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Activities & Things to do Nearby

The Beaches

North Devon's coastline is famous for its golden beaches, perfect for families, friends and water-sport enthusiasts. Woolacombe was recently named as the best beach in the UK by TripAdvisor, and has won numerous other awards that recognise its cleanliness, safety, and, of course, its beauty. Backed by sand dunes and a lively village, Woolacombe is a great beach day out for all.

Just a little further along the coast is Croyde, with one of the best surfing beaches in the world. The pretty chocolate box village is a great place to spend the day with time spent on the beach or wandering about the shops. Next door to Croyde is Saunton, a sweeping golden beach that is perfect for building sandcastles and paddling in the shallows. Saunton is backed by the Braunton Burrows, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Saunton Sands Other beaches in the area include Instow, where you can watch the sail boats in the Torridge Estuary, Westward Ho! with its pebble ridge, and the Tunnels in Ilfracombe, a privately run beach that has a sea lido suitable for inflatables.

Smaller coves can make great alternatives to the larger more recognised beaches. Discover the beauty of Lee Bay in Fuchsia Valley, or enjoy the peace and quiet of Woody Bay near Lynton.

North Devon's coastline is famous for its golden beaches, perfect for families, friends and water-sport enthusiasts. Woolacombe was recently named as the best beach in the UK by TripAdvisor, and has won numerous other awards that recognise its cleanliness, safety, and, of course, its beauty. Backed by sand dunes and a lively village, Woolacombe is a great beach day out for all.

Just a little further along the coast is Croyde, with one of the best surfing beaches in the world. The pretty chocolate box village is a great place to spend the day with time spent on the beach or wandering about the shops. Next door to Croyde is Saunton, a sweeping golden beach that is perfect for building sandcastles and paddling in the shallows. Saunton is backed by the Braunton Burrows, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Saunton Sands Other beaches in the area include Instow, where you can watch the sail boats in the Torridge Estuary, Westward Ho! with its pebble ridge, and the Tunnels in Ilfracombe, a privately run beach that has a sea lido suitable for inflatables.

Smaller coves can make great alternatives to the larger more recognised beaches. Discover the beauty of Lee Bay in Fuchsia Valley, or enjoy the peace and quiet of Woody Bay near Lynton.

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The Towns and Villages

As well as beautiful beaches, North Devon has an abundance of wonderful towns and villages all offering something different from the period charm of Clovelly to the bustling high street in Barnstaple.

Only 10 miles from Kentisbury and Ford Hill Cottage is Ilfracombe, a Victorian seaside town. In the past few years, Ilfracombe has once again become a haven for North Devon's visitors, with contemporary artist Damien Hirst opening a gallery and restaurant in the town.

Ilfracombe's harbour is a lovely place to enjoy a light lunch or cream tea, with traditional tearooms scattered along the street and selling locally sourced products, including fresh fish and homemade cakes. Also, in Ilfracombe is the contemporary Landmark Theatre, a quaint high street cinema and a very good aquarium.

From Ilfracombe hop on board one of the boats setting sail for Lundy Island or heading off for a cruise around the North Devon coastline. This is a wonderful way of seeing the area from a different perspective; you may even see some of the local sea life, including dolphin and seals.

Barnstaple is also only a 10 mile drive from Kentisbury and is North Devon's largest town, offering a wide range of shops, banks, supermarkets and restaurants. The busy high street is home to well-known brands, as well as a few independent stores, and its historic Pannier Market is a great place to pick up local products. Barnstaple also has a great leisure centre, multi-screen cinema, bowling alley and theatre.

For somewhere a little more relaxed head to the pretty villages of Lynton and Lynmouth. These cosy villages in the Exmoor National Park are linked via a steep road, as well as the Cliff Railway, which is run purely on the power of water and gravity.

Lynton sits at the top of the hill and has some incredible views that stretch all the way to Wales on a clear day. The village has a vibrant atmosphere with plenty of tearooms and small shops.

Just beyond Lynton is the Valley of the Rocks, where a herd of goats are often seen roaming the hills. Cricket is also played within the Valley, and Mother Meldrum's tearooms is one of the best in the local area.

