Bideford is a wonderful base for a break in North Devon, perfectly positioned for exploring the lovely Hartland Peninsula, the gob-smackingly beautiful beaches of Croyde and Woolacombe and, thanks to the summer ferry that departs from the town, stunning Lundy Island.
What is there to do in and around Bideford?
Bideford is a gem of a town. With its pretty quay, and lively pub and restaurant scene, it’s a great destination in itself. It’s a place to stroll through, rather than rush, soaking up the town’s commanding position on the Torridge and the stately Victorian and Georgian buildings, many painted white. It’s also a place to shop in. The town boasts a rich variety of independent shops as well as the indoor Pannier Market, which offers shoppers an extraordinary selection of toys, books, fruit and veg, pastries, cakes and preserves, jewellery, games, historic photos and DVDs. And if you’re in the mood for serious retail therapy, the out-of-town Atlantic Village outlet has bargains galore.
Not far out of Bideford, cyclists and walkers have a tailor-made track to enjoy. The Tarka Trail runs along the route of a former railway and offers a level and traffic-free path through gentle Devon countryside. There’s also access in parts for those with limited mobility. For en-route refreshments, you’ll be spoilt at The Yarde Orchard Café. A homely place with wooden floors, tables and chairs and a handful of large Chesterfields to relax in, it’s the ideal stop-off for coffee and a slice of home-made cake. There are also light lunches of baguettes, salads and soups, and a licensed bar serving West Country ales and ciders.
For a different kind of adventure, step aboard the MS Oldenburg for a trip on the high seas (well, Bristol Channel) to Lundy island. The boat leaves three times a week between May and October (with extra crossings in July and August), taking passengers to a truly enchanting place – an island that’s home to rare flora and fauna, as well as puffins, grey seals and Lundy ponies. It’s worth noting that the MS Oldenburg also provides evening cruises from Bideford along the River Torridge.
Where are the best places to eat and drink in Bideford?
With a great selection of pubs, tea shops, cafés, bistros and upmarket eateries, Bideford has more than its fair share of great places to eat, whatever the occasion.
A real destination restaurant, Memories has garnered a great reputation for its contemporary take on English cuisine. Its light and airy interior is the setting for elegantly prepared dishes such as pan-seared fillet of local sea bass on lemon and chive crushed new potatoes, or mouth-watering puds like steamed sticky date and ginger sponge pudding with butterscotch sauce!
More informal but just as popular, Bideford’s brand-new neighbourhood Italian restaurant, The Italian Kitchen, dishes up a small but perfectly formed menu of pasta and pizza favourites (cooked in a stone-baked oven) to residents and visitors, with occasional live music to accompany the meal. A winning formula, as you’ll see from the packed restaurant. Booking advisable!