Things to do in North Devon
There is an abundance of things to do in North Devon no matter the time of year.
Here at Calvert Exmoor in Devon, we provide a wide range of activities for people with disabilities, ensuring everyone can make some wonderful memories and enjoy the local area.
Whether you’re in the area for a day, are looking for holiday inspiration, or are planning on staying at Calvert Exmoor for a residential activity break, there are some great things you can get up to.
Browse our guide to discover what to do in North Devon and Exmoor.
Exmoor National Park
Exmoor National Park is a stunning place to spend time. The picturesque landscape consists of rolling moorland and wooded areas and is home to roaming ponies, red deer and postcard-worthy beauty spots.
Exmoor is one of the smallest national parks in the UK, so the area is easy to explore on foot and by car.
Whilst exploring, it is likely Exmoor ponies will make an appearance. Sadly, these adorable animals are endangered, so though they roam free, they are well looked after. These ponies can be seen on the moors, often crossing the roads as they please.
If a pony sighting inspires you to try horse riding, discover the horse riding activities available at Calvert Exmoor.
Visit these places to experience what Exmoor has to offer:
Wistlandpound Reservoir is located right beside our activity centre and although it may be just outside the national park, it is a popular attraction for those who enjoy walking through nature.
The paths zig-zag their way around the water and through the woods. Whatever the time of year or weather, this is a beautiful place to escape the real world for a few hours.
If you want a more exhilarating way of exploring these paths, take a look at our cycling activities which also take place on the routes around the reservoir.
In the middle of a valley lies a historic clapper bridge made of large stone slabs and boulders. At 55 metres long, Tarr Steps is the longest bridge of its type in Britain, possibly dating back to the Bronze Age.
Technically, Tarr Steps is in Somerset, but seeing as it’s not far from North Devon we’ll include it in our list of sights to see!
The bridge forms a part of a short circular walk through the wooded valley and along the riverbanks – it’s a popular location for a reason. Taking a stroll across such a distinctive landscape is a must.
Similar to Tarr Steps, Watersmeet is a spot where you can see rapid rivers at the bottom of a valley. Named after its confluence, Watersmeet features waterfalls and paths along the sides of the river, plus routes around the surrounding area.
Regarding local fauna, the river is home to otters and salmon. Look inland for red deer, herons, wood warblers and jays. There is also a National Trust tearoom, providing a place to relax amongst the surrounding vista.
Valley of Rocks
Found near the village of Lynton along the Exmoor coastline, the Valley of Rocks is a prominent tourist destination for families and walkers to enjoy the stunning views. Wild goats roam the steep hills and stone towers that rise sharply into the sky in this dry valley.
Paths loop around the area, providing views of the sea and cliffs that make for stunning photographs.
Great Hangman – England’s Highest Cliff
Near the small seaside resort of Combe Martin in North Devon lies the Great Hangman, the highest cliff in England.
Combe Martin is just 10 minutes from Calvert Trust Exmoor and has parking spaces available for you to begin your venture. Then you can walk along the coast and ascend to a height of 1,044 feet.
The incline may be tricky, but the views of the surrounding moors and cliffs are worth the hike.
The highest point on Exmoor and the second-highest point in southern England, Dunkery Beacon is 1,704 feet above sea level.
On a sunny day, it’s possible to get vast views of the Bristol and English Channels, the Brecon Beacons in Wales, Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, Dartmoor in Devon and even Cleeve Hill — which is nearly 90 miles away in Gloucestershire.
The beacon is found in the remote heart of Exmoor, surrounded by barren but beautiful moors — luckily the car park is just half a mile away from the peak!
As you can see, Devon has some of the most incredible countryside scenery in the UK, but some of these spots might be slightly trickier to access for some people.
There are still plenty of ways for everyone to enjoy the natural wonders of the area. Make the most of your holiday by taking a look at all the wheelchair-friendly trails in North Devon in our blog below.
