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Best days out in North Devon

best days out in north devon

There is so much to do in here and we have had some of the best days out in North Devon. I hope that you find this list helpful in planning what you want to do.

Beyond the world-class surfing, this captivating region unveils a treasure trove of experiences for day trips. Imagine exploring charming villages steeped in history, venturing into dramatic landscapes, or even setting sail for an island adventure. Whether you crave a dose of adrenaline, a relaxed family outing, or a cultural immersion, North Devon caters to every whim. This list will unveil the best day trips North Devon has to offer, ensuring your escape is as memorable as it is enriching. So, pack your bags, unleash your inner explorer, and get ready to discover the magic of North Devon!


Exmoor National Park: A Wild Escape into Enchanting Beauty

tarr steps

Exmoor National Park sprawls across North Devon and Somerset, beckoning you with a tapestry of rolling hills, rugged moorland, and dramatic coastlines. This vast wilderness is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering endless opportunities for exploration. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a trek across heather-clad moors, where wild ponies roam free and panoramic vistas unfold at every turn.

For the adventurous, Exmoor offers a playground of activities. Kayaking or canoeing on the tranquil waters of Porlock Weir allows you to spot an array of birdlife, while horse riding along ancient bridleways provides a unique perspective of the landscape. Cyclists can tackle challenging climbs and exhilarating descents on designated trails, while adrenaline junkies can test their limits with rock climbing or caving adventures.

Beyond the thrill, Exmoor boasts hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Picturesque villages like Lynton and Lynmouth, nestled in a dramatic valley connected by a funicular railway, offer a glimpse into a bygone era. Explore the ruins of Dunster Castle, a medieval fortress steeped in history, or delve into the enchanting Exmoor Zoo, home to a diverse collection of animals from around the world.

Exmoor National Park is a place to reconnect with nature, embrace adventure, and create lasting memories. Whether you seek a gentle stroll through rolling hills or a heart-pounding challenge, Exmoor’s wild beauty has something for everyone. In my view, a trip to Exmoor will be one of the best days out in North Devon.


Lundy Island: A Remote Paradise Steeped in Mystery

ss oldenburg

Lundy Island, a captivating gem nestled 12 miles off the coast of North Devon, offers a true escape from the ordinary. This car-free island boasts a unique microclimate, supporting a rich tapestry of flora and fauna. Explore a landscape sculpted by dramatic cliffs, hidden coves, and vibrant heathland teeming with wildlife.

History buffs will be enthralled by Lundy’s intriguing past. The island’s imposing lighthouse and ruined castle whisper tales of pirates, shipwrecks, and smuggling. Follow the well-maintained trails, soak in the breathtaking views, and uncover remnants of a bygone era.

Lundy Island isn’t just a feast for the eyes – it’s a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Keep your eyes peeled for Lundy’s resident puffins, marvel at the majestic peregrine falcons soaring through the sky, and spot playful harbor porpoises frolicking in the surrounding waters.

Reaching Lundy requires a short ferry journey from Ilfracombe or Clovelly. Whether you choose a day trip or opt for an overnight stay in one of the island’s charming cottages, Lundy Island promises an unforgettable experience. It’s a place to disconnect from the hustle and bustle, reconnect with nature, and discover a hidden gem off the North Devon coast.


Dive into the rich heritage of North Devon with ’50 Gems of North Devon’, a captivating guide unveiling the region’s hidden treasures. From stunning landscapes to historic sites, this book offers a glimpse into North Devon’s soul, making it a must-have for locals and visitors alike seeking adventure and discovery.

Find out more

gems of north devon

RHS Garden Rosemoor: A Floral Paradise for All Seasons

RHS Garden Rosemoor

For those seeking a tranquil escape amidst breathtaking beauty, RHS Garden Rosemoor is a must-visit. Nestled in the rolling hills of North Devon, this 65-acre haven boasts a dazzling display of plants from across the globe. Wander through meticulously landscaped gardens, each showcasing a unique theme and explosion of color.

The jewel in Rosemoor’s crown is, unsurprisingly, its rose collection. With over 2,000 varieties in bloom throughout the summer, the fragrance and vibrant hues create a truly captivating spectacle. However, Rosemoor’s beauty extends far beyond summer. Springtime brings vibrant displays of daffodils and tulips, while autumn paints the landscape with fiery reds and golden yellows. Winter unveils a different kind of charm, with sculptural bare branches and frosty mornings offering a serene escape.

Beyond the floral masterpieces, Rosemoor offers something for everyone. Explore the tranquil woodland walk, meander through the productive kitchen garden bursting with fresh produce, or lose yourself in the vibrant wildlife garden teeming with birds and butterflies. The on-site cafe provides a delightful pit stop to fuel your exploration with delicious refreshments.

