Mist clinging to rolling green hills, the deep blue of October sea swells, ancient woodlands flushing red and golds… These are the images of Autumn in North Devon and an open invite to make the most of an October half term break.
While the West Country needs no further recommendation as a summer holiday destination, it is actually Autumn that can deliver up some of the most rewarding surprises for visitors. North Devon enjoys a more temperate climate than most parts of the UK in October, with temperatures clinging to double digit averages throughout the month.
This means October half term break visitors often enjoy the best North Devon has to offer – clear bright sunny days but without the crowds that come with the summer holidays. We’re not pretending that it’s always sunny but even when the weather comes in there is some satisfaction in being snuggled up cosily with tea, cake and a board game, or braving the elements to howl at the sky and feel alive like Lieutenant Dan!
Ilfracombe brings fantastic October half term break opportunities for families looking to get in a holiday getaway before winter arrives. This time of year, the Carlton Hotel facilities including bar and restaurant, make for a fulfilling holiday base camp. The Carlton has a reputation for going the extra -country! – mile to ensure everyone’s stay is an enjoyable one and our King Size rooms quickly become a family haven (see here for our attractive family room supplement rates).
Here’s a roundup of the best family friendly activities in North Devon this October half term break:
Free North Devon Half Term Activities
If you’re on holiday with kids it can sometimes feel like the meter is constantly ticking. However, going on holiday shouldn’t have to be about the race to empty your wallet before heading back! In North Devon, many of the best activities in life are free (or low cost at least!).
– 0 minutes from Seaside Town!
The Carlton is located in the town of Ilfracombe and what a great little seaside town it is! Aside from all the family holiday favourites – arcades, mini golf, cinema – there are plenty of free things to enjoy on a ‘town’ day. The friendly town museum has many curiosities, there is public art to peruse (courtesy of artist Damien Hirst who has a home nearby), splendid views from the top of Capstone and a clutch of town beaches to explore.
– 10 minutes from Adventure Coves!
Hop in the car and head towards Combe Martin and you will find a wondrous stretch of coastline to explore. Pack up some sandwiches and head off on a bear hunt… actually seals and porpoises are more likely to be spotted on this hunt!
– 20 minutes from Sandy Beaches
Two of North Devon’s finest sandy beaches can be found at Woolacombe, Saunton and Croyde. If the urge takes you, there are surf schools and surf hire shops. If the pumping Autumn swell is all a bit too much, enjoy the surf from afar and sweat out some sandcastles!
– 30 minutes from Exmoor National Park
Where the countryside meets the sea, Autumn is one of the best times of year to visit Exmoor National Park and a perfect addition to the list of North Devon half-term activities. The area offers stunning walks across open moorland or through woodland valleys and wildlife in abundance (including wild ponies and a huge herd of wild stags which has been spotted frequently over the summer of 2019).
North Devon Half Term Family Attractions
Nearby Watermouth Castle has rides and attractions – from the entertaining Gnome Land to the Thunderbolt Luge run. Great for young kids the coastal location of Watermouth makes it a popular family place to visit. The wonderful National Trust property of Arlington Court makes the most of the Autumn and runs a North Devon half-term activitiesprogramme, featuring the likes of a pumpkin trail and deer spotting walks.
North Devon has more than its fair share of native wildlife, but for those who crave something a bit more exotic (or just don’t have the patience to wait!) you could always fit a zoo visit into your North Devon half-term activities. The region offers two great choices – the Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park and Exmoor Zoo, both of which are close to Ilfracombe
A little further afield are two fantastic family theme parks, providing good wet weather options for North Devon half term visitors. The Big Sheephas indoor playgrounds, rides, animal feeding, milking and sheep racing- all the fun of farm life without having to get up at 5am and stomp around in manure!The Milky Way is another theme park day option for families. It has numerous rides – dodgems, roller coaster and a gravity rider – alongside regular shows encompassing the wonders of wizardry and falconry. Both have added Halloween attractions to entertain kids of all ages.
To make the most of North Devon half-term activities advance book your room at The Carlton to get the best rates and secure an Autumn family break to warm those cockles before winter finally arrives! It being Halloween there are a few tricks and plenty of treats to enjoy.
This October in Love Ilfracombe Magazine we are celebrating our new party and event spaces. What’s in store for our Christmas and New Year party nights. Our famous Sunday roasts. This month’s Foodie Friday Steak Night coming up on the 25th and our of course our delicous dish of the month, Cod Loin With Smoked Beans recipe.[/vc_column][/vc_row]
Get ready for the party season, with this super refreshing Pre-Party Pamper Package. This deal includes:
- Glass of fizz
- 30-minute treatment from our therapists
- Superfood packed juice or smoothie and wellbeing lunch.
