Villages in Devon: 10 of the best places to visit
PUBLISHED: 11:00 27 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:17 06 July 2017
Villages in Devon are some of the prettiest in the South West. From beautiful little hamlets on the outskirts of the moors to seaside communities, we pick 10 villages in Devon you need to visit
Situated on the South coast of Devon, Bigbury-on-sea is a perfect family destination, cherished for its soft, golden sands to sink your feet in to and rock pools to explore. For those of you into water sports, Bigbury has plenty to offer with large open waters ideal for surfing. If you’re feeling peckish you can pop in to the Venus café, which serves homemade Devon beef burgers, artisan pasties and delicious breakfast baps all to be enjoyed whilst taking in the superb beachside views. Burgh Island is Bigbury’s most famous landmark, serving as the inspirational setting for Agatha Christie’s ‘And There Were None’ and home to the wonderful, art deco inspired Burgh Island Hotel. The island is connected to the mainland via the beach, but at high tide you can watch in awe as the route is swallowed by the sea. Visitors can still reach the island by taking a trip on the famous “beach tractor”.
Carved perfectly into the hillsides of North Devon is the timeless and unique village of Clovelly. Its cobbled streets are filled with stunning 16th century cottages with breathtaking views overlooking the small harbour 400 feet below. Vehicles are not permitted in the village so for parking you’ll have to go to the top of Clovelly and travel down on foot, or via the Land Rover service that is provided. For a time donkeys were used to carry visitors down to the village, today, they enjoy a more peaceful life posing for photographs and giving rides to children in the summer. You’ll find there’s plenty to do in the village, from getting creative in the craft workshops, to exploring the unique selection of shops dotted throughout. If you have a passion for history then the two museums; the Kingsley Museum and the Fisherman’s Cottage are definitely worth a visit. There are two excellent restaurants in Clovelly, the Red Lion Hotel Harbour Restaurant and New Inn Hamlyn both of which are committed to serving fresh, local produce.
Beer is known for being a picturesque fishing village, positioned on the east coast of Devon. Pebbles beautifully decorate the beach down to Lyme Bay where gentle waves glide softly up to your feet and the white chalk cliffs create a perfect suntrap from the winds. You will struggle to experience everything Beer has to offer in just a weekend, from exploring the Beer Quarry Caves – home to the famous Beer stone – or walking through the magnificent 18th Century Bicton Gardens. Every year the Beer Regatta attracts lots of visitors offering a week full of activities, food and market stalls. The boats bring in fish daily to deliver to the local stores, restaurants and the local fishmonger on the sea front. The perfect example of this is Steamers Restaurant where head chef/owner Andy Williams serves fish and shellfish fresh from the waters of Beer.
Appledore is a small fishing village in North Devon that for centuries acted as a hub for shipbuilding. Today it is home to the North Devon Maritime Museum that gives a glimpse behind the scenes of shipbuilding and seafaring. The harbour, once filled with traditional fishing vessels now shares its space with beautiful yachts offering trips to visitors up and down the estuary. A leisurely walk through the village will reveal rows of brightly painted fisherman’s cottages stacked together along narrow streets and courtyards. It boats an excellent range of small shops, art galleries and an assortment of fantastic cafes, pubs and restaurants – many of which are dog friendly – such as Susie’s Tearoom and The Seagate. For those looking for a bit of romance during their trip, there is a seasonal ferry to Instow, proud owner of a beautiful 17th century quay and a sandy dog-friendly beach. Appledore is within close proximity to ancient market towns; such as Bideford, Barnstaple and Great Torrington, perfect for a day of exploring.
Found in the North between Woolacombe and Saunton, Croyde is a surfer’s paradise complete with spectacular sandy beaches and wide open vistas just begging to be photographed. Children can build sandcastles and play on the beach whilst their parents lay back and catch some rays, Croyde has it all. There is a huge selection of eateries dotted around Croyde such as, the Thatch for traditional pub food and real ales; the Old Cream Shop & Tea Garden for those delicate treats and the Ice Cream Parlour for a cool dessert on those sunnier days. Croyde is also a foodie haven having benefitted from the ‘street food revolution,’ being the hometown of Lola’s Wings who have a pitch there, and other visiting street food trucks and trailers.
