Places to go in North Devon
Higher Mullacott Farm is wonderfully tucked away in the secluded dip of a valley above Ilfracombe. As well as its quiet setting the cottages also enjoy a great central location, giving guests the chance to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the cottages without being too far from many of North Devon’s popular attractions, including the beautiful golden beaches at Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton and the rural rugged landscape of Exmoor National Park.
Woolacombe (3 miles)
Woolacombe is home to a beautiful golden beach, which runs for almost three miles from Putsborough at the southerly end with colourful wooden beach huts through to Rockham Bay, Mortehoe on the northerly edge. The beach has been awarded several accolades, including the Blue Flag and Premier Seaside Beach awards for its facilities, cleanliness and water quality. Its latest recognition is the 'England for Excellence Gold Award' for best family resort.
You won’t see a speedboat or jet ski in sight as they are prohibited and lifeguards are on duty throughout the summer, thereby offering a safe environment for swimming, surfing, windsurfing and canoeing in a stunning setting.
Woolacombe itself has a warm, relaxed feel to it with great pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and lots of surf and seaside shops. There’s plenty to do for every member of the family here.
A hidden gem in the village can be found during the summer season at Barricane beach, which is a small secluded cove in Woolacombe. Watch the sun set across the bay as you savour some wonderful culinary delights. The small café right on the beachfront is open on various nights from May through to the end of the September and serves authentic Sri Lankan Curries. Make sure you bring your own picnic rug, bottle of wine and candles to make the night even more special.
Mortehoe (3 miles)
Mortehoe is a smaller, tranquil village with stunning cliff-top views located less than a mile from Woolacombe. You will only find a small selection of shops, pubs and restaurants here but it is well worth a visit – buy freshly caught lobsters and crabs or enjoy a cream tea in Heidi’s Tea Rooms.
There is much history here in the village as Mortehoe is listed in the Doomsday Book and has a rare barrel-roofed thirteenth-century church. A visit to Mortehoe Museum will take you back to the days of ‘Old Morte’ when smugglers lured ships onto the rocks.
Much of Mortehoe is part of the Voluntary Marine Conservation Area and is a haven for wild flowers. It is also part of the South West Coast path, so is ideal for walkers. Take a trek up to Morte Point and witness some of the most wonderful views across the North Devon coastline.
Ilfracombe (1 mile)
The Victorian town of Ilfracombe has a great selection of shops, pubs and restaurants, including The Quay Restaurant and White Hart Bar owned by Damian Hirst and located at the pretty harbour. The contemporary artist, who also has a gallery in Ilfracombe, recently donated his 66 foot bronze statue 'Verity' to the town. Representing truth and justice, Verity is on long term loan to Ilfracombe and is standing proudly for all to see over the harbour.
From Easter to the end of October the MS Oldenburg sets sail from Ilfracombe for Lundy Island, the largest inhabited island in the Bristol Channel. Other boats offer trips around the coastline, giving guests the chance to see some of the wildlife and local scenery.
Ilfracombe harbour is also the ideal spot for the fishermen amongst you, with a choice of either fishing from the rugged coastline or off the pier. A selection of deep sea fishing boats also leave the harbour daily.
For entertainment you will find a multi-screen cinema located in the high street with the latest releases showing daily; and the Landmark Theatre on the sea front offers a varied arts and entertainment programme ranging from children’s shows to music concerts.
Tunnels Beaches (2 miles)
A visit to the Tunnels Beaches is a ‘must’ and is only five minute drive from Higher Mullacott Farm Cottages. This unique place is steeped in history where visitors reach the beach via four tunnels hand carved through the rocks in the 1820’s. This Blue Flag beach has a tidal pool, which is popular with children to snorkel or use inflatables in safety. After a visit to the beach you can also enjoy the award winning facilities of the stylish Café Blue Bar and the play hut, which is an indoor soft play area.
The Tunnels is also licensed to hold civil ceremonies and partnerships, and is a stunning location for a perfect wedding. The cottages at Higher Mullacott Farm have welcomed several wedding parties, along with family and friends, in the past few years due to their excellent countryside location and proximity to the Tunnels.
Croyde (8 miles)
The trendy surfing village of Croyde is well worth a visit. In addition to the beautiful sandy beach, which attracts surfers from all over the world, the village is full of ‘chocolate box ‘cottages with thatched roofs, pubs, bistros and classic tea rooms.