This package is available Friday and Saturdays in November through to early December.
£29.50 per person, when booked and paid for before the end of October.
The Carlton Hotel in Ilfracombe, North Devon, is amongst a new breed of British hotel which is embracing the concept of pet inclusive and dog-friendly holidays. “I have two large hairy dogs that were made very welcome…” Just one line from a Trip Advisor review speaks volumes!
The dog friendly credentials of the Carlton stem, in part, from the owners’ own affection for their canine companion, in the form of a Border Terrier named Leo. “Before we owned the Carlton”, explains Eliot Seabourn-Wren, “we encountered the same problems as many dog owners when planning a holiday. We didn’t want to leave Leoat home and it was quite a challenge finding holiday destinations with hotels and restaurants that were dog friendly”.
It’s estimated that there are 8.9 million pet dogs in the UK and a significant percentage of these would prefer to go on holiday than be left in kennels (probably!). North Devon has become a popular destination for dog owners due to its beautiful scenery, abundance of great walking and dog friendly holiday spots, from beaches to hotels and restaurants.
Beaches are an obvious draw for visitors looking to get away from it all for a dog friendly break and the North Devon region offers these in great variety; from huge swathes of sandy beach to charge aroundto numerous pebbly coves accessed cross country, with many new and wonderful scents to sniff at along the way!
Country walks are another big plus of a dog friendly break in North Devon, with many miles of footpaths criss-crossing the Exmoor national park (close by to Ilfracombe) and the beautifully scenic coastal path winding its way around North Devon’s cliff tops and green landscapes. Many of these walks are shaded which allow for exercise even in the long days of English sunshine.
North Devon’s Dog Friendly Beaches
While welcoming to dogs, some of North Devon’s beaches do carry some restrictions during the summer season. Some beaches, such as Woolacombe, Putsborough and Westward Ho! have zoning guidelines that set dog friendly holiday restrictions (generally from May – October, although specific details can be found here), but there are many that are open for walks year round. Saunton Sands beach, a 3.5 mile stretch of golden sand, fringed by Braunton Burrows, one of the largest sand dunes in the UK and a UNESCO biosphere, is open to dogs year round.
Many of these can be found around Ilfracombe, itself located in a picturesque seaside setting and minutes walk from the town’s beaches (Raparee, The Cove, Larkstone, Cheyne and Wildersmouth). Overlooking the town from the east rises the impressive Hillsborough nature reserve, a lovely walk with rewarding views of the town. From here the coast path winds east, to Hele Bay and beyond to Combe Martin. The perfect day out for particularly energetic dogs and owners and a superb day trip.
For those less energetically inclined, the main road runs parallel to this route and there are several spots where one can park up and join the coast path.
When the weather is fine, there are few more rewarding pleasures than heading off with the dog and a small picnic picked up from one of Ilfracombe’s local produce selling stores, or stopping off to quench a thirst at a dog friendly pub.
Dog Friendly Country Walks in North Devon
Any dog friendly holiday in North Devonshould take in the delights of the Exmoor National Park. This rambling area of wilderness which straddles North Devon and Somerset, provides stunning walking which takes in a range of terrains – from sweeping heather filled moorland, to hidden valleys where quiet rivers run through enchanted woodland. The Exmoor National Park is attuned to the requirements of a dog friendly holiday and provides detailed information about canine inclusive activities.
Pet Friendly at The Carlton
The Carlton offers the perfect destination for pet friendly breaks. Dog owners can enjoy the luxury and comfort of the hotel’s modern en suite rooms, housed inside a classic Victorian building. Dogs get the five star treatment too, with their own beds and bowls and a dog friendly section of the restaurant and bar to hang out in.
When you book a doggie break your canine friend will get their own personal doggie hamper courtesy of Husse. And both dog and keeper will be able to access our guide to dog walks around North Devon here. These bespoke walks are curated by Ragamuffin our four legged friend who lives in the town.
While the doggy bowl may be filled with holiday treats, owners can look forward to a selection of dishes from the Carlton Brasserie menus that may not have them panting, but will definitely give the mouth cause to water. Local provenance is a key element of the food at the Carlton, with dishes cooked from scratch using local ingredients and the kitchen is renowned for its accommodating attitude, happily tailoring meals to fit in with special diets.
