Bideford is a historic market town alongside the River Torridge with a beautiful quayside and bustling Pannier Market. Brimming with character little shops lining its narrow streets, and offering one of North Devon’s best choice of inns, stylish cafes and restaurants, the town is a popular base for short breaks and holidays. It sits very close to picturesque fishing village Appledore and the Blue Flag sandy beach at Westward Ho!, popular for swimming, surfing and windsurfing. The town, which was once one of Devon’s major ports, is also great for a walking and cycling holiday, offering easy access onto the Tarka Trail and the South West Coast Path. Fantastic Adventure Centres are also here in the Bideford area with onsite assault courses and mountain biking, plus a range of water sports and activity excursions on the North Coast including surfing, coasteering, mountain boarding and more – perfect for families and groups.
Arts, crafts and antiques shopping features around pretty Butchers Row, Market Place and The Pannier Market. The town also sits close to family attractions The Big Sheep and The Milky Way Adventure Park with indoor adventure play area, rides, a toddler town, crafts and roller coasters. Top retail experience, Atlantic Village Shopping Outlet, is also just west of the town. Bideford Bay, Westward Ho!, and the spectacular Hartland coastline with its miles of unspoilt rugged cliffs are popular for year round coastal walking breaks. This magnificent coastline has inspired many including the authors Rudyard Kipling and Charles Kingsley who referred to Bideford as his ‘Little White Town’. Bideford is also one of two main departure points for boat trips to off shore Lundy Island. Regular sailings run on MS Oldenburg from the end of March to October. Private charter from Bideford to Lundy, as well as scenic cruises towards Appledore are are also available from the quayside.
Burton Art Gallery & Museum
Art lovers and families alike won’t want to miss a tour of the free entry Burton Art Gallery and Museum in Bideford, one of the South West’s leading cultural venues, home to the precious RJ Lloyd ceramic collection, a Bideford artefacts exhibition upstairs and The Ackland and Edwards Collection of watercolours, drawings and depictions of particularly local North Devon landscapes. You can purchase outstanding contemporary art and craft pieces made by UK artists in the Craft Gallery and Bideford Tourist Information Centre is also located inside, with an information desk at the main gallery entrance.
Butchers Row & The Pannier Market
Beautiful Bideford is an old Devon market town with a historic Pannier Market and old Butchers Row lined with 24 undercover craft shops and studios selling a wide range of gifts, arts and crafts from stained glass to slipware jugs by Harry Juniper. More great shopping can be found at Market Place on Grenville Street – a row of 7 shops which retain their Victorian frontage with huge large windows, and sell a range of products including antiques and collectables.
The Milky Way Adventure Park & The Big Sheep
Fun family all weather attractions sit around Bideford. The Milky Way Adventure Park is just off the A39, only a few minutes’ drive west of the town. The attraction features live falconry and magic shows, a range of indoor and outdoor play zones and roller coasters here are the longest, fastest and tallest coasters in Devon! Other popular family attractions in the area include The Big Sheep in Abbotsham village on the edge of Bideford where you can watch sheep racing, visit the Country Life Brewery, enjoy a wide range of rides and meet a variety of farm animals from pure bred collie puppies to pygmy goats. Both attractions are two of Devon’s top fun days out for families.
Boat Trips to Lundy Island
Bideford is one of two North Devon coastal locations where you can pick up a boat trip across to Lundy Island. The granite island outcrop just 3 miles long offers a host of outdoor activities and birdwatching/ wildlife opportunities including viewings of the island’s famous puffins and seals. A ferry service runs regularly from Bideford aboard the MS Oldenburg to Lundy situated around 18 miles off shore. Journey time is just under two hours. The comfortable and spacious MS Oldenburg holds up to 267 passengers and has an on-site licensed bar and buffet, a shop, toilets, heated saloons and an information point.
Tarka Trail & South West Coast Path
Walk or cycle along the Tarka Trail which follows the path of a disused railway line and passes through Bideford. You’ll be taking the same journey as Tarka the Otter in the famous novel by Henry Williamson! The traffic free Bideford to Torrington section runs up the Torridge Estuary, with the river to your left. The riverbank around the Beam Aqueduct is depicted in Williamson’s novel as Tarka’s birthplace. The South West Coast Path flanking Bideford Bay is where you’ll find some of North Devon’s most dramatic coastal walking, particularly around Hartland Point. The three mile walk from Hartland Quay to Hartland Point affords wonderful views across to Lundy Island!