde (Maria Thorne)

Woolacombe Bay

Woolacombe (Maria Thorne)

Voted as one of the best beaches in the UK, Woolacombe Beach is renowned for its three miles of golden sands and clear waters. It’s an excellent spot for swimming, beach games and building sandcastles. With the stretch of sand being so long, you’re guaranteed to find a spot to yourself! The beach offers consistent waves that are ideal for surfing, and there are surf schools and rental shops in the village where visitors can hire equipment or take lessons. Once you get away from the town end of the beach, Woolacombe is dog-friendly all year round.

Read more about our favourite local beaches.


Ilfracombe is a charming seaside town, known for its picturesque harbour, stunning coastal scenery, and the rather intriguing, if somewhat controversial, Damien Hirst sculpture, “Verity”. Stroll along the quayside and watch the comings and goings of the colourful fishing boats. The high street has a wide choice of independent shops, cafes and pubs and there’s also a small aquarium, perfect for learning more about local aquatic creatures.

Lynton, Lynmouth and Valley of Rocks

These neighbouring villages, nestled within Exmoor National Park are connected by an historic, water-powered funicular railway. The railway, which has been operating since 1890, offers a good opportunity to view the coastline as it climbs the steep cliffs between the two villages. Lynton sits at the top of the cliff, with some lovely, independent shops, while Lynmouth harbour has a rich maritime history. The Flood Memorial Hall hosts an interesting exhibit about the 1952 natural disaster during which much of the lower village was swept away in heavy storms.

Lynton to Lynmouth Funicular Railway (Maria Thorne)

Don’t miss Valley of Rocks when you’re in this area. Not only is it an absolutely stunning part of the county, with towering rock formations and panoramic views of the Bristol Channel and the surrounding Exmoor coastline, it’s also home to families of wild goats!

Wild Goats at Valley of Rocks (Maria Thorne)


One of the most distinctive features of Clovelly is its steep cobbled streets, which wind their way down through the village to the harbour below. The streets are too narrow and steep for vehicles, so transportation is primarily on foot. Goods are moved about on specially-adapted sledges! The donkeys that used to do the heavy lifting in Clovelly have now been retired. Naturally, being so picturesque, Clovelly has always attracted artists. Visitors can browse for handmade pottery, jewellery, artwork, and other souvenirs in the village’s shops and galleries.

Clovelly by https://unsplash.com/@lasmaa

Cycling the Tarka Trail

Cyclists might like to take their bikes to North Devon to explore a section of the Tarka Trail. The entire trail is a 180 mile, sign-marked trail that makes use of existing routes and paths to follow the route taken by the fictional character Tarka the Otter from the book by Henry Williamson. However, if you don’t fancy the whole 180 miles(!), there are six sections, each mostly off-road and with beautiful views.

Cycling the Tark Trail

As always, we’d be delighted to hear which parts of Devon you love to visit when you’re staying with us. Let us know!