A jewel of the North Devon coastline, Combe Martin is situated just on the edge of the Exmoor National Park, with lots of beautiful nature sitting right on its doorstep. The beach is a great place to spend time with family and friends; it’s safe and clean with a treasure trove of incredible rock pools that are teeming with aquatic life. The waves in the bay are usually nice and gentle, ideal for a day floating on your inflatable – you might even spot a dolphin. Just a ten minute walk from the beach is the Pack o’ Cards Inn, where you can enjoy a relaxing stay in an ancient monument building with a unique and quirky history. In the evenings you can indulge in some of Devon’s finest real ales and excellent food all from the comfort of their riverside garden. With designated walking paths, water sports and rock pooling nearby, you will never find yourself at a loose end when it comes to things to do. When hunger strikes you can always retreat to the Black and White fish & chips where you can grab a bite to eat with the beach in view.
Whether you’re looking for a spot to lie back and watch the world go by, or embrace your adventurer and go exploring – Mortehoe is the quintessential little village on the North Devon coast. It is home to what is arguably one of the prettiest stretches of coastline that our county has to offer. Our favourite, Grunta Beach has a very steep Cliffside walk down to the sand but its secluded spot, clear crashing waves and excellent rock pools make it more than worth the walk. For those in touch with their inquisitive side, head over to the Mortehoe museum for what locals call the “Mortehoe experience” and delve into a local history of village life and shipwrecks. For places to stay, the self-catered Combesgate Apartment has excellent sea-views to enjoy over a morning cup of tea.
Braunton is at the heart of North Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With one of the largest sand dune systems in England, your jaws will drop the moment you lay eyes on Braunton Burrows. You’ll find cosy cottages nestled into the cobbled streets, side by side with some of the local pubs and eateries. One of which is The Riverside pub, with a red and white interior and modern décor, not to mention their tasty coffee! Another great place to visit would be Squires fish and chip shop, for a modern yet alternative chippy, where their fish is so fluffy it just melts in your mouth! The fresh air, fabulous food and superbly beautiful beaches make this Devon village an ideal holiday location.
A dream for long boarders and surfers Woolacombe is one of North Devon’s beauty spots, with three miles of the purist sand; you’ll struggle to find a better beach – it’s even won awards! Renowned nationwide for its cleanliness, and excellent range of facilities and activities the only drawback is that dogs are banned from certain areas for most of the year. Woolacombe has a few eateries to choose from; the Boardwalk Restaurant & Bar, where you can tuck into an eclectic mix of fine food whilst watching the waves through the large glass windows overlooking the beach. However, if you are looking for a livelier establishment, look no further than the Red Barn surf bar-grill; with an emphasis on “beer, food, surf and music’, you’ll struggle to find somewhere with a better atmosphere. There is also an impressive array of small independent surf and gift shops dotted around the town where the staff are friendly and welcoming and always happy to chat to their customers.
10. East Portlemouth
This small Devon village is tucked away on the Southern end of the Kingsbridge Estuary; it’s the perfect destination if you’re looking for a bit of peace of quiet, away from the crowds and tourist areas. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty the beach is secluded, perfect for a family with young children or a couple on a romantic getaway – it’s also dog friendly all year round! With regular ferries to and from Salcombe it’s the perfect opportunity for a day out. There is something for everyone, from nature enthusiast to wave surfers; with stunning coves to explore and water sports galore. Nearby there are National Trust walks to discover such as the East Portlemouth to Gara Rocks, a 3.9 mile trek, on which you pass by the romantic Fort Charles ruins. For food with a view look no further than Café Ode at Gara Rock, providing local Salcombe crab, homemade burgers all washed down with traditional Cornish ale and lager from their in-house micro brewery.