Accommodation in North and Mid Devon
The places to stay listed below have been included either with an eye to their location, because they are special or unusual in some way, or because they encapsulate the Slow approach. Inclusion doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best in the area – just places our authors stayed in, visited or had recommended to them.
When booking a place to stay, bear in mind that most accommodation in North and Mid Devon is cheaper off season or if you stay several nights, and many self-catering places can only be let for four days or more. Campsites run the gamut of possibilities – from a meadow that’s only open in August, to glamping in luxury. Indeed, glamping has become one of the most popular ways of enjoying a rural holiday. Suggestions vary from tree houses to gypsy caravans.
Note that satnav is often unreliable here, and there may not always be a mobile phone signal (indeed, the region is sometimes promoted as ‘screen-free’), so always check the accommodation provider’s directions in advance.
Transport in North and Mid Devon
The Slow traveller prefers to get around under his or her own leg power or by bus, but the latter can be quite a challenge in this region of poor public transport. If you are relying on public transport for any part of your visit in Devon you should check the excellent website traveldevon.info, which has an interactive bus map as us timetables change and buses are being withdrawn with an unnerving frequency.
Exmoor, the home of one of Britain’s most distinctive native ponies, is perfect for riding, but there are stables in other parts of North and Mid Devon which are equally scenic. There are also several accommodation providers, who will also provide a field or stabling for your own horse, so a riding holiday is entirely realistic.
Mike Harrison, compiler of Croydecycle maps, writes: ‘Cycling in North Devon is a pleasure, being far from cities so most of the rural lanes are quiet. The Tarka Trail (NCN3 and 27) on the old railway lines around the Taw and Torridge estuaries is ideal for families and there are other quiet and level lanes around Braunton. Coastal roads can be busy at peak times and often a bike is the quickest way round the narrow lanes but be wary of cars.’
The South West Coast Path (SWCP) is the most popular long-distance national trail in this region. It begins in Minehead and follows the coast, with occasional forays inland, for 124 miles to the Cornish border before completing its 630-mile journey round the Cornwall peninsula to Poole Harbour in Dorset. The North Devon section is considered by many to be the most beautiful, as well as the most challenging, of the entire route. All keen walkers who visit Devon will do parts of the coast path, most utilising the inland footpaths to make a circular trip or doing one of the ‘bus-assisted walks’ suggested in this book. However, there are several inland long-distance footpaths, including the Two Moors Way which runs from Ivybridge on the southern edge of Dartmoor to Lynmouth on the North Devon coast.
There is now an extension to the Two Moor Way that links it to the south coast at Wembury near Plymouth, the whole walk being 117 miles and called Devon’s Coast to Coast. Other paths include the Macmillan Way West from southeast Exmoor to Barnstaple; the Samaritans Way South West, from Bristol to Lynton; and the Coleridge Way from the Quantocks to Lynmouth.