Hi friends, we've just got back from a magical few days in Devon and we are HOOKED. Have always driven a little bit further in the past and stayed in Cornwall but we may be officially converted after this trip. I can't tell you how badly this Mama needed a change of scenery and a break from reality. Due to work overload and dog-sitting issues, Husband wasn't able to join us this time but we had a wonderful time with family and the boys were angelic (mostly!) which made life easier for this tired Mama. It helped that Devon has so much to do!!
Here's some photos for you and some links to our very favourite places in case you're ever in the area and need some suggestions...
An evening walk on the farm we stayed at.
Due to the size of our party, we rented this place, the lovely Grascott House in...well in the middle of nowhere really. The owner, Sam, can literally not do enough for you, the house is set within over 200 acres of forestry which you are free to roam as you like and you can take up to 5 dogs with you (didn't read that nugget of info before we went, durrh!) The only downside is having to get into the car every time you want to head out, there is no 'local shop' and each beach is around 30mins drive. This annoyed me for the first 48hours after driving all the way down there from Shropshire (I couldn't even look at my car after THAT trek!)...but I soon got over it and appreciated the isolated feel of the place. We could leave the doors open, the boys could be as feral and wild as they liked, on days when this pregnant Mama was too tired to venture far there was more than enough for them to do right outside the front door, the dogs were ecstatic... by the end of our time we were sad to leave and determined to return. The house sleeps 10, is homely with a lived-in, cosy feel and we loved it.
Side note: the drive is a mile long and pretty bumpy and pot-holed. This didn't bother us one bit, in fact Boy had many, many driving lessons up and down that drive which is a memory I shall treasure forever ;-) But it's mentioned frequently in the guest book, just felt I should pass it on!
Skimming stones in the ford at 9pm ;-)
Beautiful Instow beach. Make sure to grab brunch at Johns; everything was delicious, they couldn't do enough for the boys and health-conscious Nana even got her hands on chia seed pudding. The cakes to take out were immense too. We will DEF return to this little treasure next time we're down.
Boy suddenly felt very grown up this holiday; I'm not sure if it's him finishing Year 1 or becoming the eldest of three but it's breaking my heart!!
Happy as pigs in poo!
A little play sans pants at The Glorious Oyster cafe in Instow. The fish options on their menu are to die for. If you get chance, go!
We hired some bikes and hit up the Tarka Trail one day. There are plenty of places to hire bikes from but we opted for the friendly guys at Bideford Bike Hire who pointed us in the right direction for cafe stops and sandy beaches for the boys. 5 bikes and a trailer set us back less than £75 and helmets are only £1 to borrow for the day (safety first!) which I didn't think was too bad. Considering we pulled into the carpark behind a minibus full of school children (I inwardly groaned!), we were sorted out with wheels and on the trail within minutes - first class service.
The mileage we actually covered when we checked the Strava at the end of the day was pitiful to say the least...BUT we did eat a lot of amazing cake and the children all had a blast so not a total loss of a day! We stopped at Fremington Quay Cafe for hot chocolates during a light shower and wound up staying for an entire lunch. Seriously delicious food and such lovely staff. The place was packed and deservedly so, def add this place to your list of must-visits.
Okehampton Castle on the one rainy day.
Never one to let rain stop play, we headed to nearby Okehampton when we woke up to drizzle and explored the ruins of the castle before enjoying a picnic in the grounds when the clouds parted. This place is the perfect size for little people, just enough to explore and roam without getting lost or feeling overwhelmed. The lady at the ticket office makes a mean hot chocolate, too!
When the boys had burnt off enough beans, we walked into the town and discovered Koast, a cute little clothing shop in the Red Lion arcade. Full of gorgeous childrenswear, this place stocks everything from Frugi to Catimini AND they had a pretty impressive sale on. We grabbed armfuls of things in the boys' sizes and left happy. If you're in the area, aren't a massive fan of Clarks and need children's shoes (random, but could happen?!) I also spotted lovely things in that section but didn't get a proper chance to look... check it out!
We stopped off at The Rydon Inn in Holsworthy for a delicious Sunday lunch and it was worth the drive. The roast was impressive in itself...but then the waiter brought out the dessert board. OMG! After much discussion, we eventually ordered five and rotated them around the table. All incredible. Holiday calories don't count in Devon...
Toddler discovered a love for the sea. Here he is at Westward Ho! beach striking a pose...
...and getting cosy again! Boy already knew he loved the water, so we didn't really see much of him once he purchased a boogie board but it was so sweet watching little Toddler experience it properly for the first time.
We ate at the Beach Bar Diner both days we were here and it was the greatest place for naughty treats. Burgers, nuggets, hot dogs, milkshakes as big as your head...the perfect food after burning loads of calories and energy in the water all day. Get there before 12pm and there's waffles!!
And the last place I must tell you about is Barnstaple. Mama felt the need to shop so on our penultimate day, under the guise of soaking up some cultural heritage, I dragged the whole lot of us into the biggest town nearby and hit up some shops.
I bought some lovely baby toys in Little You (and then half an hour later had to go back and buy some Spiderman Duplo for someone..!!)
We had a delicious lunch and cream tea at The Cream Tea Cafe where they not only had the best scones we'd eaten all week but also a Star Wars book for small customers to read whilst waiting. Travelling with a 5 year old? Make sure this place is on your list! The owner's daughter happened to be there when we were enjoying lunch and had a new box of Lego...cue a sweet conversation between littlies and soon enough we had directions on how to get to the shop where she'd bought it! (Thank you, S, we came home with some Star Wars Lego!)
I also found Coast and Country where they stock, amongst many beautiful things, the gorgeous O bags which I already have one of, but needed new handles for (see? Random shopping does happen on holiday!) Apparently they also have a store down in Bude (opp Costa) so you can find them there, too. Lovely people, many lovely things for the home.
So yes, Devon is truly delightful. We only explored a teeny, tiny portion of what it had to offer but we loved it. Both boys were MAD for the sea and I'm sad Husband wasn't there to encourage them more (Mama only encourages them up to knee height and then she gets nervous!) but we've said we'll try and squeeze down another few days before school starts back if we can so that they can have some proper surfing lessons. I've just got to find a short-term let at short notice. Any suggestions? No pressure!
Have you guys got any recommendations to add to the list for our next visit? Can't wait to take Baby next summer, and the boys have requested wetsuits so I think they're quite serious!