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Wild and windblown clifftops punctuated by sandy, hidden coves once used by smugglers: North Devon boasts some of the most spectacular coastline in the whole of the county. Stunning beaches and dramatic headlands run all the way from Lynton and Lynmouth to Hartland. Quite simply, North Devon is a walking paradise. Trace this coastline by following scenic tracks and trails through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and you’ll discover some of the most varied terrain and beautiful countryside and coast in the UK.
Here at Stay In Devon, we’ve had plenty of experience of walking along this beautiful stretch of the South West Coast Path as our office is a stone’s throw away. So, who best to share some local insider knowledge than our friendly team? From hidden beaches only us locals know about, to great spots to catch the sunset and some of the best places to stop for a bite to eat along the way, here are our favourite walks in North Devon.
Torridge Tarka Trail
Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Easy - since the route uses a former railway, it is also suitable for use by cyclists, wheelchair users or as a pushchair walk.
Chosen by team member Matt Fletcher, the Torridge Tarka Trail takes you along a 3-mile stretch of former railway track that lines the banks of the River Torridge between Bideford and Instow. This largely flat route has good bus links and takes in some fantastic sights including estuary views, Appledore Shipyard, Braunton Burrows in the distance at Saunton Sands, and the former mileage posts along the way. Tapeley Park is also just off the route and well worth making a slight detour for, with a magnificent stately home and beautiful Italian-inspired gardens to see.
Matt’s top tip: “Start in Bideford and enjoy the walk before turning right, off the trail, into the village of Instow. Here you can while away a few hours on its golden sand before stopping for a refreshing drink in one of Instow’s waterside pubs, watching the sun go down over the ocean. You can then return back to Bideford on the bus.”
Distance: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy - the route follows an old railway line and is flat, tarmacked and used by walkers and cyclists as well as being accessible to wheelchairs.
Sales Manager Bruce Carter enjoys heading to Fremington Quay for a gentle stroll all year round. If you’re looking for a peaceful place to wander, this is it. Again, the route follows the old railway line along the River Taw and it’s worth taking a pair of binoculars as it’s a great spot for birdwatching, particularly at Home Farm Marsh. Make time to explore the small creek known as Fremington Pill, with its moored boats and the odd wreck, and pop into the Quay Café and Heritage Centre with its treasure trove of local history.
Bruce’s top tip: “Fremington Quay is perfect for exploring by bike, especially if you’re holidaying with children. After seeing the sights, stop for a bite to eat in Fremington Quay Café where a delicious range of sandwiches and local produce are served. The Devon cream teas are a must, made with freshly-baked scones, homemade jam and local clotted cream – just remember, cream before the jam is the Devonshire way!”
Bucks Mills and Peppercombe Castle
Distance: 4.7 miles
Difficulty: Moderate - coastal and inland paths, and along quiet roads. Some of the paths are rocky and may be slippery and there is a lot of ascent and descent, some of it steep with steps and stiles.
Marketing Executive Dan Elston’s favourite walk in North Devon is a circular route on the South West Coast Path that starts in the charming village of Bucks Mills. The path passes some beautiful landmarks including the abandoned Peppercombe Castle, an ancient woodland teeming with wildlife and optional steep descents to two remote sand and shingle beaches. You can also detour halfway around to visit the thatched 13th-century Hoops Inn which is dog-friendly. It can get quite muddy along the way, so be sure to wear suitable footwear.
Dan’s top tip: “Bucks Mill is one of North Devon’s hidden gems. The shingle beach is dotted with fascinating rock pools, and coastal waterfalls cascade down the side of the cliffs, glistening in the sunlight. This is one of the best places in the area to sit back, relax and watch the sunset. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a dolphin or two.”
Need somewhere to stay?
These are just a few of many North Devon walks which you can enjoy during your stay. After a wonderful day of exploring the North Devon coastline, you’ll be needing somewhere relaxing to rest your weary limbs, so why not have a browse of our holiday cottages in North Devon? Whether you’re travelling as a couple, a family or bringing the dog, we have a wide selection of self-catering accommodation in Devon to suit everyone.
Some more inspiration…
For more great walking inspiration in Devon, have a read of our guide to ‘The best secret walks in Devon’, and the ‘Top walking holidays in Devon’. Alternatively, if you’re bringing your dog on holiday, take a look at these ‘11 Devon dog walks for you to enjoy’, or if you prefer to explore on two wheels, we also have an insider’s guide to ‘Devon’s best cycling trails.’