Tourist Information in North Devon
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North Devon Tourist Information

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With the national parks of both Dartmoor and Exmoor lying to the south and west respectively, this quaintly dramatic part of Devon is one of Britain's least despoiled holiday destinations.

Full of charming West Country villages, glorious gardens and fine historic buildings, it also boasts a rugged coastline dotted with scenic seaside resorts.

No doubt most first-time visitors will head for places like Ilfracombe and Appledore that hug a coastline constantly broken by wave-lapped combes.

To the east, however, the Exmoor coast boasts the highest cliffs in southern Britain with the Great Hangman, near Combe Martin, soaring to 1043ft or 318 metres.

To the west, Hartland Point gazes out to the spot where the Bristol Channel meets the vast Atlantic Ocean.

In between are numerous sandy beaches - exemplified by those at Woolacombe and Saunton - and many sites of special scientific interest. So important is the area that the Taw and Torridge Estuary, together with the dunes of Braunton Burrows, has been awarded the status of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

This area takes in the plant-rich Braunton Marsh as well as Northam Burrows. Braunton Burrows is the largest sand dune system in the UK, possessing about 500 species of flowering plants, including a number of rare orchids.

A few miles off the coast is Lundy Island, now owned by the National Trust. It's a haven for puffins, not to mention peace and quiet - it has a tiny human population and can only be reached by ferry.


In contrast with the drama of North Devon's seashore, inland lies rolling countryside, picturesque river valleys, evocative market towns and a welcoming climate.

It was the arrival of the railways in the 19th century that opened up the region to tourism and this aspect of Devon's economy is now worth well in excess of £1billion a year. The region as a whole is a pleasing mixture of farmland, eye-catching country mansions and fascinating buildings set against the atmospheric backdrop of Dartmoor's hills.

One of its most talked-about attractions is the Tarka Trail, a 180-mile, figure-of-eight footpath that takes in many of the places Tarka the otter visited in Henry Williamson's fictional story. Many of these sights have changed little since his novel hit the bookshelves in the 1920s. It was made into a film in the 1970s.

The route takes in the Torridge Valley, where the heroic otter was born, and Eggesford Forest in the Taw Valley where the footpath joins the Tarka Line railway. It also crosses part of northern Dartmoor and the heather moorland of Exmoor.

Williamson lived in a small cottage in Georgeham and is buried in the village's churchyard.

Among North Devon's great houses is Hartland Abbey, near Bideford, which was built in the 12th century as a monastery. Its gardens wind their way to a rocky cove.

Arlington Court, near Barnstaple, is a treasure-packed Regency house, while ancient Docton Mill boasts eight acres of gardens in a sheltered, wooded valley with a number of babbling streams.

Overall, northern Devon also offers huge potential for those who like to take exercise in addition to sightseeing. Walkers, cyclists, riders, surfers, bird watchers, anglers and an endless list of other activities are catered for. And for families who love traditional festivals, this part of the West Country has plenty of opportunities.

The biggest festival is the Goldcoast OceanFest, staged on the beaches of Croyde and Woolacombe.


Hartland Point: Ernie Camacho
Woolacombe Sands: Jon Barton
Braunton Burrows: Richard Johns
Lundy Island: Steve Edge
Tarka Trail: David Smith
Torridge Valley: Derek Harper
Hartland Abbey: Christina Burford
Arlington Court: Linda Bailey
Croyde Beach: Ben Gamble


Tourist Information Centres

PO Box 55, Barnstaple, Devon, EX32 8YR
Tel: 0870 6085531 (calls charged)

36 Boutport Street, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 1RX
Tel: 01271 375000    Fax: 01271 374037

Victoria Park, The Quay, Bideford, Devon, EX39 2QQ
Tel: 01237 477676   Fax: 01237 421853

The Bakehouse Centre, Caen Street, Braunton, Devon, EX33 1AA
Tel: 01271 816400   Fax: 01271 816947

Combe Martin Tourist Information Centre, Devon, UK
Contact Combe Martin Tourist Information Centre in North Devon for a complete guide

The Old Town Hall, High Street, Crediton, Devon, EX17 3LF
Tel: 01363 772006   Fax: 01363 772006

Castle Hill, South Street Car Park, Great Torrington, Devon, EX38 8AA
Tel: 01805 626140   Fax: 01805 626141

The Landmark, The Seafront, Ilfracombe, Devon, EX34 9BX
Tel: 01271 863001   Fax: 01271 862586

Town Hall, Lee Road, Lynton, Devon, EX35 6BT
Tel: 01598 752225   Fax: 01598 752755

1 East Street, South Molton, Devon, EX36 3BU
Tel: 01769 574122   Fax: 01769 574044

The Esplanade, Woolacombe, Devon, EX34 7DL
Tel: 01271 870553   Fax: 01271 870553


Useful links

North Devon Festival -