Devon – avoiding the crowds

Location: North Devon UK.
Famous for:  Surfing, the moors and a beautiful coastline.

When to go: Summer is always busy, but still the best time to go.

Devon is a gorgeous location, no doubt abut it, but it can often be busy on the roads and when you get there it can be busy in the towns and on the beaches as well – so I decided to help you out by sharing a couple of tips on how to enjoy Devon, in relative privacy.

Sadly, the roads are what they are, and you will have to pick your travel time accordingly, but, once you have reached North Devon, you can escape the madding crowd if you want to…

Where to stay: There’s a tiny little place called South Molton, just shy of Barnstaple, but with enough life of its own to make it worth a stay. Plus, it is ideally located to allow you to explore the moors or the coast as you prefer. If you stay here you will get away from the surf tourists and discover that rural Englad does still exist, with local traders, markets and more local grown produce than you can shake a reasonably sharp stick at!

We stayed in a gorgeous little boutique B&B ‘Ashley House’ which is owned and expertly run by Nicky and Jamie who make you feel welcome and pampered from the moment you walk in through the door. Nicky does the cooking for breakfast and creates a fabulous start to the day with a huge range of goodies to choose from, all locally sourced (they have their own free range chickens, so the eggs are fresh and yummy!).

The B&B itself is lovely, a stunning period house, complete with period features like gorgeous little cast iron fireplaces and lovely high ceilings. The light and airy rooms have been decorated in simple modern colours that compliment the house and furnished with everything you could need and want and a range of toiletries is provided for your use during your stay. There is a garden to relax in and secure off road parking if you arrive by car. You can take a look at Ashley House website for yourselves here…>

Nicky and Jamie are on hand to help advise you on where to visit and where to eat, they will even book restaurants for you if you like – their local knowledge is invaluable if you are new to the area, and maybe even if you aren’t.

Where to eat: Well we took some advice from tripadvisor and from Nicky our hostess and booked a meal at the Grove Inn at nearby Kings Nympton and it was worth it. The village of Kings Nympton is steeped in history and is very cute, but the food at the grove was outstanding and could set many London restaurants a fine example. They have individual beef Wellington, which was divine and the menu is full of locally caught fish and locally sourced produce – it’s fresh and tasty and very reasonably priced. Plus, the owner/landlord is extremely welcoming – perfect. You can view the Grove Inn website here…>

Where to visit: So now you have found a peaceful haven to base yourselves at, where do you go to get away from the crowds? Thanks to Nicky, we went in search of Braunton Burrows and crow point and discovered a ridiculously deserted beach, with soft sand that stretched for miles and backed by large sand dunes that inspire you to walk the coast line. Once you have found this hidden paradise, you will want to go back again and again, just don’t spread the word too much (we like it just the way it is). Find out more about this historic and biodiverse area here…>

To find this gem, you will need to head through Barnstaple itself and out the other side towards Braunton. On the way you will see a sign, (on the left) to Braunton Burrows, but keep your eyes peeled – you could miss it. Turn left onto more of a country lane and you will eventually come to a sign to ‘Crow Point’ on your left. This road is a toll road, which will cost £1.50 for a car and pushbikes are 20p, but it is well worth the small toll. Following the road, you will pass through stunning farm land (mind the sheep)and arrive at a broad parking area next to the beach. From here you can explore the dunes (larks, finches and plenty of other wildlife to see) that go on for miles or you can get straight onto sand and walk round the headland. The first sand you reach is more of an estuary beach, so the best bet is to head right, towards the open sea and the wide stretches of soft sandy beach. It’s a great beach to just chill out on, or simply walk on and will lead you round the coast to Saunton Sands and eventually Croyde.

Things to remember:
BEACH: The price you pay for this glorious unspoilt beach is that there are no facilities, so make sure you take your own water and food if you are planning a day out, as there will be nothing on route, including bins, so make sure to remove any rubbish you create. Saunton Sands and Croyde may be able to offer refreshments and facilities, but certainly in the burrows you are on your own, which is exactly how we like it.
THE GROVE INN: Book in advance, this place is so good, it fills up rapidly and you don’t want to miss your chance to eat here…
DRIVING: There is only one way into North Devon, the A361, and depending on the time of day and the day of the week you travel, it can be very busy, so when you are driving try to let the stunning views distract you from the traffic.