Perched on the estuary of the Torridge and Taw rivers on the North Devon coastline, Appledore is a quaint old fishing village with a handful of boats still plying their trade. Take a plastic bag down to the Quay and you can still get fish fresh off the boat when the tide is in.
Narrow cobbled streets, with just a few arts and craft shops among the cafes and local deli, give the visitor a chance to wander freely with limited traffic.
Many of the colourful painted old fisherman’s cottages are now holiday homes for rent, with low beamed ceilings and original chimneys and other features.
Life revolves around the quay and the tides, with annual crabbing competitions, summer carnival and autumn book festival. The North Devon Maritime Museum is a great wet weather distraction.
A two-mile sandy beach just a mile away is perfect for families looking for the original bucket and spade experience of their childhood.
Restaurants and pubs include The Beaver, renowned for serving fresh food fast rather than fast food, the Flame Factory, specialising in burgers, with home-made baps, pizza and steaks, the newly refurbished Royal George, offering gourmet cuisine and The Hanson Memorial Sailors Rest a new Appledore experience specialising in healthy lunches, and limited dinners. Booking essential in the high season for all. Sylvester’s Fish and Chips and Hockings Ice Cream are legendary.
Places to visit include the Dartington Glass Factory at Torrington, where you can tour the factory and watch the glass blowers at work, before purchasing glassware at factory prices in the huge showroom. I defy you to come away without at least one piece of Dartington glass. Open all year round.
Hartland Abbey is a must if you are interested in history. Home of the Stucley family the Abbey and Gardens are steeped in tradition, and house portraits by renowned artists such as Reynolds and Gainsborough. Stroll down to the sea, about 30 minutes away or potter around the glorious gardens (you can shelter in the green house if it rains!) Open from March to October. Filming often takes place here, so watch out for some famous faces.
Carry on to Hartland Quay, have supper in the Wreckers retreat bar, and watch the sun go down over the Atlantic. Magic!
No visit to North Devon is complete without a trip to Clovelly. A privately owned village it sits on the cliff edge overlooking Bideford Bay, and is home to generations of families who have lived there for years. With no motorised vehicles and only a single very steep cobbled street, it traditionally used donkeys and sledges to ferry goods up and down the slope to the sea. Walking down is easy, but there is a single taxi which can bring you back up along an alternative lane if you can’t make the climb back. Wheelchair access is tricky, and disabled people should check with the village first before a visit to see if special arrangements can be made.
If you are feeling active walk, cycle or jog along the Tarka Trail or the coastal path, (several places hire out bikes) or take the ferry which runs at high tide in summer from Appledore to Instow sands. The choice is yours.
Stay at The Seagate Hotel, one of several B&Bs or rent one of the cottages. Go in season for the activity or out of season for the quiet.