North Devon bound
2020 is a strange year that blights the lives of millions.
Owing to the restrictions of air travel, more people than usual flocked to Devon and Cornwall as soon as the lockdown was eased.
Photos of closely packed hordes of revellers on the narrow streets of St Ives in Cornwall or gridlocked roads leading to Devon were enough to make people look for alternative destinations.
However, by travelling via Wells and with my partner’s local knowledge of north Devon (he hails from Bideford), we managed to avoid the crowds and the traffic jams.
The Royal Hotel
We stayed at this hotel before. This Grade A listed building built in the late 1600 has retained its charm whilst providing modern facilities. Its location at the top of Long Bridge makes it very convenient for visitors.
Once the car is parked at the private car park just opposite the hotel, Bideford can be explored on foot. The old railway track behind the hotel is now part of the famous Takar Trail popular with cyclists and walkers.
Bideford does not appear on many lists of “must visit” towns in north Devon populated by places like Clovelly, Ilfracombe, Appledore, Lynton , Lynmouth, Westward Ho! etc.
This makes scenic Bideford a perfect place to spend some time away from the rowdy crowds. Although my partner and I visit this area almost once a year, it never occurred to me to do a blog on Bideford until the relief of being able to travel, albeit in the U.K., made me appreciate it more.
Bideford Long Bridge
Bideford Long Bridge has 24 arches across River Torridge connecting the old town on the left bank with East-the-Water on the right bank. This iconic stone bridge built in the 14th century looks imposing day and night!
Views from Bideford Quay
It’s hard to believe that in the 17th century Bideford was the third largest port in the U.K. There are few signs left of that illustrious past and the only vessel seen at the quay is the infrequent ferry to Lundy Island. There’re flower displays everywhere along the quay
Since the construction of Torridge Bridge (also known as the North Devon link road) in 1987, a lot of the traffic heads straight for Barnstaple, the main town in north Devon. This has rendered Bideford a bit of a backwater.
I was so pleased that we chose to stay in Bideford when we drove past Appledore and saw the narrow coastal road packed with cars on both sides and the eateries teemed with people.
Similarly when we drove past Westward Ho! in the evening, there were people milling around like in a busy supermarket! How tranquil Bideford was by comparison!
Bideford by night
Along the Tarka Trail
We set off on our walk from the back of Royal Hotel on our first morning in the mist. We headed to the right towards Barnstaple
On the second morning the sun came out early when we took the walk to the left towards Great Torrington
Like Bideford, Weare Giffard is not a well known tourist destination. However it’s typical of the small villages in the area, not with particular eye-catching beauty but with relaxing views pleasant to the eyes!!
Northam Burrows Country Park
This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and forms an integral part of North Devon’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It’s a great place to spend at least half a day.
The country park consists a vast expanse of coastal plain with salt marsh, sand dunes, rocky shore and open grasslands stretching across Westward Ho!, Northam and Appledore and overlooking Bideford or Barnstaple Bay (as appears on maps!), obviously depending on where the allegiance lies!
During the low tides, people could walk for miles on the soft sand towards the bay…
… Or go kite-flying!
Sunset at Northam Burrows Country Park – it was unmissable!!