North Devon: the UK’s Playground

Published: Thursday 1st May 2014

Written by: Betheny Ellis

If you want somewhere that’s going to get the adrenaline flowing and your heart pounding then North Devon is the place for you. The mix of rugged landscape, long beaches and good weather has made it the UK’s playground for decades.

We’ll start at the beach, and of course the North Devon coast has drawn surfers in for decades. The west-facing beach-breaks that run along the coastline mean that the surf is reliable all year round, and Croyde in particular is famous for its low tide barrels. There are plenty of surf schools in the area that will give you instruction and equipment, whatever level you’re at.

The beach is also a great place to fly a kite. But this is no Mary Poppins kite flying, this is extreme kiting, harnessing the winds that sweep in off the Atlantic to propel yourself across the sands and sea.  Choose to ride on a landboard, in a buggy, or conquer the waves on a kiteboard, this extreme sport will leave you breathless. The beaches around Bideford and Barnstaple are especially set up for kiting, with local companies happy to show you the ropes.

Moving inland, the North Devon countryside is ideal for all sorts of outdoor activities. The beautiful expanse of Exmoor National Park is yours to explore, and is ideal for walking, cycling, geo-caching, orienteering, horse riding, and climbing.

More of a petrol head? Then how about some karting or quadbiking? Raceworld Karting near Exeter or North Devon Karting in Barnstaple offer you some great indoor racing, while Keypitts in Ilfracombe allow you to range across 180 acres of beautiful terrain on a quad bike. They also provide horses if you’d prefer something rather quieter to ride.

If you’re one of those people who likes to try everything, then why not go to an adventure centre? Southdown Adventure offers you quad biking, zorbing, clay shooting, archery, 4X4 driving and air rifle shooting, all on one site just south of Barnstaple. A little further north-west is The Ultimate Adventure Centre just outside Bideford. On this large site you can tackle their high rope course, zip wire, climbing wall and special Ultimate Assault course, which includes jumping across big balls just as in TV’s Wipeout. They also offer mountain boarding (careering downhill on heavy duty off-road skateboards), surfing, kayaking, water zorbing, and coasteering – a high adrenaline activity that involves scrambling around the rocky coastline. Prepare to get wet if you try this one!

Playing doesn’t always have to be high energy, seat-of-your-pants activity. Golf is one of the most popular sports in Britain and if you’re a fan of the noble game then bring your clubs and play a round in one of the most beautiful locations in the country. There are several courses scattered about the area, including near Ilfracombe, Woolacombe, Croyde, Barnstaple, and Appledore. And anglers have an enviable choice of places to cast their lines: both the coast and the many rivers that run through the region teem with fish.

Betheny Ellis
Betheny Ellis


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