Popular North Devon Tourist Attractions
North Devon is home to many family-friendly attractions which are perfect for quick visits or complete days out.
Here are some top North Devon places that are worth a visit:
Quince Honey Farm
The home of honey and bees, Quince Honey Farm is around 20 minutes from the Calvert Exmoor centre in South Molton.
This quaint family attraction provides beekeeping courses and experiences, guided tours, honey tasting, candle rolling, critter encounters for children and more. There’s also a play area and a restaurant to round your visit off.
This conservation zoo is home to a wide range of animals such as wolves, cheetahs, African wild dogs, bugs, snakes, monkeys, kangaroos, and many varieties of cats — including the famous ‘Exmoor Beast’: black leopards!
Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park
This is another family-friendly zoo — with the added twist of electronic dinosaurs! These animatronic displays provide an opportunity for both an educational and exciting experience.
Regarding the real animals, they include lions, penguins, wolves, monkeys, Amur leopards, sea lions (who do daily shows), and more! In addition, the site features an indoor soft play area for younger children.
Built in the early 19th century, Arlington Court is a National Trust property with a neoclassical country house, formal gardens, a carriage museum and acres of land to explore.
The grounds are open all year round for walkers — excellent for dog owners — with paths that go past lakes, through forests, and fields where deer are known to forage.
The Big Sheep and The Milky Way Adventure Parks
These two theme-park attractions are each a day out for all ages. They both have indoor and outdoor play areas, rides, live shows, games, and family entertainment.
A visit to The Big Sheep includes cuddly animals and fun sheep racing.
Meanwhile, The Milky Way has a space theme with bumper cars and a fun ninja family area.
The village of Clovelly is a unique landmark as a working fishing village with no cars and old-fashioned cobbled streets that tumble down the hill to the harbour.
A trip here starts at the visitor centre where the main path will take you to a bygone era of old houses, shops and museums which will then lead to the sea below. Donkeys once pulled carts up the hill, but these days, donkeys enjoy the easy life, living in the stables and meeting passers-by.
Retreat to an idyllic haven at some of the most beautiful gardens North Devon has to offer.
Marwood Hill Garden
Tucked away in a quiet valley near Barnstaple, the 20-acre land at Marwood Hill Gardens is made up of three ponds surrounded by a collection of plants and trees. It features a cafe for the family to retreat to at the end of their walk. Marwood is a lovely haven to relax and enjoy nature.
Just outside Torrington is the RHS Garden Rosemoor, a year-round attraction for the whole family. There are beautiful formal and informal flower beds and plantings, separated into many different gardens, alongside woodlands and meadows.
Castle Hill Gardens
Home to the 15th generation of the same family, Castle Hill is a grand building that dominates the hill it sits on. The 50 acres of gardens and parklands that surround it are open to the public, made up of woodland and formal gardens maintained by the family since 1730.
Villages and Towns to Explore and Shops in North Devon
From cosy, quaint villages to large bustling towns, you’ll find a friendly place to spend time wherever you go in North Devon. We’ve listed just a few of the most popular here, but there are many more to be found, and some hidden gems tucked away:
Lynton and Lynmouth
Lynton is perched at the top of a hill whilst Lynmouth sits below. They are connected by a 130-year-old Cliff Railway — the world’s highest and steepest water-powered railway. Lynmouth has a stone beach with a dramatic coastline and a pleasant seaside town feel.
Known as the gateway to Exmoor, South Molton is a small, historic market town. Dog friendly and laid back, this is a perfect family getaway location.
The unofficial ‘capital’ of North Devon, Barnstaple is the place to be if you miss the creature comforts of urban life and want to peruse popular high-street brands and independent retailers.
The seaside town of Ilfracombe has a little bit of everything; shops and restaurants, family attractions, striking coastal views, rock pools and beaches. The picturesque harbour is the focal point of the town where the iconic St. Nicholas chapel overlooks the modern statue of Verity by Damien Hurst — the second tallest statue in the UK.
