Appledore and Instow

Appledore and Instow

The seaside villages of Appledore and Instow sit face-to-face on opposite sides of the Torridge Estuary on the North Devon coast, connected by the Appledore Instow ferry. Famed for fishing and sailing, these picturesque maritime villages harbour rich history and thriving communities, making them sought-after destinations for dreamy days out.

If you’re looking forward to a day exploring Appledore and Instow, you’ll find ample to see and do. On the west side of the river, Appledore paints a colourful scene with brightly painted cottages and pedestrian lanes strung with fluttering bunting. With clinking masts and cawing gulls, this quintessential fishing village exudes seaside charm, and is particularly well-known for its bustling quayside, local art galleries and popular eateries.

Meanwhile, on the east bank of the river is Instow. With white-washed cottages set against a greenery-clad coastline, this picturesque gem is quite the head-turner. Home to a waterside cricket pitch, thriving yacht club, gorgeous sandy beach and a number of shops and eateries, it is a picture of North Devon loveliness. Whether you’re pulling a kayak down to the water’s edge, exploring its pretty streets or relaxing on the beach with an ice cream, you’ll find happiness by the bucket and spade-full here.

A view of Appledore at night-time from Instow with the lights of the village twinkling in the water of the estuary

Things to Do in Appledore and Instow

North Devon Maritime Museum, Appledore

With a long tradition of fishing and boatbuilding, Appledore’s maritime history dates back centuries. Amongst its closely packed jumble of Elizabethan cottages, Georgian shipwright’s homes and Victorian sail lofts is the North Devon Maritime Museum. A handsome, Grade II listed building with white walls and blue sills, it welcomes visitors to learn all about the village’s fascinating heritage. Inside, find various collections and exhibits detailing everything from the area’s Viking raids to WWII beach landings to boatbuilding.

Applecorers, Appledore

If you can time your trip to Appledore with an evening with the Applecorers then you’re in for a treat. A community sea shanty group, the Applecorers imbue a sense of nostalgic whimsy and fierce pride with their renditions of traditional sea shanties. Singing rousing maritime songs of the sea once chanted by working sailors rhythmically working through their labours, their songs never fail to enrapture audiences and inspire heartfelt singalongs.

Appledore Book Festival

The colourful houses of the seaside village of Appledore

Held each year in September, Appledore Book Festival draws literary fans from near and far. Celebrating literature and the arts, this seaside festival was established by Nick Arnold (author of Horrible Science) and has now become one of the biggest of its kind in the South West. Spanning for over a week, it features talks from acclaimed international authors and all sorts of family-friendly activities to unite all generations of book-lovers.

Appledore to Instow Ferry

One of the best things to do in North Devon, a passage on the Appledore to Instow ferry is a must when in the area. Running seasonally in the summer, this volunteer-run service allows passengers to cross the estuary between Appledore and Instow in windswept style. Departing every 15 minutes or so and running for around 10 minutes, it provides a novel way to explore the two villages and affords beautiful views of the coast, including the vast network of sand dunes at Braunton Burrows – the largest natural expanse of dunes in the UK.

Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! beach at sunset

Less than 3 miles from Appledore is Westward Ho!. Named after Charles Kingsley’s book of the same name, this delightful seaside village is famed for its gorgeous sunsets and Blue Flag beach which extends for over 2 miles along the coast. A popular location for surfing when the waves roll in and a great spot for swimming when it's calm, it is especially attractive to water-lovers who flock to its shores for doses of vitamin sea. 

Instow Beach

Whether you’re heading out onto the water with Instow Yacht Club, enjoying a game of beach cricket on the shoreline, or snoozing on the sand under the wide brim of a sun hat, Instow’s dog-friendly beach has something for everyone. Close to the village’s medley of shops and cafés, it’s lovely for alfresco picnics of sweets and savouries from the local Johns of Instow delicatessen, tucking in as boats meander up and down the silvery estuary.  

