Great Torrington is our nearest small town, where you can usually find all you need. You will find some shops still close on Wednesday afternoon.
Turn right out of the end of the drive, carry straight on, through High Bullen and into the outskirts of Torrington. After you pass the school on the right hand side, you will come to a roundabout. Turn left. Go straight over the next roundabout and then take the second left – signposted to the centre of town.
There is plenty of parking in the car-park at the top of the hill.
Sanford’s Bakery bakes the most wonderful fresh bread.
We highly recommend Steve’s butchers, opposite The Plough Arts Centre. Brown’s Delicatessen has some interesting produce and a small café. There are fruit & veg shops, a Post Office, free cash machines can be found in the Spar in the Square or at the BP petrol station. We have a small Co-operative supermarket in South Street and there is also a Lidl on New Street.
The Plough Arts Centre has a wide range of films showing as well as live music, plays, etc. The Café at the Plough serves coffee and simple snack lunches and suppers.
Petrol can be found at the BP garage in Torrington. Take the B3227 into Torrington and at the second roundabout the garage is on your left.
The best fish & chips in town can be found at Taff’s just by the entrance to the Pannier Market. (Taff’s is closed on Mondays).
There is an Indian restaurant in Torrington called ‘Maya’ which also does takeaway – it is really good food, but be prepared for very long waits for take away. Get there early or order well in advance. They will give you a timeslot to pick up.
If you are interested in history and especially the Civil War a visit to the 1646 Experience is a must. Based at Castle Hill, in the South Street car park, you can experience living history. They also run guided tours of Torrington.
Torrington is also home to Dartington Crystal. There are organised trips around the factory and a seconds shop.
The Tourist Information Centre can be found at Castle Hill in the South Street car park.
A bit of local history……
In the autumn of 1645, a royalist army, lead by Lord Goring was quartered in Torrington and the surrounding parishes. Lord Goring stayed at Stevenstone Manor while some of his troops were billeted in Kingscott at The Barracks.
In February 1646, the Royalists returned to Torrington, this time commanded by Sir Ralph Hopton. The troops fortified the town in preparation for an attack from Parliament’s New Model Army.
The New Model Army, lead by Generals Fairfax & Cromwell, passed through Roborough, Whistleigh and Kingscott, skirmishing with and driving out the loyalist troops before them. An attempt to hold the high ground at Higher Cross was thwarted and the new Model Army advanced via Allen’s Week towards Hatchmoor.
On 16th February 1646 the Battle of Torrington took place. The loyalists were defeated in North Devon and Lord Hopton was forced to withdraw to Cornwall.
Places to visit
RHS Rosemoor is only a couple of miles away from Torrington on the road to Merton. The gardens are fabulous all year round and there is a shop, plant centre and restaurant.
The Tarka Trail, named after Henry Williamson’s ‘Tarka the Otter’ stretches 180 miles and offers walking and cycling. It covers areas from the cliffs of the North Devon coast to the wild expanses of Exmoor and stretches south to Dartmoor. It follows the course of the old railway, which was closed in 1968.
There is direct access to the Tarka Trail at the Puffing Billy Café and pub (great for lunch) just outside Torrington on the Bideford road. Bikes can be hired here. A section of the trail runs east from here to Bideford and south towards Dartmoor.
The nearest, biggest, town (other than Great Torrington) is Barnstaple which has all the major high street stores, with Sainsbury’s,Tesco’s and Asda on the outskirts. There is a Heritage Centre, Tourist Information and Museum, which is worth a visit. Great pannier market; fruit & veg on Tuesday and Friday, Antiques on Wednesday. There is a cinema in Boutport Street.
In Bideford, the Burton Art Gallery has good exhibitions and a very nice ‘french’ café. There is an amazing traditional pottery called Bideford Pottery on Rope Walk. We highly recommend you go and visit them for a taste of the local pottery tradition. There is also a pannier market at the top of the hill, with some interesting craft shops, including the Master Potter, Harry Juniper demonstrating his craft. There is a nice park where the amazing Hockings Ice-cream van parks up. The boats to Lundy Island sail from Bideford Quay. If you need a supermarket, there is a large Morrisons and just off the A39 on the way to Bude there is an out of town shopping mall called Atlantic Village where there is a large Asda, along with a Lidl and Aldi.
Clovelly is famous for its steep cobbled street leading down to a small fishing harbour. Park at the top and walk down (cars are prohibited). You can pay for a ride back up to the top in a 4×4 if your legs refuse to carry you!
Exeter has a wonderful cathedral and some of the original tudor houses remain in the cathedral environs. The Pricesshay shopping centre has most expected high street stores, and a John Lewis. The Quay in Exeter is also interesting. The trip on the Tarka Line train from Umberleigh takes an hour and you buy your tickets on the train. You will need to flag the train down as Umberleigh is a request stop!
South Molton is a typical Devon market town with a busy pannier market on Thursdays and Saturdays. The town also has some nice individual shops.
Dr Jimmy Smart’s Garden at Marwood, Arlington Court, a National Trust property, home to the Chichester family, Lynton & Lynmouth on the North Somerset coast…….and much, much more.
