Long sandy beaches, atmospheric fishing villages and rolling moorland; North Devon has a landscape to inspire and makes for a memorable holiday in the UK. The region offers a smorgasbord of things to do, be it spending time with family at local attractions, celebrating with friends in exceptional eateries or exploring the coast and countryside with your dog. While there are many beautiful towns and villages in which to base yourself in our Devon cottages, there’s one little village which, we think, deserves a special mention.
We’re shining the spotlight on Appledore, home of arguably the best ice cream in Devon, a world-renowned literary festival and picture-postcard estuary views.
Skip to section:
Food and drink
About the village:
Perched on a hillside on the rugged North Devon coast, the quaint fishing village of Appledore welcomes visitors to explore its attractive maze of winding cobbled streets lined with the prettiest of pastel-coloured houses, decorated with cheery hanging baskets and a scattering of lobster pots. Situated at the confluence of the Taw and Torridge rivers with views over to Instow, the village is built on an ancient tradition of fishing and shipbuilding which continues today.
Holidays in Appledore provide the perfect opportunity to indulge in simple seaside pleasures such as days at the beach, crabbing, boat trips, cream teas and paper-wrapped fish and chips. There is also an array of independent shops selling antiques, trinkets and local crafts, as well as a handful of art galleries, restaurants and friendly pubs.
Dotted with traditional fishing vessels, a gentle stroll along Appledore’s quay-side offers a glimpse into the village’s maritime heritage. Wander past tiny whitewashed terraced houses, the former homes of fishermen (some which date back the Elizabethan era) and watch boats and trawlers sail in with the day’s haul. In Elizabethan times, Appledore, along with Bideford, was the largest importer of tobacco, and the nautical air of the village still breathes tales of smugglers and secrets.
Today, the Quay is central to life in the village and it is here that you can hop aboard a cruise up the estuary, enjoy a fishing trip and sample the delights of the famous Hockings ice cream van. Crabbing contests are also popular and if you fancy having a go, a little bit of bacon always works a treat!
Nearby Gray Sands beach is an idyllic spot to while away a quiet afternoon on a Devonshire holiday. Whether on a family break or a romantic retreat, its golden sands and fantastic views are sure to please everyone. Just around the corner from the glorious sandy stretch of Westward Ho!, it’s quieter and still has sand to stroll along even when the tide is in.
Alternatively, catch the seasonal ferry which runs at high tide from Appledore quayside to the sweeping beach of Instow. Pass some time with a barefoot wander along the shoreline or sit and admire the colourful fishing boats bobbing about on the water, this is definitely a beach in North Devon worth writing home about.
Ideal for families, there are a host of things to do with children in Appledore. A great rainy-day option is The North Devon Maritime Museum where you can discover more about the fascinating seafaring history of Appledore through interesting exhibitions, photographs and interactive displays. Seven exhibition rooms each tell an enthralling story, including tales of WWII beach landings, wreck and rescues, shipbuilding techniques, smuggling and the Victorian era.
If you fancy your own adventure on the seas, there is an abundance of boat and fishing trips – look out for signs along the Quay. The seasonal Appledore-Instow Ferry takes passengers to the pretty village of Instow, with its sheltered stretch of sandy beach, towering dunes, 17th century pier and cosmopolitan yacht club. If you prefer to stay closer to shore, try a relaxing fishing trip and admire the coastal scenery from the water.
Thrill seekers are sure to love Skern Lodge with its climbing walls, high ropes course, rafting, kayaking and surfing, while those interested in arts and crafts will appreciate a creative day at Sea Green of Appledore, a local gallery which runs workshops in mosaics, ceramics and the use of recycled objects. If you prefer feeding cute and cuddly animals, however, The Big Sheep is only four miles away, with its fun rides, pets’ corner, adventure park and famous sheep racing.
From rooms with a view in our holiday homes overlooking the ocean, to historic fishermen’s cottages with open fires and colourful hideaways tucked away down traffic-free streets with shops, galleries and eateries on the doorstep, our Appledore holiday cottages offer an authentic experience of life in North Devon. Sleepy in the winter, but lively in the summer, a stay in this charming fishing village will always be remembered.
Whether you are a couple looking for a romantic break for two or a family searching for a larger property, we have self-catering accommodation to suit everyone – and our dog-friendly cottages in Appledore mean your canine companion is welcome too.
The food and drink:
For a modestly sized village, Appledore has an excellent choice of places to eat and drink. Market Street Kitchen and The Coffee Cabin are both lovely spots for a crab sandwich or a slice of homemade cake. John’s of Appledore is a well-respected local establishment, with a grocery shop, a mouth-watering selection of deli food and welcoming café. Coming highly recommended by locals, there are also a couple of excellent fish and chips shops in Appledore serving mouth-wateringly good seafood: Sylvester’s and The Royal Plaice.
The village is home to a handful of traditional pubs, most of which boast beamed ceilings, flagstone floors, comfy sofas in front of open fires and waterside views, as well as a fine selection of local ciders and ales such as Hobgoblin, Otter Amber and Betty Stogs. The Royal George is known for its menu of innovative dishes with twists on traditional classics, which you can enjoy while taking in the sun setting over the water. The Beaver and The Champ have great atmospheres with homecooked food and regular live music. Another great option is The Seagate for its family atmosphere and Mediterranean-style walled garden and the Flame Factory for delicious stone-baked pizzas and meat from the grill.
The South West Coast Path winds its way through Appledore offering scenic walks along North Devon’s dramatic coastline. One of our favourite treks starts at Appledore’s Main Car Park on the seafront and follows the coast path for several miles to Northam Burrows Country Park, a Site of Scientific Interest due to its diverse range of coastal habitats.
The salt marshes, open grassland, rocky shores and sand dunes are a haven for all kinds of wildlife, from vivid lichens to rare birds. This is a particularly lovely walk if you’re taking your dog along as it passes by a dog-friendly beach and The Beaver pub at the start of the trail that welcomes four-legged friends inside for a refreshing bowl of water.
Appledore is known for its lively calendar of local events and one of the big highlights is the annual Appledore Book Festival. Taking place from the end of September until the beginning of October, this North Devon literary event welcomes acclaimed international authors, speakers and celebrities to offer inspirational talks, readings, workshops, book signings and film nights.
If you’re thinking of visiting Appledore in the summer, the Appledore and Instow Regatta kicks off at the beginning of August each year and offers an abundance of nautical fun and entertainment for the whole family. Cheer on the gig boat crews as they race along the quay, take part in crabbing competitions or try your hand at a tug-of-war contest. In November, the quay comes alive with visitors watching the huge bonfire and fireworks lighting up the sky over the estuary.
This quaint North Devon fishing village really does have so much to offer, so why not take a look at our great range of Appledore cottages and book your next stay.
Discover more of Devon:
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.