Adventures a-plenty

Want to get out and get active? You’re in the right place. North Devon is a playground for anyone who has tasted the thrill of adrenaline and wants more. From the simple rush of turning a corner onto a breathtaking view, to hurtling across land and water at a rate of knots, we’ve got something for all. So lace up your trainers and let’s get to it! 

Tarka Trail, Instow
Tarka Trail, Instow

Explore the Tarka Trail

We are extremely fortunate in North Devon to have the Tarka Trail. This 180-mile walking and cycle route weaves its way through North Devon to the tip of Dartmoor. The entire route is centred around the ancient market town of Barnstaple. The north loop travels up through Exmoor into Lynton and Lynmouth then back along the coast. The southern loop follows the river Torridge deep into the heart of Otter country, through Torrington, turning at Okehampton on the fringe of Dartmoor National Park and heading back towards Barnstaple. Put simply – it’ll take you to some of the most beautiful places in all of Devon. 

We often take our kids scooting along the trail on a weekend. Somehow, we always seem to end up eating cake at one of the brilliant cafes along the way – but none of us are complaining! Some of our favourites are the Fremington Quay Cafe, Johns Cafe at Instow (check out nearby Linwood) and the Riverside Cafe in Braunton. 

Saunton Sands
Saunton Sands

Get outside with the kids

The first time I visited Crow Point, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been here before! This unspoiled beach lies at the southerly tip of the magnificent Saunton Sands Beach – just a little further on from Knelle Lodge Apartments. To get there, it’s a leisurely walk of about three miles from the car park on American Road, and it takes an hour and a half with the kids. The walk takes you alongside the River Taw and River Torridge, through sand dunes and out onto a lovely beach where the rivers meet the sea. 

There is gorgeous scenery along the way, including views across the estuary to Instow and Appledore, but the highlight for me is the beach at the end. You often find you have the whole place to yourself. It feels so peaceful and never fails to inspire me. A great family walk and dog friendly too, with no restrictions at any time of the year. One not to be missed – just make sure you check the car park times so you don’t get locked in.

Adventure ribs experience
Adventure Ribs experience

Make a splash

North Devon is heaven for watersports enthusiasts. Down here, we are blessed with a fantastic stretch of coastline that ranges from endless sandy beaches to coves hidden between imposing cliffs. Such natural assets provide a great place to enjoy windsurfing, surfing, coasteering and kayaking, to name but a few. 

For me, there is no activity more uplifting than surfing in the evening. Catching waves whilst watching the sun go down over the horizon is the stuff dreams are made of, particularly on some of the best surfing beaches in the whole of the UK. And there is still lots to do when the waves aren’t pumping. Kayaking around Ilfracombe and Combe Martin is a must-do and I would highly recommend paddle boarding for those wanting an activity a little bit less active than surfing. Further inland, Exmoor has many rivers you can access for some wild swimming. The Wake Park near Bideford has two good size lakes with a range of activities including an aqua park and wakeboarding.

Adventures to remember

You’ve probably heard of the Ilfracombe Princess. These cruises are something of a gem within Devon, allowing travellers to see the wonderful coastal features and sea life that Devon has to offer. You can spy on seals, dolphins and porpoises in comfort and safety – setting out from the harbour overlooked by The Hollies.

But, if you’re more of a thrill-seeker, the Adventure Ribs experience might be more up your street. Start with a Blast Around the Bay – 30 minutes of high-octane fun in a speedboat that’ll leave you grinning from ear to ear. If you still want more, there are longer discovery tours and even a 3-hour dolphin adventure where you can hunt out these very special visitors to our shores in the warmer summer months. 

The latest journey times are all on the website for Ilfracombe Princess and the Adventure Ribs. Usually, you can catch a ride between Easter and the end of October. 

Continue the journey

Let us take you on a journey to North Devon from the comfort of your sofa! In these uncertain times, we’re bringing the best of England and Wales to you – so read on and experience Oliver from Marsdens Devon Cottages’ favourite places to go and some hidden gems, too. We’ve got plenty of nearby properties, and can’t wait to welcome you back soon…