Saunton Sands – lovely, long golden sanded beach. Good, safe surfing with lifeguards. Nice café on the beach with loos and showers. Beach shop. 45 mins drive. EX33 1HG
Westward Ho! – good for walking and surfing. Pebbles at the top and sand at low tide. 25 mins drive. EX 39
Northam Burrows – the far end of Westward Ho! Accessed through the burrows at Northam. A pebble ridge at the top of the beach and sand at low tide. EX39 1RL
Croyde Bay – reputed to be one of the best surfing beaches on the North Devon coast. Be careful of the rip tides though! Fabulous views up to Wollacombe. 50 mins drive. EX33 1FF
Putsborough – this is a lovely beach with good surfing when the tide is out. Lots of lovely rock pools left by the receding tide. Fabulous views up the coast. 50 mins drive. EX33 1LB
Wollacombe Bay – an enormous sandy beach. Good surfing with lifeguards. 1 hour drive. EX34 7DN
Bucks Mills – park in the car park halfway down and walk the rest. Dramatic cliffs and rocky shore. Wonderful rock pools at low tide. 35 mins drive. EX39 5DY
Peppercombe – this is a wonderful walk down to the beach on the same stretch of coast as Bucks Mills. Park on the road at Horns Cross on the A39 and turn right past the pub and follow the signs. All the land is owned by the National Trust. Wonderfully dramatic coastline. 30 mins drive.
Tunnels Beach at Ilfracombe – A network of tunnels, hand carved in the early nineteenth century, leads to a selection of sheltered sand and shingle beaches and a Victorian tidal swimming pool. The beach can only be accessed by the tunnel – fee for entry. Charming and great for kids to go rock pooling at low tide. 40 mins drive. EX34 8AX
Some wet weather activities:
Cinemas can be found at the Plough Arts Centre in Torrington and Scott Cinemas in Barnstaple.
Tarka Tennis Centre, Barnstaple – courts can be booked by the hour, indoor or outdoor. Enquire about racquet hire. (01271) 377701.
North Devon Leisure Centre, Barnstaple – (01271) 373361.
The Cranford has newly reopened under new Management. Leanne runs a great pub, with a friendly welcome and good food. Best to book in the summer months. Just 2 minutes in the car. Turn right out of the drive and it’s half a mile on your left.
The New Inn is about 4 miles from us and is one of our favourite local pubs and has won many awards for it’s good and ales. It really is very special – but you need to book ahead during the summer months. James and Magda serve good food in a friendly atmosphere. Tell them we sent you!
This is a great beer pub with good guest beers each week. Very friendly landlords and staff. They serve good pub food and is a busy village pub usually full of locals as well as visitors. Probably best to book in the summer and definitely on Thursday ‘Fish & Chip’ night! About 15 mins drive.
In our opinion this is one of the nicest pubs around. They serve some of the best pub food in the area and you can either eat in the bar or the restaurant. Always best to ring to book a table and to find out when they are open and serving food (especially out of season). 25 mins drive. EX18 7SA The Dartmoor Inn, Lydford, Dartmoor (01822) 820221 www.dartmoorinn.com
This is a good place to stop for lunch if you plan a walk on Dartmoor. Best to book a table. 50 mins drive. EX20 4AY The Royal Oak, Withypool, Exmoor (01643) 831236 www.royaloakwithypool.co.ukTA24 7QP
A good pub for lunch if you are walking on Exmoor. The Boat House, Instow (01271) 861292 www.instow.net/boathouseEX39 4JJ
Good lunchtime snacks, with lovely views across the estuary at Instow. Good restaurant in the evenings – local seafood served. The Grove Inn, Kings Nympton, (01769) 580406 www.thegroveinn.co.ukEX39 2DU
This pub is about a 30 minute drive away but is worth it. This is a very friendly pub and the land lord has a really extensive wine list, from which you can have anything by the glass. The food is tasty and reasonably priced.
Lovely café on the Tarka Trail at Fremington Quay. Fantastic views across the water. Open 10am-4pm. Either cycle there on the Tarka Trail or drive! 25 mins drive.
The Pier House, Merley Rd, Westward Ho! Bideford, Devon EX39 1JU (01237) 477777 www.thepier-house.co.uk This pub has a lovely sun-deck which is best visited in the evenings when it catches the best of the sun. There are fantastic views across the water to Saunton Sands. They serve decent pub food. Lovely mussels! The Rams Head, Dolton, South St, Dolton EX19 8QS
This pup is off the A361 towards Tiverton and has a Michelin star. They do a set lunch menu during the week and a great a la carte menu in the evenings. 40 mins drive. Best to book.
Northcote Manor Hotel, Umberleigh EX37 9LZ
(01769) 560501 www.northcotemanor.co.uk
This hotel is situated at the end of a long drive and has magnificent views. They do a set lunch during the week and in the evenings. The staff are friendly and they have lovely open fires in the winter! 15 mins drive.
This pub has recently been recently refurbished and is run by the Elliott family along with their chef and co-owner, Sam Salway. They serve food from Tuesday to Sunday. 30 mins drive.
The Coach House by Michael Caines at Kentisbury Grange Hotel, Kentisbury, EX31 4NL, (01271) 882 295 www.kentisburygrange.com
This 17th century former coaching house, is now a Michael Caines restaurant and is situated in the grounds of Kentisbury Grange Hotel and surrounded by gently rolling fields, the restaurant is open all year round for Lunch, Dinner and Afternoon Tea. 45 mins drive.