Beaches in North Devon
Looking for a long sunny day on the beach? Or want to blow the cobwebs away with a walk by the sea during the winter months?
If you want to know how accessible beaches in North Devon are, check out our blog below:
North Devon beaches are always worth a visit, whatever the time of year. They are popular because of good surfing conditions, long golden sandy beaches and the stunning surrounding countryside.
Some dominate the landscape whilst others are small, secret and hidden away. These are some of the seaside areas you could visit:
Saunton Sands is a classic beach, with blue seas, scenic dunes, and three and a half miles of sand that disappear into the horizon. Facilities include a large car park, café and beach shop for a full day out.
Lifeguards are on duty for most of the year, making it a safe place to swim, surf or play on the beach.
Woolacombe beach is a multi-award winning location for holiday destinations. Like Saunton Sands, there is a long expanse of sand and sea, with lifeguards, shops and facilities.
The beach is backed by the village of Woolacombe which has additional shops and restaurants.
Croyde is another sandy beach, popular with surfers and sunbathers alike.
This spot is perfect for rock-pooling as it’s set in a small bay with rocks on either side of the sand. Facilities are on-site with lifeguards in summer. There are coastal walks to the nearby Croye village and around the bay.
Speaking of surfing, Calvert Exmoor gives everyone the chance to have some fun with watersports. If you’re not convinced, discover the benefits of surfing for people with disabilities to enhance your break.
For something different, discover Broad Sands beach. This beach is not a well-known one, it’s a secret gem that many locals wish to keep to themselves.
Broad Sands is a small cove hidden on the coast of Exmoor — and it’s an adventure to get to. This place can’t be reached by road; instead, you have to park at the top of the cliff and take a 200 step path down to the sand.
The path winds through the woods and offers spectacular views. Once on the sand, the beach is quiet, remote, picturesque, and perfect for a swim.
Ilfracombe Tunnels Beaches
Found in the town of Ilfracombe, the Tunnels Beaches are a unique area.
Originally a Regency-era bathing bath, the shingle beach has a ringed rock formation that creates a natural swimming pool with the rocks separating the still water from the sea.
Getting to the beach requires walking through the large hand-carved tunnels of the cliff. There you can find calming pools to swim in.
Tunnels Beaches has Blue Flag beach status and the Quality Coast Award. There’s no need to worry about safety as Tunnels Beaches has a lifeguard on duty and is listed as the safest beach in North Devon.
Accessible Activities in North Devon
At Calvert Exmoor, we’re passionate about delivering accessible activities for people of all abilities. There are wonderful areas to explore in North Devon, but not everywhere is adapted for the needs of people with disabilities.
We provide a range of activities for disabled people with specialist equipment to make your holiday both safe and fun! Take a look below at some of the opportunities we provide:
Our archery sessions have a wide range of bows, techniques, and targets to discover! This popular activity is a relaxed way of developing self-esteem and is great for group bonding.
A challenge course is a fantastic way of encouraging people with disabilities to overcome obstacles in new ways. The challenge course activity is cleverly designed to not be too demanding but still provide just enough difficulty and fun for a real sense of achievement.
Many people with disabilities don’t get to feel involved in daring activities. Giving them the chance to glide through the air on our giant swing will be a delightful sensory experience.
Each activity has adapted equipment for various needs and qualified instructors will supervise these sessions to maximise enjoyment and safety. Seize your chance to experience thrilling adventures with the whole family!
We’ve touched on just some of the many things to do in North Devon, there are plenty more places and attractions to discover!
A break with us provides the perfect opportunity for you to visit all these remarkable locations. Our fully accessible accommodation is the ideal place to stay for an activity break, designed with accessibility in mind for people of all abilities.
Stay for a weekend, Monday to Friday, or for seven days and you’ll have time to visit some of the places we’ve mentioned, in between doing exciting inclusive activities.
For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team! We look forward to welcoming you for a North Devon break soon.