Lynmouth, fondly nicknamed Little Switzerland by the Victorians, is known for surviving a horrible flood in 1952, which changed the makeup of the village. Today, the village provides a relaxed and peaceful environment for its visitors with art galleries to browse, tearooms to savour and boat trips on offer around the coast. The village is also an excellent starting point for numerous walks, including those to Watersmeet and Exmoor.

Some of the other nearby villages and towns worth visiting include Appledore with its seaside restaurants and creative atmosphere, and Clovelly, a traffic free character village with cobbled street and pretty working harbour.

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Exmoor National Park

Covering more than 250 square miles, the Exmoor National Park is a unique area made up of moorland, valleys, farmland and woodland. Not only is Exmoor a great place to spot wildlife and admire the views, it is also a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic or meal in one of the many traditional pubs and tearooms.

Whether you are looking for an adventure or peace and quiet, Exmoor has the answer. Activities available within the National Park include walking, cycling, horse riding, climbing and canoeing. Stargazing is also becoming increasingly fashionable with the park's velvet black skies offering viewers the chance to see amazing constellations.

Within the borders of Exmoor there are also numerous villages and areas of interest. Dunkery Beacon is the highest point on Exmoor and has breathtaking 360 degree views of the National Park, Great Hangman near Combe Martin has the highest cliffs in Britain, and Tarr Steps has one of the oldest clapper bridges.

The South West Coast Path

Exploring North Devon on foot? There is no better way than via the South West Coast Path. With a range of easy, moderate and challenging walks, the well maintained path has something to offer all walkers.

Some of the easier, more family friendly walks in the local area, include Holdstone Down near Combe Martin, Lantern Hill in Ilfracombe and Heddon's Mouth near Parracombe. Alternatively, walk the coastline around Putsborough, Fremington and Porlock.

The South West Coast Path offers walkers a chance to see incredible photographic views, as well as plenty of wildlife. With each visit to North Devon complete another section of the path and discover something new.

Find a walk to suit you on the South West Coast Path website.

Water-Sports

North Devon's beaches offer the perfect playground for those seeking an adventure in the water.

Woolacombe and Croyde are havens for surfers with waves suitable for beginners and those with more experience. If this is your first time hitting the waves, why not take part in one of the many surfing lessons available at the beaches.

For wind or kite surfing, Westward Ho! is one of the best beaches in the area with a great sea breeze creating the perfect conditions. Sea kayaking is also available across the three mile long beach. And, at the nearby Instow beach, sailing is accessible.

Ford Hill's nearest beach, Combe Martin also offers a range of water based activities, including kayaking, and at Watermouth Bay, jet skis can be hired.

To experience a choice of water-sports with fully qualified onsite staff, Skern Lodge near Bideford offers a safe environment for families looking to experience a number of water-sports, including powerboat riding, kayaking, surf skiing and rafting.

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Golf Courses

Located within North Devon's beautiful countryside are several excellent golf courses. At Westward Ho! the Royal North Devon, which was founded in 1864 is reputed to be the oldest golf course in the country, and has a course that has regularly been ranked in the world's top 100 golf courses.

Nearer to Ford Hill Cottage are the courses at Ilfracombe, Mortehoe and Willingcott. Situated within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, these courses offer breathtaking views and challenging shots.

For a more memorable round of golf, Saunton has two stunning championship courses, which are listed as some of the best in the country.

Horse Riding

Horse riding is a wonderful way to see North Devon. Many stable yards in the area provide treks across Exmoor, and a few even offer beach rides.

In Ilfracombe, the Mullacott Equestrian Centre helps provide a horse riding experience for everyone, from beginners in need of confidence, to experienced riders seeking the exhilaration of galloping through the waves at Woolacombe. Roylands in Croyde also offers a similar range of rides to suit all abilities.

Featured on Blue Peter, the Woolacombe Riding Stables is a British Horse Society registered yard and Pony Club approved equestrian centre. Situated on the edge of the village its guests can ride over 200 acres of the local countryside, as well as experience beach rides.