For a fun family outing head to Cascades, the only tropical adventure pool in North Devon. With its range of waterfalls, rapids and slides it is guaranteed to keep everyone happy; there is even a Jacuzzi for relaxation.
Braunton (6 miles)
Visit Braunton Burrows and be utterly amazed by the sheer size of Britain's largest sand dune system. The Burrows was given World Biosphere Reserve status by UNESCO, which is a world-class designation making the importance of the area equal to that of other world-wide Biosphere Reserves such as the Danube Delta, the Hawaiian Islands and the Great Gobi. The Burrows have also been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and are the core of the North Devon Biosphere Reserve. The Burrows are home to more than 400 species of wild flowers and 33 types of butterflies.
At the southerly end of the Burrows lies the Crow Point Lighthouse, which guides vessels navigating the Taw and Torridge estuary. It provides a wonderful place for a leisurely stroll, as well as somewhere for bird watching and fishing. At low tide look out for the Pulley Bank, a mile long shingle and mussel bed.
Braunton is also reputedly the largest surfing village in the UK, with many bistros, bars and pubs, surfing museum and small craft shops and beauty salons.
Saunton (8.5 miles)
To the west of Braunton you will find the tiny hamlet of Saunton. Beach lovers and surfers come from all over the world to visit the stunning beach at Saunton Sands, which runs for some 3.5 miles and is sheltered by the Braunton Burrows. Due to the beach's sheer size it rarely feels crowded and is therefore often a good alternative to Croyde and Woolacombe. It also has a beach café, which bakes your Cornish pasty to order while you take a half hour walk along the beach.
Lundy Island lies off the coast of North Devon, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bristol Channel. It is three and a half miles long and half a mile wide, and its inhabitants include some of Devon's most varied wildlife. From birds and sheep to seals and basking sharks, you can see them all at Lundy.
The island is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the seas surrounding it are England's only statutory Marine Nature Reserve. A visit to Lundy has much to offer from walking, bird watching, photography, painting, fishing, climbing, diving and snorkelling. A drink and meal at Lundy's only pub is also a must when paying a visit.
There are regular sailings from Ilfracombe Harbour and Bideford from April to October on the supply vessel M.S. Oldenburg. The voyage across to Lundy is approximately two hours depending on sea conditions.
Lynton & Lynmouth (18 miles)
Two more villages well worth a visit are Lynton and Lynmouth. Nicknamed "Little Switzerland" by the Victorians, the villages are surrounded by beautiful scenery and are where Exmoor dramatically meets the sea.
In Lynton you will find plenty of shops, tea rooms and cafés, as well as a museum; and half a mile west is The Valley of the Rocks, an extremely popular tourist spot for walkers and climbers alike. It is accessible by road or ‘The North Walk’, a stunning, scenic coastal footpath, which begins in the village. During the summer, watch the local cricket team play in the valley on one of the most unique cricket grounds in the country. It may even be possible to spot a few of the local goats or Exmoor ponies, which roam the hills.
Beneath Lynton lies Lynmouth with many traditional fishermen's cottages. Take a walk along the sea front, or, for the more active, there is a putting green and tennis courts. To save your legs and car from experiencing the steep hill, the historic water powered cliff railway links the two villages and is a fun way to travel between Lynton and Lynmouth.
Watersmeet (20 miles)
Whilst in Lynmouth don’t forget to visit the stunning Watersmeet area. The meeting place of the East Lyn river and Hoar Oak Water are part of the North Devon Coast managed by the National Trust.
There are 2,000 acres of Watersmeet and Countisbury to explore, with breathtaking views and a haven for wildlife. Stroll along the riverside at Lynmouth, Combe Park and Rockford or explore the ancient woodlands at Lyn Valley. For a contrast, the South West Coast Path runs along the dramatic Glenthorne Cliffs, towards Devon's most northerly outcrop, Foreland Point. For the more active there is plenty to do from nature walks and fishing to winter canoeing.
Clovelly (31 miles)
No visit to North Devon would be complete without visiting Clovelly, which is within an hour’s drive of Higher Mullacott Farm and is situated just off the A39 that stretches all the way from Devon into Cornwall.
The village has been kept in the style of the mid-19th century and is totally traffic free. A familiar sight will be the donkeys, which traditionally carry goods up the steep hill. Visitors can park at the top of the village and take the tumbling walk down the high street all the way to the tiny working port past whitewashed cottages covered in flowers. But don’t worry, for those who can’t manage such a steep walk back up the hill, there is a fare paying land rover service, which will ferry you via a back road. Clovelly has a modest entrance fee, which contributes to maintaining this special place.