If you’re looking for a dog friendly holiday, then the Carlton, Ilfracombe and the North Devon surrounding area, make for a wonderful choice! Contact the Carlton for more information about dog friendly breaks by calling 01271 862446 or emailing on email@example.com.
“Rosamunde who?…” This is very often the answer when a Brit is asked by a German speaker, usually with a beaming smile, if they are familiar with the work of Rosamunde Pilcher. The Cornish born author, who died earlier this year, should be better known by her countrymen – after all, her novels have sold over 60 million copies!
While other writers have a place in the collective British heart, Rosamunde Pilcheris curiously missing. Not so in Germany (and parts of Austria and Switzerland), where Mrs Pilcher’s novels are something of a Sunday night television institution, feverishly adapted in the same way that Devon born author, Agatha Christie’s novels are adapted for British TV.
Although Rosamunde left Cornwall early in adulthood and moved to Scotland, her upbringing in the West Country formed the backdrop for many of her novels. Since 1993 more than 100 episodes, inspired by Rosamunde Pilcher’s stories, have been made for German TV by ZweitesDeutschesFernsehen (ZDF).
This explains her huge popularity in Germany and also explains the significant number of ‘Pilcher Pilgrims’ who come to the British West Country every year. From Bonn to Berlin, Dresden to Düsseldorf, and the Baltic coast to the Black Forest, an estimated 250,000 German tourists travel to Cornwall to visit the stunning locations which bring this TV show alive.
Many of these German tourists choose to break their journey along the way by stopping off in the beautiful region of North Devon. In the early days it was more as a matter of convenience, but as word of mouth spread about this unspoilt part of the UK, North Devon has become a more familiar stop on a German tourist itinerary.
Why Choose North Devon?
Co-owner of The Carlton Hotel in Ilfracombe, Eliot Seabourn-Wren, has noticed an increasing number of German visitors passing through the town. “Obviously we are aware of who Rosamunde Pilcher is now!” says Eliot, speaking in the hotel’s library, which could itself be a scene from a period drama. “But I have to admit she was news to me to begin with.”
He sees the attraction of North Devon for German visitors as being the dramatic coastal landscape and its beautiful countryside. “The terrain of Cornwall is very dramatic, but quite stark. The coastal landscape of North Devon is dramatic too, but it is softer – with rolling green hills, more sheltered waters and quiet bays.”
The variety of North Devon’s beaches has made the region a favourite stopover for German visitors; from the epic Saunton Sands (a regular backdrop for movies and record covers, including the iconic Pink Floyd Momentary Lapse of Reasonalbum) to smuggler’s coves such as nearby Watermouth Bay, which was the backdrop for a TV adaptation of the mystery tales of children’s writer Enid Blyton.
Ilfracombe: The Perfect Stopover!
German tourists have also found the pretty town of Ilfracombe a great place to spend some time in. The town, twinned with Herxheim in the Rhineland-Palatinate, offers some fine examples of Victorian architecture and unique features from the historical era such as the ‘Tunnels’ beaches. Recently in Spring 2019 the twinning association visited Ilfracombe and Herxheims finest Kolpinskapelleband gave an impromptu performance at a reception held at The Carlton.
Ilfracombefirst came to prominence during the reign of Queen Victoria (Nineteenth century) when the development of the railway opened up Britain’s small coastal towns to tourism and the era of theVictorian seaside resortbegan. Victoria was herself half German, descended from the House of Hannover, and spoke German fluently.
Ilfracombe (just two hours from Bristol airport and four hours from Heathrow) also sits on the edge of the magnificent Exmoor National Park, which is a combination of sweeping moorland, superb coastal views and hidden valleys. The area was made famous by the classic English tale, Lorna Doone, and the drive along the coast of North Devon (and neighbouring county of Somerset), via the towns of Taunton and Minehead, is spectacular.
From Ilfracombe the landmarks of Pilcher novels – such as Bodmin Moor and Padstow – are just a two hour drive. This makes the North Devon seaside town the perfect stopover point to relaxand refresh! The Carlton offers luxurious modern rooms, spa treatments and gym facilities. Its restaurant, The Brasserie, also serves great food– from locally caught fish to tasty traditional cream teas (German visitors will learn that in Devon the cream comes after the jam on a scone, while in Cornwall it is the other way around!). There are of course also great local ciders and ales to sip while browsing the pages of such Pilcher classics as The Shell Seekers, Coming Home or Winter Solstice!