Rosemoor caters to families as well. Children will be captivated by the interactive “Hide and Seek” garden, while a dedicated play area ensures little ones can burn off energy while surrounded by beauty. RHS Garden Rosemoor is a place to reconnect with nature, marvel at horticultural artistry, and create lasting memories in a serene and enchanting setting.


Clovelly Village: A Time Capsule Steeped in Charm

clovelly

For a glimpse into a bygone era – and easily one of the best days out in North Devon, a trip to the captivating village of Clovelly is a must. This enchanting car-free haven clings precariously to a cliff face, with narrow, cobbled streets lined with whitewashed cottages. Explore the village on foot, marveling at the traditional architecture and colorful displays of flowers adorning every window box.

Clovelly’s history dates back to the 13th century, and its unique charm has remained remarkably untouched by time. Independent shops line the streets, offering a delightful selection of local crafts, souvenirs, and tempting treats. The harbour, a bustling hub in its heyday, now provides a picturesque setting with charming cafes and boat trips offering stunning coastal views.

For a touch of adventure, descend the 400-step pathway known as “The Hobby,” used for centuries to transport goods from the harbor to the village above. Alternatively, donkey rides offer a unique way to navigate the steep climb back up.

Clovelly Village is a place to slow down, embrace the charm of yesteryear, and soak in the breathtaking coastal scenery. It’s a perfect escape for families, history buffs, and anyone seeking a day trip filled with quaint charm and timeless beauty.


The Milky Way Adventure Park: A Day of Thrills for All Ages

milky way cosmic caterpillar

Unleash your inner child and get ready for a day of exhilarating fun at the Milky Way Adventure Park. Nestled near Clovelly, this award-winning park offers a smorgasbord of activities for the whole family, ensuring a day filled with laughter and unforgettable memories.

The star attraction (pun intended) is undoubtedly the vast array of rides. From heart-stopping rollercoasters like the steel behemoth “Corkscrew” to the family-friendly “Cosmic Caterpillar,” there’s a thrill for every adventurer. Younger children will delight in the dedicated play area with slides, swings, and a soft play zone, while the whole family can take a spin on the exhilarating go-kart track.

But The Milky Way isn’t just about adrenaline – it’s about creating lasting memories. Get competitive with a family game of mini golf, or test your skills in the exhilarating arcade games room. Animal lovers can marvel at the on-site petting zoo, where a menagerie of furry and feathered friends await.

When hunger strikes, a variety of restaurants and cafes offer delicious refreshments to fuel your day of exploration. Whether you crave classic theme park fare or a refreshing ice cream, The Milky Way caters to every taste bud.

The Milky Way Adventure Park is a haven for families seeking a fun-filled day out in North Devon. With its diverse range of activities, thrilling rides, and a focus on creating lasting memories, it’s the perfect escape for all ages.


The Lynton & Lymouth Cliff Railway: A Scenic Ascent Steeped in History

cliff railway lynton

For a unique and scenic experience, take a ride on the Lynton & Lymouth Cliff Railway. This funicular railway, operational since 1890, offers a charming and historic way to ascend the dramatic cliffs connecting the charming villages of Lynton and Lymouth.

The journey itself is an adventure. Climb aboard the brightly coloured carriages and marvel at the breathtaking coastal views as you ascend the steep incline. The meticulously maintained railway, a testament to Victorian engineering, offers a glimpse into the past while providing a comfortable and scenic journey.

Upon reaching the summit, explore the delightful village of Lynton. Wander through its narrow streets lined with independent shops and traditional tea rooms, or take in the panoramic vistas from the Valley of the Rocks, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The return journey down the cliff face offers another perspective of the stunning coastline. Soak in the fresh sea air and capture unforgettable photos as you descend back to the harbor town of Lymouth.

The Lynton & Lymouth Cliff Railway is more than just a mode of transport; it’s a delightful historical experience that complements a day trip exploring these charming coastal villages.


Arlington Court: A Stately Home Steeped in History and Splendor

front of arlington court

Step back in time and immerse yourself in grandeur at Arlington Court, a magnificent National Trust property nestled near Barnstaple. This impressive manor house, dating back to the 14th century, boasts a rich history and offers a glimpse into the lives of the Chichester family who resided here for over 400 years.

Explore the meticulously preserved rooms, each adorned with stunning period furniture, artwork, and tapestries. Wander through the grand halls, marvel at the opulent library, and imagine the lives of those who once called Arlington Court home. Don’t miss the fascinating kitchens, offering a glimpse into the daily workings of a large household in a bygone era.

Beyond the house itself, Arlington Court unfolds a treasure trove of delights. Explore the extensive formal gardens, a masterpiece of horticultural design, boasting colorful flowerbeds, manicured lawns, and tranquil water features. Take a leisurely stroll through the ancient woodlands, spot playful red squirrels darting amongst the trees, and discover hidden follies and temples nestled within the grounds.

