For about 10 years now my wife and I an our now 12-year-old son, several older children, and countless grandchildren, come down to the John Fowler holiday camp in Combe Martin, in North Devon, we always stay in a mobile home/caravan thingy. For those not aware, John Fowler holiday parks are much more peaceful and quiet than “In your face Butlins”. There are two sites here, the lower one is very hilly, best one is called Sandaway. They also have a site in Ilfracombe. Proper hotels and other camp sites are here as well.
Due to the narrowness of the valley, the village consists principally of one single long street which runs 2 miles (3.2 km) between the Valley Head the sea, it is a myth it is one of the longest high streets in the UK, but we never like to let facts spoil the story. Anyway, I like a nice long thin one.
You can hire a Kayak in the local shop, but you cannot eat it.
The word Combe means “Forest Valley”, there are lots of villages and towns with Combe in the word around here.
The view from the holiday camp is delightful:
The land mass at the top is SW Welsh Waay-alls and Swansea. It’s about 22 miles across the sea or 168 miles by road!
Very close by are the Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, Watermouth Castle, and Exmoor zoo. Each one is a great day out, especially if you have kids with you. No dogs though are allowed.
Barnstaple (where Edge lives) is 12 miles away, it’s the nearest big town if you want the usual high street shops plus B&Q, Wickes, Argos etc. However, if travelling out of season, always set the Sat Nav to avoid the B3230. They do a lot of repairs outside of the holiday season, and close the road frequently, so your Sat Nav will direct you down single-track lanes. Do not go down any of them, just carry on until a better road appears.
Ilfracombe, about 4 miles East is a lovely town, there are 2 levels, the High Street level (park just before it), then you can walk and get your shopping, good butchers (ask him for marrowbones if you have dogs) and all the pubs are nice.
On the lower end of town (park in the harbour car park), another load of great shops, pubs and places to eat. They do not allow any major high street stores like Tesco to set up anywhere in town, as inevitably it puts the local traders out of business after less then a year, nice touch I thought.
Ilfracombe boasts a Damien Hirst, 65-foot-high bronze status called Verity, looking out to sea:
The aquarium is small, but the kids will love it, and the staff are extremely helpful and explain everything.
See Steve on the harbour and you can do sea trips on a decent sized covered tourist boat. They do a cruise looking for Seals and Dolphins, and an Exmoor nesting bird cruise, each about £15-00 and takes about an hour and a half. Also spend 20 minutes on the train-like vehicle that goes around town with the driver explaining things. Remember to shout “Sausages” when he stops at the butchers; cannot think why but this make me laugh!
There are lots of places where you can take the dogs out for a walk. The Combe Martin beach allow dogs only from October, but 2 miles towards Ilfracombe there is a picture post-card village of Hele Bay, with rock pools and pebbly beach, which is great for a couple of hours healthy exercise, and they do not mind dogs any time of the year. If you have dogs then this site welcomes them, but you cannot get the really high quality static homes, you have to settle for a bit less.