Book a break at The Carlton, or contact the hotel for more information on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you love salmon then this teriyaki salmon recipe is a winner! It’s so quick and simple and doesn’t require any lengthy marinating, but is super tasty and flavorful. The Asian salmon turns out flaky, juicy and absolutely delicious with a homemade teriyaki sauce.
In this month’s Love Ilfracombe Focus Magazine, August Issue we talk about our traditional Sunday lunch, much loved Salmon Teriyaki recipe, Chrismas and New Year events for the diary and our popular afternoon tea. Look out for our next issue coming up in September!
If you’re looking to explore the essence of the English country garden, then North Devon is a great place to start! A North Devon gardens tour provides variety, contrast and some of the most beautiful surrounding natural scenery England has to offer.
The oceanic climate of the region delivers milder winters than most parts of the UK and all year precipitation which brings a distinctive lushness to the green and rolling hills which characterise this part of the world. Plants and flowers thrive in this part of the world – the parish of Braunton for example is one of the most bio-diverse in the country, with 470 species of flowering plant found on Braunton Burrows (a UNESCO biosphere) and 11 species of orchid alone.
Over the years, cultivators have made the most of this environment, and a North Devon garden tour reveals some real treats for garden aficionados. The Carlton Hotelin Ilfracombe provides a great location to explore the region’s gardens (see below for details of our Gardens of North Devonpackage) Here we choose 5 of the best:
Marwood Hill Gardens
An enchanted private garden that is open to the public, Marwood Hill Gardensare set over a 20 acre site, sequestered within a sheltered valley. Its three lakes, lovely views and peaceful ambience make it a favourite stop on any North Devon gardens tour. Marwood was established in the 950s by passionate gardener, Dr Jimmy Smart VMH, who devoted his life to growing this beautiful garden which boasts an impressive collection of plants – including Betula, Eucryphia, Eucalyptus, Rhododendron, Hosta and Iris. Of particular note is the impressive Camellia collection (containing 800+ cultivars).
RHS Garden Rosemoor
The regional jewel in the RHS crown, Rosemoor(which is near the town of Torrington) is a popular stop on any North Devon gardens tour. Work on the garden began in 1959 on an original 8 acre site which was developed in a naturalistic style – first opened to the public in 1967 it now comprises of 65 acres.
Well managed, the site contains a number of different gardens including the Hot garden, Winter garden, Model gardens and Exotic garden. Rosemoor also has lake and woodland scenery as well as arboretom and orchard areas. As a consequence, this is a real garden for all seasons and most months of the year has something to show.
Tapeley Park’scharm lies in its age (with parts of the garden dating back to the mid nineteenth century) and the unorthodox path travelled by its current custodian, Hector Christie, who has been a champion of organic farming and working with nature since the early 1990s. This is typified by Tapeley’s permaculture garden one of the oldest in the UK, which to the untrained eye looks ‘wild’, but up close is a fine example of working with mother nature.
Beneath a canopy of traditional trees and shrubs, system and partner plants attract beneficial insects and bees (Tapeley is pesticide free). The result is a wonderful garden filled with exotic edible plants that can be tasted. The permaculture gardeners are always happy to show visitors around and illustrate the benefits of this form of gardening. The classical style of the Italian terraces portray a more orthodox garden style.
Docton Mill is located near to the village of Clovelly (and often combined with a day trip to the cobbled streets of this cliff top village). A privately owned garden, Docton has been an exciting work in progress since the property was taken over in the 1970s. Its stunning wildflower gardens thrive in this beautiful valley location.
The valley environment is also home to different sections including Woodland garden and Bog garden with the wonderful Magnolia garden and large Herbaceous borders lending a real splash of colour throughout the seasons. As well as amazing gardens, Docton Mill is also home to a rather amazing tea room!
While the gardens of this National Trust property are not its main focus, Arlington Courtis still a popular stop on any North Devon gardens tour. The Victorian garden, Walled kItchen garden and conservatory display a range of colourful annual flowers, fruits and vegetables and plants more commonly seen in the southern hemisphere.
The larger Arlington Estate holds many treats for the visitor; from the collections on display inside the classical regency house to one of the country’s most significant collection of carriages, housed in the old stable block. Also very popular are the many trails and footpaths (20 miles of them!), that criss-cross this grand country Estate.
The best time to visit North Devon’s gardens is spring to early summer, when the blooms are at their most vibrant, although between March and October there is still plenty to see and admire. Explore North Devon’s wonderful gardens from the Carlton, which offers luxurious roomsand excellent dining to make the most of a relaxing break.
