Category Archives: Holidays for couples

Appledore and Northam Burrows

Narrow streets of the traditional fishing village at Appledore.

Across the River Taw Estuary is the historic fishing village of Appledore with a lively community spirit and home to the RNLI lifeboat station and the ‘Mollie Hunt’ lifeboat, which it often seen moored just off shore in the estuary. A pleasant 10 minute walk along a quaint narrow street of old fishermen’s houses, will take you to the lifeboat station and passes 2 historic  pubs on the way.

Along the sea front at Appledore

With slipways running between the houses, it is easy to imagine times when the village had a much busier working quay and dry docks and the ferry man still crossed to Crow Point and Vellator Quay in Braunton.

Today there are still fishing boats moored at the Quay, and upriver the boatyards and yards where stone is off loaded.  Most recreational boats are moored over the Torridge estuary at Instow, and make for a lively water scene at high tide. The day we visited a Gig race was taking place in Appledore.

Appledore hosts an annual book festival in September, and with Jeremy Vine as patron this festival is growing in status year on year. We went to hear Tim Waterstone speak very candidily of his early life and his business philosophy.  With authors such as Raynor Winn, George Alagiah, Lemn Sissay and Jenny Eclair is really was a big success and something to book ahead for next year.

Appledore is also know for the visual arts and has an Art Festival every year too. There are a number of artists based around the village, so it’s a fun place to explore for galleries.

Boats at Appledore

We did a little research on the cafe scene whilst there too! Our favourite in Appledore is still The Coffee Cabin, it is a tiny cafe, with great standards and a super selection of breakfast, lunch and cakes. With my dairy and gluten intolerance, I am always on the look out for a tasty cake and that day they had a layered honey and cinammon cake which ticked my free-from boxes and was loaded with flavour.

The Coffee Cabin

Market Street Kitchen is tucked away on one of the narrow lanes behind the Quay and has a hidden garden though the back of the cafe. It does some delicious sandwiches and light lunches.

If you fancy an ice-cream than the local Hockings ice cream is the one to try. Considered the best in the area, the Hockings van can be found at the corner of the Quay near the bus stop.

If you are travelling by Satgecoach 21A you can grab an ice cream whilst you wait for the return bus! Some of the Stagecoach buses run from West Meadow Road, our nearest stop, all the way to Appledore. You’ll want a little patience and a comfy seat as the bus goes via Barnstaple bus station and all the places in between, so it’s not the quickest trip!

If you are cycling the Tarka Trail, then Appledore is across the River Torridge from Instow.  A ferry runs April to October for as little as 2-3 hours a day, so although it looks quite near, check the timetables before you plan this, or be prepared to cycle inland to the bridges that cross the Taw closer to Bideford.

An amazing pebble beach and a popular destination for kitesurfing at Northam Burrows.

Making the most of our journey around the estuary we continued on to Northam Burrows and parked up for a walk on the pebble ridge. From here you can see the views back to Saunton Sands and enjoy the wildness of the estuary mouth.

The wild estuary coastline of Northam Burrows.

Our Guide to Romantic Sunsets in North Devon

Treat your partner to a romantic break at The Gallery Lodges.

Braunton is the gateway to North Devon’s romantic sunset coast.

Braunton is the gateway to North Devon’s sunset coast.

As I finished some hedgerow maintenance today, I was greeted by a stunning winter sunset over the reed grasses in the neighbouring nature reserve. I down-tooled and enjoyed the colours and the sounds of the birds going to roost. Caught up in the moment, I forgot to take a photo but inspired by the romance of the moment, I decided to share some ideas for the most romantic ways to enjoy the setting sun.

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A perfect end to a perfect day.

Romance at Sunset.Braunton is just a 5 minute drive from Saunton Sands. Here you can take a walk along the expansive beach and find your own private hollow in the dunes to tuck away and watch the setting sun. Take a cosy blanket to snuggle up together, against the sea breeze and maybe open a bottle of fizz (remember to bring all your bottles and waste away with you). I also recommend heading back to the excellent Beachside Grill for a G&T on their sea view terrace. With views from Hartland Point to Lundy Island, this is a big sunset scene.