A little closer to Ford Hill is the Dean Riding Stables, which is a traditional stable yard within the Exmoor National Park. Catering for all ages, Dean provides rides out over Exmoor and along the coastal bridleways.

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Cycling

There are some excellent cycle routes to be discovered in North Devon. Whether you are setting off around the country lanes or heading to one of the designated routes, you are guaranteed to see the beauty of the local area.

Cyclists on the Tarka Trail Off road routes, like the Tarka Trail, are ideal for families with young children. For 32 miles cyclists, runners and walkers follow the old railway line heading from Braunton to Barnstaple and on to Meeth. This section of the trail is relatively flat and free of traffic, making it a great route for beginners.

For the more experienced cyclist, Exmoor and the country lanes around Lynton and Lynmouth provide a worthy challenge.

Bikes can be hired locally at the Tarka Trail Cycle Hire in Barnstaple and Otter Cycle Hire in Braunton. Please note, due to the popularity of cycling in North Devon it is a good idea to book bikes in advance.

Arlington Court

The National Trust managed Arlington Court is only a five minute drive from Ford Hill and is a wonderfully evocative place to visit no matter what the season. The Regency house was owned by the Chichester family for more than 500 years and has a magnificent collection of treasures spanning several generations.

One of the highlights of Arlington Court is its Carriage Museum located in the stables. The collection of carriages is one of the largest in the country and showcases a carriage to cater for all occasions. The latest addition is the Speaker's State Coach on loan from the Houses of Parliament.

Other attractions at Arlington Court include its 20 miles of footpaths weaving through magical woods and alongside pretty lakes, an attractive Victorian garden and a lovely tearoom.

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Exmoor Zoo

Opened in 1982, Exmoor Zoo on the outskirts of the National Park is forever changing, so each visit is unique. The friendly park, which lies just a short drive from Kentisbury allows you to get up close to the animals, and to join in with any handling sessions.

At the zoo activities are run almost every half an hour and feature everything from meeting a bird-eating spider to feeding baby wallabies. Animals at the zoo are from around the world and include the Exmoor Beast (black leopards), cheetahs, wolves, monkeys and singing dogs. Many of the species found at Exmoor Zoo cannot be seen in other UK zoos, so make sure you pay them a visit when staying at Ford Hill.

Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park

The Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park is set within a beautiful 28 acre estate, and lies only five miles from Ford Hill Cottage. Home to some of the world's most endangered animals, as well as a display of full-sized animatronic dinosaurs, the park offers both an entertaining and educational day out for all ages.

The park is one of only two in the UK to feature the White Hudson Bay wolves; it also has a thrilling sea lion show and an interesting tropical house. The onsite dinosaur museum is also worth exploring with one of the world's largest collections of genuine dinosaur eggs.

Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park Attractions at the park include an express train ride, underground tombs, a large indoor play area and much, much more.

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Watermouth Castle

Overlooking Watermouth Cove on the outskirts of Combe Martin is the pretty Watermouth Castle. Offering a magical experience for families, the castle is a great place to enjoy a day out with the kids.

The great hall on arrival features suits of armour, and downstairs there is a labyrinth of dungeons. Browse the pretty craft shops or play on the arcade games before watching the underground Water Show Extravaganza.

Set within beautiful gardens Watermouth Castle has a wonderful array of outdoor attractions. Play with the jumping fountains, watch the floating marble, play crazy snooker or get lost in the maze.

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The Big Sheep

Winner of the South West's Favourite Family Entertainment Park, as well as holder of the Gold Award for Devon's Large Attraction, The Big Sheep is widely recognised as a guaranteed fun filled family day out.

The Big Sheep provides entertainment for all ages. Watch the famous sheep racing, admire the horse whisperers or laugh at the dog and duck trials. There are even dancing sheep!

After watching one of the many hilarious shows, head to one of the play areas where there is a selection of slides, tumble towers and a ginormous indoor play area. Outside there is water zorbing, mountain boarding and a combat zone complete with laser guns.

For younger children The Big Sheep provides farm safari rides, a family splash zone, baby lamb feeding and jumping pillows; and in the winter there is a toboggan and ice skating rink.

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