Barnstaple is the largest town in North Devon situated at the mouth of the Taw estuary, conveniently close to North Coast beaches and Exmoor. The many historic buildings hint at the town’s ancient history. The borough is the oldest in England, and Barnstaple was a Saxon stronghold – the Saxons called their market centre ‘Barum’. Discover more on Barnstaple’s colourful history at the fascinating free entry Barnstaple Museum and at the Grade Listed Heritage Centre on The Strand. Trails and tours available from the centre take in the town’s mix of beautiful Georgian, Victorian and Medieval architecture including the wonderful Guildhall.
Barnstaple with its many shops, bars, restaurants and services is an excellent base affording easy access to the Tarka Trail. You can join the cycling trail at Barnstaple old railway station, then head west towards Bideford on the traffic free path taking in spectacular estuary views enroute. Cycle hire and cycle shops are widely available in the town, and the trail stretch between Barnstaple and Bideford is a gentle 9 miles. A choice of country cottages and B&Bs sit close to the Tarka Trail along this estuary flanking stretch, and in and around the town in the North Devon countryside you’ll a selection of charming B&Bs.
The Pannier Market
Barnstaple is a retail centre in North Devon not just for well known high street shops and services, but also for its many independent boutique shops and great markets. Don’t miss a tour of Barnstaple’s famous Pannier Market on Butcher’s Row which takes place 6 days a week in the town centre. This Pannier Market is one of Britain’s largest indoor markets where you’ll find a fabulous range of antiques and collectables, handmade arts and crafts and bargains. Each market day has a different theme from crafts to antiques and general market days. The Pannier Market also hosts big events during the year including the free entry North Devon Food Fest in October. In September, the annual Barnstaple Fair launches with a ceremonial opening before four days of entertainment including a firework show, a colourful carnival and a fairground.
Broomhill Sculpture Gardens
Broomhill Sculpture Gardens in the Barnstaple area is spread across 10 acres in one of North Devon’s most beautiful wooded valleys. Surrounded by acres of woodland Broomhill has around 300 sculptures by 60 internationally renowned sculptors. Located in an idyllic wooded valley just 2 miles from Barnstaple, Broomhill is the perfect venue for any conference or wedding event. Flexible meeting space is available for large and small meetings and an award-winning restaurant and stunning Art Hotel are onsite. The fully equipped Stable block can accommodate up to 35 guests and the venue is licensed for Civil Wedding Ceremonies, surrounded by stunning woodland and pretty streams – the perfect backdrop for wedding photography. Hotel guests have free entry to the sculpture park inclusive in their stay.
Marwood Hill Gardens
Marwood Hill Gardens sit just 4 miles from Barnstaple and were created in the 1950s. The perfect relaxing day out with on-site Garden Tea Room and plant sales, Marwood Hill is spread across a steep North Devon valley and is famed for its glorious displays of Camellia, Cherry Blossom, Rhododendron and Magnolia.