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Rocky inlets at Down End Croyde create a secluded place to watch the sunset over the ocean.

Sunset Drive. Drive along Down End Headland between Saunton and Croyde and see the sunset in all it’s glory. You might find a pull in on the roadside or park up at Down End car park and take a short walk onto the rocky shoreline where you will discover the perfect Secluded Beaches for your sunset romance. This is also a wonderful place to collect some driftwood and make a small beach camp fire. Maybe cook some corn on the cob, jacket spuds or toast marshmallows. Bring out the guitar and serenade your loved one too!

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Collect some drift wood for a campfire on the beach.

Surf into the sunset. Saunton Sands and Croyde Bay are surfing hotspots and on a long, warm summer evening there is nothing like bobbing about in the waves as the sun goes down. Soak up the atmosphere beyond the break, where the sea takes on a new sparkle, the sky becomes ablaze with colour, and the sea quietens your mind. Whether you are a swimmer, surfer or stand up paddle boarder this can be a romance in itself, so don’t forget your partner on this one!!

Surfing into the sunset at Saunton sands

Sunset Yoga. For a truly freeing, uplifting and relaxing experience how about having a yoga session on the beach at sunset. Relaxing to the sounds of the sea, with the sky above and the sand below is unforgettable. Croyde Yoga run a Wednesday drop in session at Croyde Village Hall and take to the beach on summer evenings. Find their up-to-date schedule on Facebook. Or how about a private yoga session with SeatoSoul, just for you and your partner.

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Sunset View points. If you both enjoy a coastal walk we recommend the short climb up Middleborough Hill to see the views out to sea over Croyde Bay or walk along the coast path towards Baggy Point. Find a bench to watch the seabirds heading on shore to roost, and the waves rolling in. Both offer wonderful vantage points for watching the sunset and are easily accessed from the National Trust Car Park at Croyde.

And finally, simply unwind into an evening together at The Gallery Lodges. Sitting outside on your deck with a glass of wine or taking a walk in the meadow you will be able to see the colourful skies and watch nature turn in for another day, you might catch a fleeting glimpse of the barn owl. What’s more you will find at least one of Pete’s stunning sunset paintings in your lodge, which have been inspired by our life in Braunton and the beautiful sunset coast.

Lodge 1 living space, looking in through the entrance doors from the deck.
Lodge 1 living space, looking in through the entrance doors from the deck.

See more of Pete Caswell’s amazing sunset paintings at

Tunnels Beaches and Wedding Venue at Ilfracombe

When the sea is calm and the sun is out  how about visiting Tunnels Beaches, Ilfracombe’s hidden seaside?

These private beaches charge £2.50 for adults.  Accessed by tunnels carved in 1823, you can step into a secluded area beneath the cliffs, where there is still an original bathing pool as well as lots of rocky outcrops and beach. 

The tunneled entrance has historic signs and old news paper stories from the beaches.

No dogs are allowed on the beaches, but expect a few seagulls nesting in the cliffs behind the beach. 


We visited on a hot, still June afternoon and even dared a cooling swim in the cold water off the rocks, which was beautiful. Lots of seaweed in the rock pools is a testament to the clean waters and the beach was beautifully litter free too!

Most were bathing in the pool which no doubt warms up much more quickly than the open sea and is of course much safer as there are usually waves making rock swimming more hazardous!

If a dip isn’t for you, then deck chairs are available.

The beach has a small snack bar and shop. There was a limited choice of eats so we headed back into town for lunch, (we could have re-entered on the same entrance fee). There are a good selection of places to eat along the front at Ilfracombe near North Devon Theatre, including a busy Weatherspoons with a rooftop sun-terrace, which is open if the weather is right.

View towards Ilfracombe Theatre from Tunnels Beaches

View towards Ilfracombe Torrs from Tunnels Beaches

Tunnels Beaches also has a very popular wedding venue and we are delighted to have had honeymoon couples stay at the lodges, as well as wedding guests.

Whilst in Ilfracombe it’s also worth a walk to the lovely harbour and to take a look at Damien Hirst’s scuplture – Verity, who looms over the harbour mouth. Follow this link to see the sculpture.