We recently came back from a great little getaway to North Devon and have listed below for you 10 Things to do in and around Ilfracombe.
For the Devon days out page, I wanted to begin with Ilfracombe as we have very fond memories of our ‘baby moon’ there. I booked a little hotel with its own pool and great views. I envisaged us relaxing poolside, drink in hand, nipping in and out of the glorious pool when the heat was too much (!)
Alas, the weather was unfortunately not the kind that called for pool dipping of any kind in an unheated outdoor pool. My hormonal reaction to this ridiculously cold swimming pool was amongst the biggest of my pregnancy flip outs. As I sobbed poolside, Roy observed with a look of genuine fear. The same look that flashes across the face of all fathers- to-be at some point. From his point of view, the ship christened ‘do not wake the beast’ had sailed and he was into full damage control mode. He did what any sane man would do in the circumstances to mollify the ‘big situation’ (me) and calmly (albeit hesitantly) stepped into the freezing pool. He stayed in there long enough until I felt confident in the fact that ‘we had made good use of the pool’ and he uttered soothing comments through chattering teeth… ‘the water really is lovely ’ … ‘Blue? No they can’t be! It’s great in here!’.
This was probably the moment that Ilfracombe earned a special place in my heart… sat poolside, stroking my swollen belly, watching Roy turn a peculiar colour and taking in the magnificent views. Flashback below 🙂
So, due to our fond memories we were very much looking forward to going back and I was uber excited when a lovely campsite kindly offered us some accommodation so that I could begin my venture into North Devon. We stayed in a lovely caravan that had the most beautiful views out over the coast where Bella would sit and happily dolphin spot (with Mummy) and giant girl-eating sea monster spot (with Daddy). We loved everything about our stay at the family run Lydford farm and here are some of the highlights…
- The views…absolutely beautiful! The pictures don’t do them justice but we felt very lucky to wake up and see such loveliness.
- The cutest shop ever! Opens for an hour in the morning, and an hour later in the afternoon stocking essentials. In the morning, you can buy the most delicious freshly baked pain au chocolates and croissants for your breakfast.
- The location – We were able to explore loads from Lydford farm without ever feeling like we were driving too far, and even when we did get in the car the scenery made it part of the trip anyway. You can walk to Watermouth Castle in 15 minutes from the site (Bella is slow and easily distracted by leaves so it’s probably less than this), and from there, if you cross the road you arrive at Watermouth Harbour. If you did want to explore further by foot you can pick up the South West coast path. It is also just a 10 minute drive into Ilfracombe.
- Attention to detail – The caravan was stocked with everything that you would need for your ‘home from home’ and was spotlessly clean. There are 50 individually marked pitches available for tents, touring caravans and motor homes and they ALL have stunning views! They also offer 2 beautiful self-catering cottages available to rent throughout the year.
- The play area – We had an action packed few days but when we were at the site, Roy would wander down to the shop in the morning to pick up our freshly baked goodies. The shop is just by the play area so he would take Bella along leaving me time to pack our picnics. It has swings, a climbing net and a couple of little bouncers.
- They are very family friendly – Set on a 100 acre organic farm they are super friendly, very helpful, and they welcome all family members including dogs with a large dog run field easily accessible from the site.
If planning a visit to Ilfracoombe, here are 10 ideas for things to do in the area
1 Visit Watermouth Castle – I had never heard of this attraction before our visit to Lydford Farm, but, as it was within easy walking distance of the site, we wanted to try it. It is, whilst being one of most enjoyable family days out that we have had in a while, I have to say a very quirky attraction! There was loads of things to enjoy in the castle before we made our way out into the beautiful gardens & grounds to find a theme park! We have never been anywhere quite like it…In a good way!
2 Enjoy picnics – So obvious but you really will be spoilt for choice with beautiful spots all around to sit and take in the views.
3 Visit Westward Ho – Apart from us all loving the opportunity to say ‘Westward Ho’ over and over again in our best pirate voices I also knew that Bella would be a very happy little munchkin building sandcastles. We enjoyed all the traditional fun that comes with a seaside town, the amusement arcades, penny machines and ice creams.
4 Visit Tunnels Beaches – This is a fabulous little spot to visit offering great rock pools and it has been rated the third best beach in the U.K for rock pooling. Whilst we had to pay a small fee to go onto the beaches (which seemed odd, but we later found out it is privately owned and it receives no subsidies) it is spotlessly clean, as are the facilities. There is a great little beach shop selling ice creams etc and you can hire deck chairs.
5 Sit and enjoy a drink at the Café Blue Bar with free wi fi. We had great views whilst Bella enjoyed ‘the play hut’ a kids soft play zone complete with scramble nets, ball pits, slides and a toddler zone. They have a big outdoor pirate ship as well (another great opportunity for us to use our pirate voices!). This is at the same location as Tunnels Beaches.
6 Visit The Big Sheep – Much like Watermouth Castle, we hadn’t experienced a day out quite like it! They had lots of the stuff that you come to expect from an attraction designed with kids in mind… big bouncy pillows, little trains and tractor rides. But then on top of all of that, they had absolutely hilarious shows, seemingly running all day. At first Roy and I were not quite sure whether they were meant to be funny! We did look over our shoulders a few times to check other families were equally amused by the absurdity of some of it, but it soon became apparent, that the whole day is catered around making adults and children alike smile, relax and have fun. We belly laughed at the brilliant member of staff during the great sheep show. As we did during the sheep dog and duck trials. The staff here are amongst the friendliest we have ever come across. To be added to days out soon.
7 Ilfracombe Harbour & Fore Street – take a walk and see the many cafes, ice cream parlours and gift shops along the quayside. There are also lots of quaint independent shops, pubs and traditional tea gardens and more than a few places to enjoy a glass of wine on the seafront.
8 Say hello to ‘Verity’ – The sculpture on long term loan to North Devon Council from celebrity London and Devon based artist, Damien Hirst. Standing at 67 foot this bronze giantess is formidable to say the least! I personally was not a fan, and found her to be less than welcoming but Bella seemed to like her and seemed quite impressed exclaiming that she now knew what she looked like when she was in my tummy!
9 Enjoy a drink and/or a meal at Damien Hirst’s restaurant the Quay. We visited for a drink only and the staff are very friendly. I asked for a hot milk for Bella and the lovely lady popped in some little marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles . The views of the harbour are great and the food on the menu did look yummy!
10 Finish off with some fish & chips by the seaside.
Lydford Farm and camping is a fantastic choice for exploring Ilfracombe. If you are looking for a site jam packed with recreational activities so you don’t have to leave your base, then this probably isn’t the place for you, but, if you want somewhere that is stunningly beautiful, exceptionally well maintained and very friendly then it could well be! You can find more information on Lydford Farm website here…www.lydfordfarm.co.uk
We had such a lovely time,and I have got a good start to the Devon days out page. Watermouth Castle, The Big Sheep, Westward Ho and Tunnels Beaches will all be featured. However, as there is soooooo much to see and do in North Devon that is great for families we are hoping to head back up to North Devon at the beginning of May to explore some more great places.
We recently stumbled across a great blog called Country Mummy, full of days out in the South West and asked them if we could post some of their blog posts on Mini Travellers, thankfully they said yes, so here we go. Country Mummy is a community focused website designed to champion the families, businesses and charities of Somerset and we think it does a great job. If you are thinking of holidaying in the South West or live there, make sure you give them a follow on twitter @CountryMummyUK or on Facebook.