Barnstaple is the largest town in North Devon, located on the River Taw. It is the social centre of North Devon, with lots of activities to get you out and about. Whether you are wanting to meet friends, go for dinner or a night out, watch a show, or shop, Barnstaple has you covered. The town offers a little bit of everything, but with a real family friendly focus.
The partly pedestrianised centre features old buildings and attractive narrow streets and alleys. This is all part of the historical appeal of the town. Whether you are staying in one of our properties in the area or are looking for a day trip packed with history and culture, be sure to check out Barnstaple on Your Devon Escape.
Barnstaple is one of the UK’s oldest boroughs and was once a major trading port for America. To find out more about the history of the town and region, be sure to check out the local museums. The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is home to a range of collections and displays covering the natural and human history of this beautiful part of the country. The collections include the pre-history of North Devon and the Tarka Gallery.
Barnstaple remains a thriving historic market town with a traditional Pannier Market. Pannier has been the host of local markets for over a thousand years. Historically the markets were less varied than they are today, but you can still get your regular traditional farmer’s market between other events. The market, itself, is flanked by a terrace of shops under an iron roof, hosting a selection of independent shops which cements the town’s draw as a haven for shoppers.
The town is a hub for artists, historians, and lovers of culture with regular art and crafts events taking place throughout the year. There is a whole host of places showcasing the best in live local music and theatre. The town also hosts various festivals and events throughout the year to showcase the town and its talent.
The Barnstaple Fringe takes place every June. It is a four-day feast of comedy, drama, street-theatre, dance, music, magic and more. It is a mix of local companies and touring acts, with performances at affordable prices. If you are in the area during this festival, be sure to check it out! Barnstaple hosts an arts festival each spring. BAF is a three-day festival spread across various Barnstaple venues, showcasing different art styles and character. From literature to photography, pottery and soap making, a range of workshops and exhibitions take place over the festival weekend.
The Barnstaple Carnival and Fair is held each September. It is the largest fair week in the West Country, with a Carnival closing the event. With the event being popular for both locals and visitors, be sure to book accommodation in advance! Check out our list of properties today to not miss out!
Barnstaple is the perfect place for dining out. With lots of independent restaurants in the area serving local produce, be sure to treat yourself to a dinner out on Your Devon Escape. And it is simply a must for you to try a Devonshire cream tea whilst in the town. With lots of cute cafés and tea rooms serving delicious scones, be sure to spread the cream on before the jam! Check out Tea by the Taw or The Cream Tea Café for the perfect cream tea.
The town is home to play cafés and parks, great for giving the kids a run around. Pack a picnic and enjoy a day of sun, exploring the outdoors in one of the many public spaces. Or on a rainy day, check out a play café, or the local cinema to keep everyone entertained.
Barnstaple is a good base for exploring Tarka Country and the one-hundred-and-eighty-mile Tarka Trail. Explore by foot or bike along the trail or take a trip by rail along the scenic Tarka Line. You can cycle or walk from Barnstaple to Instow Beach (around ten kilometres), and then travel up the Torridge Estuary towards Bideford, and even down the other side to Appledore if you desire! You’ll experience beautiful riverside views and unique fauna. It is a weather permitting activity, but it’s an enjoyable day out and a great way to see more of North Devon without needing a car. Be sure to check it out on Your Devon Escape.
If you need more walking options, Barnstaple is a stone’s through from both Dartmoor and Exmoor. Dartmoor National Park is a short drive south of Barnstaple. It is made up of wild, open moorlands and deep river valleys. The park is a unique place, being rich in history and rare wildlife. Barnstaple is west of Exmoor National Park, home to spectacular walks and scenery. Located on the coast, with expansive moorland, steep wooded valleys and rolling farmland, there is so much to explore. Both national parks are packed full of history and beautiful scenery, offering something unique. Be sure to check them out on Your Devon Escape. If you are more of a beaches and coast person, the lovely beaches of Saunton and Woolacombe are not too far away!
Although Barnstaple isn’t coastal, it is a great place to explore the coast from. North Devon has a beautiful stretch of beaches along its coastline, from sprawling sands to little coves. If you come to this pocket of the county without a car, or simply don’t want to drive, most of the area’s beaches are accessible by public transport. Make sure to check some of them out when visiting!
Barnstaple is the hub of North Devon, so be sure to check it out on Your Devon Escape!