Barnstaple (12 miles)
The large market town of Barnstaple has plenty of shops, ranging from the modern Green Lanes Shopping Centre and lively high street selling well known brands, to the historic Pannier Market offering arts and crafts and local specialists.
Barnstaple also has its own multi-screen cinema and a theatre showing a range of shows from the traditional Christmas pantomime to classic West End productions.
On the outskirts of the town you will find a selection of large supermarkets and a leisure centre complex.
Things to do
Higher Mullacott Farm Cottages are in the perfect position for walkers, with immediate access to some wonderful local coastal walks, including several beautiful circular walks that start inland before joining the South West Coast Path with its breathtaking views.
For a wider range of different walks starting with the car, but not going too far afield, experience the many areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty along the spectacular coastline leading to Cornwall. The International Biosphere Reserve at Braunton Burrows is only a 15 minute drive away.
For something a little more special head to Hartland, a wild and geologically untouched area that has the Walkers are Welcome Accolade, and offers unrivalled scenery, as you take on one of the most rewarding sections of the South West Coast Path. With its deserted beaches, Iron Age hill fort, waterfalls and bluebell woods, the Hartland Peninsula is guaranteed to impress.
In the other direction you will find peace and tranquillity on the hills of the Exmoor National Park. With hundreds of miles of quality footpaths and bridleways, not to mention the magnificent landscapes dramatically varying from moorland and wooded valleys to coastal cliffs, Exmoor is a fantastic place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with nothing but the Exmoor ponies roaming freely across the moor to keep you company.
For the cycling enthusiasts there are plenty of places to hire bikes, and a number of routes to take nearby, including National Route 27 of the National Cycle Network with a link which starts and finishes in Ilfracombe. This route includes two traffic free sections running along the former railway path from Ilfracombe to Willingcott Cross and beside the sea at Woolacombe Sands on the National Trust coastal route.
Alternatively, pick a route along the Tarka Trail, which runs between Braunton and Meeth along the former railway lines of North Devon. The trail was named after Henry Williamson’s classic novel ‘Tarka the Otter’ which was first published in 1927, and is over 30 miles long.
For surf lovers, we have plenty of surfing beaches nearby in Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton. All of these beaches have excellent conditions for surfers with lifeguards on duty from Easter through to the end of September. Wetsuits and boards can be hired locally and there are plenty of surf schools offering lessons for all abilities.
For the less capable surfer, have a go at body or skim boarding, or try your hand at a number of other water sports available locally, including ski-paddling, coasteering, canoeing and sea kayaking. Many of the beaches along the North Devon coastline have different water sports on offer from sailing at Instow to snorkelling and diving at the Tunnels in Ilfracombe.
For a more relaxing pastime Ilfracombe offers fishing from the pier or shore fishing from the rocks around Capstone Hill. Bait can be purchased locally along the harbour or you can bring your own. If you fancy deep sea fishing a number of boats leave the harbour daily, and private boat hire is also available. If you prefer freshwater fishing there are also local lakes and Ilfracombe reservoir.
If horse-riding is your passion you’re in luck. The Mullacott Equestrian Centre is just a five minute walk away and provides rides for the complete beginner to galloping along the beach in an experience you will never forget. The centre has a range of horses available to suit all ages and abilities and excellent staff. If horse-riding is not your thing, Mullacott Equestrian Centre also offers quad biking with wellies, waterproofs and safety equipment provided.
Indoor Wall Climbing
For something a little bit different Rock and Rapid near South Molton has an indoor climbing wall to challenge all the family, and fully trained friendly staff who will tailor the sessions to the individual or group taking part. Open seven days a week, Rock and Rapid also has its own café and shop.
Anyone for Tennis? Green Flag Award winning Bicclescombe Park, a 5 minute drive from the cottages, has seven tennis courts and a pavilion with private lessons offered, and an annual tournament in July, which is attended by people from all over the country. This beautiful park has many additional features including a restored corn mill with tea rooms and picnic area and children’s play area.
Further indoor and outdoor tennis courts can be found at the Tarka Tennis Centre in Barnstaple.
There are five golf courses, all within a half hour's drive of Higher Mullacott Farm. These varied courses, which enjoy fantastic views of the coast and countryside, include Ilfracombe, Willingcott Valley, Mortehoe, Barnstaple and Saunton Sands. A little further afield at Westward Ho! is The Royal North Devon, the oldest links course in the country.