Take advantage of the Gardens of North Devonpackage. Based at The Carlton and including two nights accommodation with full English breakfast, three course dinner on one evening, afternoon tea with fizz and free admission to both RHS Rosemoor and Marwood Hill Gardens. Priced at £69 per person per night and available on selected dates during September, October and into November.
Our simple broad bean risotto recipe is a delicious and healthy vegetarian dish but it can easily be adjusted to include meat and fish. Simply add pancetta, ham, beacon or fish or your choice and replace the vegetable stock with chicken.
One of the greatest benefits of living and working in the South West is the availability of locally grown produce. This month we have some stunning broad beans which are the centre piece of this dish. Broad beans are great for everyone, giving fuel with a good protein content assisting bone and muscle strength as well as many other key energy-boosting nutrients.[/vc_column][/vc_row]
Do you have a sense of adventure? If the answer is yes, then we have the perfect destination for you. If the answer is ‘I used to’, then we also have the perfect destination for you to rediscover that sense. Welcome to North Devon – England’s Adventure Coast.
It’s some boast of course, but in this case it could be said to be true. There’s something about North Devon- which runs from the Cornish border to the edge of Exmoor – that sets it aside from other parts of the country. This is typified by the rugged coastal landscape, formed by the region’s exposure to everything the Atlantic flings its way (there is nothing but sea between it and the coast of North America), and the lushness of rolling green hills.
Ilfracombe, home to the Carlton Hotel is the perfect location to explore the best the North Devon Adventure Coast has to offer. So let’s set the scene with a look at what adventures the area has to offer:
It’s such a good place to start, considering our town of Ilfracombe sits within one of the most picturesqueyet hidden of bay locations. Thecoastline around it mottled with small coves that once offered smugglers safe havenand have captured the imagination of Famous Five tales (nearby WidmouthBay was the backdrop for 1995’s ‘Five on a Treasure Island’ TV production). The perfectexploration adventure awaits!
Looking at the bigger coastal picture, the wonderful SouthWest coastal path provides a fantastic North Devon Adventure Coast experience – whether as part of an extended hike, or a day trip excursion, complete with picnic in the pack. The trail covers the breadth of the North Devon coastline, ascending steep cliffs, with amazing views out to sea, and descending onto empty beaches with frequent wildlife spotting opportunities, such as seals and porpoises bobbing between the waves. The Ilfracombe- Mortehoesection of the coastal path is particularly rugged and epic, while the section from Ilfracombe to Combe Martin is more sheltered and verdant.Whichever the route the visage is stunning.
Long before North Devon got the title ‘England’s Adventure Coast’, it had been discovered by those committed devotees to the adventure sportsgenre. The beaches of North Devon are renowned for their great surfing opportunities. The sandy length of Woolacombe beach is frequently counted as one of thebest in the worldand its waves (particularly at the Putsboroughend, are classic). Nearby Croyde has surf that pumps (beginners beware) over its sandy bar, whereas the longer, more manageable, waves of Saunton Sands are a long boarder’s paradise and a great place to learn to surf.
Away from the waves, North Devon’s deep forested valleys, high moors and miles and miles of tranquil country lanes, provide most excellent cycling terrain for both road bikers and mountain bikers (check out our North Devon cycling blogfor more information).
Time to cast away thetech and swap a smart phone for a pair of binoculars and a firm stick! England’s Adventure Coast is a nature haven, a place where you can get close to wildlife without having to pay the price of an admission ticket– yes so much of the offer is free. As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,and a UNESCO designated Biosphere, nature is literally on the doorstep. If you care about the environment, then England’s Adventure Coast is a great place to explore it! Adventures can be found throughout the Exmoor national park – from getting up close to an Exmoor pony or deer spotting as the sun goes down with a ranger (many activities are free). Braunton Burrows, one of the UK’s biggest sand dunes, always provides an adventure too (follow the walks in the Burrows guide to avoid the real possibility of getting lost in this vast space).
TheNorth Devon Adventure Coast culinary expedition will include some seaside favourites – fudge, ice cream, fish and chips! – but will also open the window onto a world of fresh caught fish, local reared meat and fine,locally grown ingredients. Use the Carlton as your home and enjoy a rich dining experiencethat will sensationalise those taste buds!
Need we say more?! Set up base at The Carlton in Ilfracombe where our stylish contemporary rooms and first class facilities provide a luxurious sanctuary… and set your sense of adventure loose this Summer or Autumn. Get in contactfor more information or to book a stay.