Westward Ho! is named after the Charles Kingsley novel and is the only place in the country to legitimately have an exclamation mark in its name. Easily accessed via the A39, Westward Ho! is ideally situated for summer days on a lovely, safe blue flag beach.
Situated at the southern end of Northam Burrows, the village is very popular with water sport enthusiasts, walkers and beach lovers. The sandy beach is more than two miles long and includes areas for playing in rock pools, building sand castles and sunbathing; it is also nicely sheltered by a pebble ridge and cliffs.
The beach attracts surfers from around the world with a special designated area reserved for those looking to ride the waves. Swimming and other water sports are also available and lifeguards are on duty from May to September. Many shops in the village sell beach gear and surfing lessons are also provided for anyone looking to learn a new skill.
Named in Golf World's Top 100 courses in the world that a golfer must play is The Royal North Devon. Founded in 1864 it is the oldest links club in the country and it is ideally located at Westward Ho!, so getting in a round of golf when staying at Abigail's Cottage couldn't be easier.
Designed by Tom Morris, the course at the Royal North Devon is just as difficult as some of the other famous links courses in the UK, and with its beautiful coastal views, it is also one of the most spectacular to play.
Westward Ho! has a wide range of shops and restaurants. A favourite amongst visitors is The Pier House, which is the only seafront bar and bistro in the village. It is the perfect place to enjoy lunch or dinner, with its views of the ocean some of the best in North Devon. The food is also very good!
Quaint fishermen's cottages line the narrow cobbled streets of Appledore, which is well worth a visit at any time of the year. This lovely seaside village is situated on the estuary where the rivers Taw and Torridge combine. The village has a good array of shops, restaurants and galleries, making it a great place to enjoy a meal and pick up a few souvenirs for friends at home.
Since the early 14th century, Appledore has thrived as a fishing village, and today its shipyard is one of its main focal points along with its quay, where visitors can participate in competitions, fishing trips and even dancing.
Appledore plays host to a wide range of events throughout the year, including a gig race, food and craft market, summer festival, regatta, and of course its famous Book Festival, which attracts some of the country's well-known actors and authors.
There is an abundance of wonderful places to eat in the village. Some that we recommend are The Quay, Appledore Inn and The Beaver Inn. Many of the restaurants serve locally caught fish, as well as meat and vegetarian dishes.
Whilst visiting the village look out for Hockings Ice Cream, it is made locally and is definitely some of the best in the country.
At the River Torridge estuary lies Bideford, one of North Devon's historic towns. Located just a few miles from Northam, the town is the ideal place to visit for shops, banks and restaurants. The picturesque waterfront is a wonderful place to enjoy an evening stroll, and during the day browse the car free streets lined with local artists' galleries and craft shops.
On hot summer days head to the beautiful Victoria Park where you can have a family picnic. The park also has a children's play area with splash pool.
During the summer season the MS Oldenburg ferries visitors from the town's quay to Lundy Island, which lies 22 miles off the North Devon coast. This beautiful island is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to a wide variety of birds, flora and fauna. Walking the island does not take long but the views and wildlife are incredible. You can even end the day with a meal in the island's only pub. The MS Oldenburg also provides evening trips along the River Torridge for those seeking a romantic night sailing beneath the stars.
On the outskirts of Bideford is Atlantic Village, which is home to a range of well-known high street outlet shops, as well as Asda. Atlantis Adventure Park is also located onsite and can be a great place for letting children play safely.
The pretty harbour village of Clovelly is renowned for its steep cobbled street fringed with listed buildings, views of the sea, and, of course, its use of donkeys to transport goods and people.
Descending more than 400 feet to the pier, the village's main street is too steep to allow traffic, and therefore other methods for bringing in food and day-to-day essentials have been developed. First it was donkeys, but now sledges are used.
Clovelly is still privately owned and has only been associated with three families since the 13th century, and each of its buildings that line the cobbled streets has been protected by a listing status. The village has just a few shops to browse, a café and pub, but Clovelly's scenery is incredible with views from Clovelly Court and The Hobby road some of the most memorable. The section of the South West Coastal Footpath that runs from the village to Hartland is also one of the prettiest.
From Easter through to October a Land Rover is available to provide assistance to those not wishing to walk back up the cobbled street, which is steep and can be a little difficult. Village tours are also available and provide an insight into the history and traditions of Clovelly.
The largest town in North Devon is Barnstaple, which has a nice mix of bars, restaurants and shops. As well as the main high street stores, the market town has an array of boutiques and independent shops.
At the heart of the town is the Pannier Market, which is the best place to find local produce sold directly by its creators. Named as one of the country's top food markets, there is a range of fruit, vegetables and pastries to savour. Running alongside the market is Butchers Row, which dates back to the mid-19th century and is home to independent butchers, fish mongers and bakers.
On rainy days, Barnstaple is the best place to visit with its multi-screen cinema showing all of the new films, as well as a few classics. There is also a theatre, whose Christmas panto is always a laugh, and a very good leisure and tennis centre.
Families staying at Abigail's Cottage looking to experience the area from the back of a bike are advised to head to the Tarka Trail, a 30 mile strip of the old railway line that runs between Meeth and Braunton.
From the cottage the easiest place to access the trail is at Bideford, from where you can either head to Barnstaple or Torrington. The route is well maintained and passes through beautiful unspoilt countryside. As it is only shared with walkers the trail is ideal for families with young children as there is no need to worry about cars.
Fun for all the family is guaranteed at The Big Sheep on the outskirts of Bideford. The award winning attraction park has something to offer all ages, from its informative sheep show and horse-whispering to its hilarious sheep racing and duck trials.
Children will fall in love with the lambs at feeding time and there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep them amused for hours, including large jumping pillows, a twister ride, splash zone and piggy pull along ride.
For the adults visiting The Big Sheep, enjoy a spot of locally brewed beer at the Beer Show or relax on one of the swan pedalos floating around the lake; you can even take part in a farm safari from the comfort of a tractor and trailer.