Devon Towns & Villages

Woolacombe, Saunton & Croyde

The area to the north of the Taw and Torridge Estuary is famous for its golden sands and quaint coastal cottages… and for good reason. The beaches really are sensational, with lots of facilities for the family, lifeguard cover in season and plenty of space. Saunton is home to the fabulous (and unique) dunes and field systems of Braunton Burrows, whilst Croyde is famed among surfers all over the world. Woolacombe is a proud Victorian resort with a brilliant, safe beach, good restaurants and more than a few licks of Devon ice cream to go round.

Ilfracombe, Berrynarbor & Combe Martin

There’s a new girl in town and she’s causing quite a stir among visitors staying in holiday cottages in Ilfracombe. Verity, Damien Hirst’s gloriously female 60-foot high sculpture, now guards the entrance to the stunning natural harbour. She’s a great reason to visit the port and revel in its Victorian splendour. A little up the coast and it couldn’t be more different. Berrynarbour is the winner of many awards because it couldn’t be more like Devon if it tried. It also has the advantage of a lovely cove nearby and the busy little village of Combe Martin just a short drive away. Combe Martin has a fabulous beach, a hidden cove and a whole lot of high street to stroll down (it’s the longest in England, so they say).

Exmoor, Lynmouth & South Molton

If you like space, this is the place to come. Exmoor’s open spaces are a joy at any time, but on clear nights it’s just you and the stars. So step outside your country cottage and take a look up. The UK’s first official Dark Sky Reserve has got a remote magic all of its own. At its northern edge you’ll find the pretty port of Lynmouth and its twin town Lynton, a duo worth a visit if you like walking and cream teas. You won’t find better of either anywhere else. To the south it’s all about the market in South Molton, a charming country town with great connections and stunning countryside. It’s a great place to find some peace and quiet.

Barnstaple, Braunton & Instow

Barnstaple is North Devon’s principal town. It’s got a modern high street – and all the names that go with it – but an old fashioned heart such as the fabulous Pannier Market, a traditional covered market that springs to life every day of the week. It’s perfectly situated to enjoy North Devon’s cultural life and has bars, restaurants, a theatre and galleries. A few miles along the north bank of the River Taw will bring you to Braunton, the gateway town to Devon’s most popular beaches, whilst a drive along the south bank will bring you to the pretty place where it meets the Torridge, the genteel and very lovely Instow. The beach here is fantastic and dogs love it – as will you!

Appledore, Westward Ho! & Torridge

The Torridge rises near to the Cornish border and flows through delightful countryside until it meets the sea at Appledore, a quaint fishing village with a strong community, lots of fresh fish, brilliant sailing and some of Devon’s best quayside crabbing. The narrow streets of brightly painted houses hide pretty coastal cottages and quaint waterside retreats. Over the hill towards the sea, Westward Ho! is home to ultra-modern apartments on the water as well as cosy cottages. The beach here seems to go on forever. It’s a wonderful walk from the village to the estuary and back.

Hartland, Clovelly & Buck Mills

The Hartland Peninsula, which includes the tiny seaside villages of Clovelly and Bucks Mills, is a quiet and tranquil corner of North Devon. It might not have the sandy beaches (unless you go at low tide) but that’s always been to its advantage. The coast path is spectacular, the geology stunning and the countryside wild and woolly. In between there are pockets of loveliness, like Clovelly, a private village with steep cobbled streets and oodles of old world atmosphere. There’s always something going on in the harbour too, whether it’s a sea shanty festival or just a fine pint on sun warmed stones. Bucks Mills is a smaller version, with thatched cottages almost tumbling to the sea and a great rock pooling beach beneath.