Appledore and Instow Regatta

The Appledore and Instow Regatta is a long-running festival celebrating the area’s maritime history. Testing sailing skills, endurance and know-how, it involves a number of events and races across the course of several days, usually between July and August each year. With lots of action and activity on the water for your entertainment and stalls and exhibits on the villages’ waterfronts for your perusal, it promises plenty of fun for all.

Tarka Trail, Instow

The Tarka Trail lined by trees under a blue sky

The 180-mile Tarka Trail is a long-distance walking and cycling route that traverses North Devon and Exmoor, following the course of an old railway line. The longest, traffic-free cycle route in the country, it's really popular with cyclists who make use of its wonderfully level terrain to glide past breath-taking country and coast. From Instow, you can follow the figure-of-eight trail north or south as far as you like, freewheeling through the glorious landscapes of North Devon.

Tapeley Park, Instow

Just outside of Instow village in the parish of Westleigh, Tapeley Park enjoys a beautiful hilltop aspect overlooking the River Torridge and coastline beyond. Part of the Christie Devon Estates, it has been home to the same family for more than two centuries. These days, Tapeley Park’s sprawling grounds and sun-kissed gardens are open to the public in summer, providing a tranquil sanctuary for relaxation and contemplation. Follow the flow of its manicured lawns and bask in the abundant beauty of this resplendent family home.

Places to Eat and Drink

The Royal George, Appledore

A table and chairs overlooking the water at The Royal George in Appledore

One of the best places to eat in Devon, The Royal George is a multi-award-winning restaurant overlooking the water in Appledore. Three-time gold winner of the Taste of the West awards and enjoying two AA Rosettes for culinary excellence, it promises flavourful dishes as fine as its views.

The Coffee Cabin, Appledore

Whether you’re looking to dine or want to whisk away some treats to the beach, The Coffee Cabin beckons. An independent coffee shop specialising in light lunches and home-baked cakes, this inviting hub is full of friendly, welcoming vibes and wafts with aromatic aromas to tempt all tastes.

The Yard, Appledore

A popular, dog-friendly wine bar and kitchen, The Yard is the place to go for ambience and cocktails on tap. Sharing craft beers from local breweries, wine from local vineyards and a menu of locally-sourced fare, the drinks and food menus offer an authentically delicious taste of Devon.

Flame Factory, Appledore

The facade of the Flame Factory illuminated by warm light in the evening with diners inside enjoying the ambience and food

The Flame Factory is located on the quayside in Appledore and overlooks the glistening waters of the estuary. Offering flame-grilled feasts full of flavour, house specialities include wood-fired pizza, burgers and steaks from rare-breed, grass-fed Clovelly Longhorn cattle. Take-away is also available.

Market Street Kitchen, Appledore

A local’s favourite tucked behind the quay front in Appledore, Market Street Kitchen is a foodie haven. Home to a welcoming café and a suntrap secret garden, it makes for a wonderful location to savour a delicious breakfast, leisurely light lunch or afternoon cream tea in the sunshine.

The Beaver Inn, Appledore

The Beaver Inn is a cheerful pub with stunning sea views. For hungry tums, a set menu is accompanied by an ever-updated specials board, proffering fresh-from-the-boat fish and seasonal favourites. Take a seat in the restaurant, dog-friendly bar or beer garden and enjoy the friendly service.

The Boathouse, Instow

The sun-kissed terrace of The Boathouse in Instow overlooking the water

One of the best places to eat in Instow, The Boat House takes pride of place next to the water and boasts divine views. Particularly spectacular during sundowner sessions, the location here can be enjoyed alongside menus of fresh dishes and fine wines. Seafood is especially popular here.

The Glorious Oyster, Instow

For some of the best seafood in North Devon, head over to The Glorious Oyster in Instow. Serving up award-winning seafood from their beach café and food shack, this is the place to go for the tastiest oysters. If you’d prefer a sweet bite, coffee and cake are on offer too.

Instow Arms, Instow

Set in a grand, period building on the waterfront, Instow Arms is a fantastic restaurant and bar. With spacious yet comfortable interiors, a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere, and a menu of freshly-cooked dishes with ingredients plucked from land and sea, it is sure to be a favourite in no time.

Can’t wait to discover Appledore and Instow? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Devon

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