If there’s one thing better than finding a beautiful location to enjoy, it has to be bringing a picnic into the bargain. Indeed, what better excuse to loiter in one of North Devon’s idyllic corners than some food in the fresh air? There are countless places to do this in the area, from famous locations to delightfully quiet lesser known gems. But if we could only pick a handful, these would all be high on the list:
Fine estuary views on the Tarka Trail (Image: Tarka Cycle Hire)
Cycling is a wonderful way to work up an appetite and with Tarka Trail Cycle Hire providing the wheels you don’t need to worry about bringing a bicycle on holiday with you. Don’t stop too early in the journey though, because the further you ride the more lovely spots you find. The broad, rocky reaches of the River Torridge can be an especially spectacular place to stop for a bite and take in great views. You never know, in one of the quieter corners you might even spot Tarka or one of his friends in the process.
The clean sands and rippling dunes of Croyde Bay make it a lovely spot for a gentle walk on any day of the year. The views are excellent on all but the worst days and you can watch the surfers ride the waves as you enjoy a picnic. Perhaps the only time to avoid would be at the peak of the summer holidays, when things can get very busy. At such times, you can still find peace and quiet by taking a walk however, with Baggy Point another beautiful spot with equally lovely views of a craggier nature.
With grand hills, pretty streams and no shortage of seclusion, you could pick a different picnic spot each day for a decade in our nearest national park. Indeed, your choice for a lunch stop might depend on whether you prefer lofty views or a quiet forest clearing. On baking hot summer days though, little beats taking off those boots and dipping your feet in a cool stream! Watersmeet is ideal for this, which was one of the top 5 locations in our previous special Exmoor blog.
A pretty 40-acre lake is as popular with walkers as it is with nature lovers and anglers, offering lovely scenery and an ideal gentle trail, should you fancy a nice leisurely stroll before pausing for lunch. The lake is beautifully clear, supplying drinking water to nearby Barnstaple. For those who enjoy fly fishing, it also has a healthy stock of good-sized brown trout too. For the ultimate fresh fish supper, you could even bring a disposable barbeque and cook your catch in the nearby picnic area! More information can be found on the South West Lakes Trust site here.
When it comes to wild, rocky beauty, Hartland Point and the surrounding area is delightfully rough hewn. Some of the best views and secluded spots require a bit of a walk, but what a fine way to work up an appetite for lunch! For more on the area, including classic walking routes and an Iron age hill fort site, the National Trust site has further information HERE.
Famous for its sparkling waters, the River Taw can be a lovely spot to stop and watch the world go by. There are various spots you could pause for a picnic, but Bondleigh, North Tawton has a pretty circular walk with several suitable sites right by the water. Don’t be too surprised if you see a kingfisher or a leaping salmon!
This cute market town beside the River Torridge has some great scenery and intriguing history, not to mention the lively local Plough Arts Centre going for it. Perhaps it is the very peaceful and off-the-beaten-trail nature of the place that prevents it from becoming too busy, but it is a bit of an unsung gem (see our previous Postcard from Torrington blog). As for picnic spots, you could pause by the river as you enter the town, but another wonderful spot is Torrington Commons. Here you'll find some 20 miles of footpaths and a huge variety of flora and fauna.
For anyone who loves idyllic scenery, country walks and excellent food, Northcote Manor is one of the finest country house hotels in Devon. We offer superb hospitality in all seasons, whether it is a summer escape for two or a special winter break. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and offers section for our latest news and special promotions, such as our cracking three-for-two nights summer stay deal.