Nestled on that quiet North Devon coast lies a series of towns, but the most charming of them all? Bideford. Once North Devon’s provincial port, this delightful town with its sloping streets and scenic walkways maintains a quaint countryside culture that sees hundreds of passers-by explore each year.
It’s no wonder you’re going.
Luckily, Bideford is no stranger to a cafe or two. Tucked away in one of Bideford’s many narrow alleyways, is Velvet and Vanilla; a small, highly rated cafe with a diverse breakfast menu. Try their signature maple syrup pancakes, £4.50. And just ten minutes away we can also recommend the well-loved Rock Pool Cafe at Westward Ho. Having just upgraded their amount of seats due to popularity demands, the menu is filled with breakfasty goodies from mango and orange smoothies to classic teas, coffees and mammoth hot chocs. Not forgetting that all-important fry up!
Fearing some slight over-indulgence, it’s time to walk it off with some exercise of the shop-till-you-drop variety. Browse the shop-lined streets, crammed with seaside souvenirs, antique toys, old-fashioned sweet emporiums and custom fashion houses, to name but a few. If the independent shops aren’t to your taste, or you just haven’t satisfied your shopping needs, head down to the Atlantic Village Shopping Outlet for the latest in big, designer and homeware brands.
Now for the thrills. Bideford is home to not one, but an impressive three adventure theme parks. Atlantis Adventure Park promises fun for the family no matter the weather, featuring indoor play-dens, pirate-ship playgrounds, fantastic fair-ground style rides, crazy golf, bowling and more. Make sure you buy tickets online to save 20%; £5.79 for children and £3.29 for adults. And don’t forget the two others – The Big Sheep and The Milky Way adventure parks, located just a stone’s throw away.
After all that activity, it’s lunchtime. Within less than a ten-minute drive, you can find The Pier House, a literal cliff-top venue with a menu inspired by the coastal produce (see their extensive fish menu online), while their bistro dishes serve up new British classics. Spectacular views of Lundy Island. Average mains price; £12.
If the coastal dining gets you all inspired, talk a walk along the old converted railway line Torridge Tarka Trail for classic Devon scenery and banks of wildflowers along the estuary. Hire yourself a bike from tarkabikes.co.uk to explore the trail on two wheels and feel the wind in your hair; adult rate £11.50 for one day’s hire.
You may not know, but Bideford has quite the literary heritage. It’s featured in multiple Henry Williamson novels and was described by author Charles Kingsley as ‘the little white town… which slopes upward from its broad river tide.’ Kingsley set his novel ‘Westward Ho!’ in and around Bideford, a book so popular in the area that the Westward Ho! beach was named in its honour. You can play ‘spot the Kingsley statue’; there’s more than enough to go around! If you’re feeling brave enough, Westward Ho is a great surfing spot and if you’re not? It has many cafes for a relaxing afternoon drink.
Besides the beach, where surfing and beach shops are all the range, carve out some time to sit down with a good book at Victoria Park. Opened in 1912 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s reign, this park boasts gigantic oak trees, bursts of colour, and rose beds dedicated to the late Princess Diana, making for a perfect spring-time stroll.
Last but not least, finish the day in nearby Clovelly, a Devon fishing village that clings upon a 400-foot cliff, dipping down into the sea. Clovelly has been attracting tourists from Bideford with its floral displays and idyllic village charm for decades and is a great place to settle down for an evening meal. Follow the cobblestone to the Red Lion Hotel Harbour Restaurant upon the very shores of Clovelly bay. There you’ll find pub-grub that sets you up for the hike back to the car, though not before checking out the sunset with a cold, local beer. Evening meals served from 6 pm, two course set menu £26.00.