Arlington Court also caters to families. Children will be captivated by the interactive exhibits, allowing them to dress up in period costumes and learn about life in a bygone era. The expansive grounds offer plenty of space to run around, while a dedicated play area ensures little ones can burn off energy surrounded by beauty.

A visit to Arlington Court is more than just a historical experience; it’s a journey into a world of elegance, grandeur, and captivating natural beauty. Whether you’re a history buff or simply seeking a relaxing day out in stunning surroundings, Arlington Court promises an unforgettable experience.


Kayak the Exmoor Coast: A Serene Exploration of Hidden Coves – and one of the best days out in North Devon

kayak exmoor

For a unique perspective of North Devon’s stunning coastline, embark on a kayaking adventure along the shores of Exmoor National Park. Glide across tranquil waters, soak in the dramatic scenery, and discover hidden coves inaccessible by land.

Several companies offer guided kayaking tours for all levels of experience. Explore the dramatic coastline near Lynton and Lymouth, marveling at towering cliffs and secluded coves. Paddle through the sheltered waters of Combe Martin Bay, teeming with marine life, or venture further along the coast to discover hidden beaches and secret coves.

Kayaking isn’t just about the journey; it’s about connecting with nature. Keep your eyes peeled for playful dolphins and seals basking on the rocks, and listen to the soothing sounds of the ocean and the calls of seabirds.

For the adventurous, explore hidden caves and rock formations only accessible by kayak. Experienced paddlers can embark on longer journeys, venturing further along the Exmoor coastline and discovering hidden gems.

Kayaking the Exmoor Coast offers a unique and unforgettable way to experience North Devon’s natural beauty. It’s a perfect activity for families, nature lovers, and anyone seeking a peaceful adventure on the water.


Ilfracombe: A Bustling Harbour Town with Victorian Charm

ilfracombe harbour

Ilfracombe, a vibrant harbor town nestled on the North Devon coast, offers a delightful blend of seaside charm, historical intrigue, and a touch of Victorian grandeur. Explore the bustling harbour, a hive of activity with fishing boats bobbing on the water, pleasure cruises offering stunning coastal views, and a variety of shops and cafes lining the quayside.

For history buffs, Ilfracombe boasts a rich past. Explore the imposing Ilfracombe Tunnels, a network of Victorian-era tunnels carved into the cliffs, once used for trade and transportation. Climb aboard the historic Landmark, a former lifeboat now serving as a museum dedicated to the town’s maritime heritage.

Ilfracombe isn’t just about history – it’s a haven for families and beach lovers. The expansive Ilfracombe Beach, with its golden sand and gentle waves, is perfect for building sandcastles, paddling in the shallows, or simply soaking up the sun. Venture further along the coast to discover hidden coves like the picturesque Wilders Cove, accessible via a scenic coastal walk.

When hunger strikes, Ilfracombe offers a diverse array of culinary delights. Sample fresh seafood caught locally in one of the harborside restaurants, indulge in traditional fish and chips, or explore the selection of cafes and restaurants catering to all tastes.

For a touch of excitement, take a trip on the Ilfracombe Princess, a traditional paddle steamer offering exhilarating wildlife cruises. Keep your eyes peeled for playful dolphins, majestic whales, and a variety of seabirds soaring through the sky.

Ilfracombe offers a delightful escape for all ages. Whether you seek a relaxing day at the beach, a delve into the town’s rich history, or a taste of seaside charm, Ilfracombe promises an unforgettable experience.


The Valley of the Rocks: A Landscape Steeped in Legend and Enchanting Beauty

valley of the rocks

Nestled high above the charming village of Lynton, the Valley of the Rocks unveils a dramatic landscape steeped in legend and breathtaking beauty. This designated Site of Special Scientific Interest boasts a unique collection of towering rock formations, known as “tors,” sculpted by millions of years of erosion.

The legend of the valley adds to its charm. Local folklore tells tales of a giant named William who resided here, flinging the tors around in a fit of rage. Explore the “Witches Kitchen,” a cluster of precariously balanced rocks, or climb the “Castle Rock” for panoramic views of the surrounding coastline.

The Valley of the Rocks isn’t just about dramatic scenery – it’s a haven for wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for playful red deer roaming freely amongst the tors, and listen to the melodious calls of a variety of birdsong filling the air.

Several hiking trails wind through the valley, offering varying levels of difficulty. Explore the shorter, family-friendly routes, or challenge yourself with a more strenuous climb for breathtaking vistas. The valley also boasts a charming cafe, a perfect spot to rest your legs and soak in the beauty of the surroundings.

The Valley of the Rocks offers a unique and enchanting escape in North Devon. Explore the dramatic landscape, delve into local legends, and reconnect with nature in this place of timeless beauty.

When you are in this area, check out our guide of things to do in Barnstaple too.

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