Explore Barnstaple:Barnstaple was once a thriving port trading with America and is possibly the oldest town in the UK having been granted its charter in 930 AD from King Aethelstan - the grandson of Alfred the Great.It has many fine buildings and independent shops, cafes and restaurants, along with a Pannier Market and of-course the famous “Butchers Row”; though there are no longer any butchers on Butchers Row, but instead a good variety of artisan food outlets. With a train station excellent public transport links, a leisure centre, a cinema, and a theatre. Barnstaple is a great place to base yourself when visiting NorthDevon.
Lymouth: Visiting Lynton and Lynmouth is like stepping back in time to a place where the high moors of Exmoor meet the sea.As a child I was always amazed by how the cliff railway was powered entirely by water. As an adult I just think it is pure Victorian genius.There are some great walks from here, take an evening drive back across Exmoor via Challacombe (and a meal at the Black Venus) to have a chance of seeing the famous ponies or even a wild stag.
Say “Hi” to Verity in Ifracombe:Ifracombe has a lovely picturesque harbour overlooked by Damien Hirst’s Verity. Verity is a 20m tall stainless steel and bronze statue; a bit like Marmite, you’ll either like her or hate her, but the only way to decide is to go and see her.Whilst in Ilfracombe don’t forget to visit the Tunnel Beaches (hewn out of the rock by the Victorians to get to the beach), the Aquarium (though small it packs a whole lot of interesting stuff in), and look out for Jonathon Edward’s triple jump world record (incredible), there’s also the numerous galleries, the crazy golf and the two pence waterfalls.
See glass being blown at Dartington Crystal: Visit one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of glass, with over 60 years of tradition and some iconic designs.Over 300,000 pieces are still made in the factory at Torrington today.A visit to Dartington Crystal is great to combine with a visit to the garden at RHS Rosemoor.
Go back in time at Clovelly:Clovelly is a picturesque fishing village that was once owned by Queen Elizabeth, and still remains in private ownership today.This has kept it in a timeless and traffic free manner; donkeys and sledges are used for taking supplies up and down the steep main street.
Cycle on the Tarka Trail:The Tarka Trail is a 180 mile footpath that runs around North Devon, following in the footsteps of Tarka the Otter.About 30 miles of it is pan flat traffic free tarmac on the old railway line running from Braunton to Bideford via Barnstaple.This is great for cycling, and there are several cycle hire shops within half a mile of The Old Vicarage.
You could, for instance, cycle to Instow and catch the ferry to Appledore.Instow is about 6 miles from Barnstaple and a lovely little village with a few pubs, a great deli/café and a beach on the edge of the Torridge estuary with some smaller sand dunes.Time your arrival to be two hours either side of high tide and you can catch the volunteer ferry over to explore Appledore; - a quaint fishing village with a history of shipbuilding, narrow streets, secret garden cafes and hidden galleries and craft shops.Not forgetting of course the world famous Appledore Book Festival each autumn.For the fit amongst you, you can carry on to Bideford and even Meeth!