Welcome to Barnstaple, a charming town located in North Devon. Whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor, there are plenty of exciting things to do and see here. From exploring historic landmarks and museums to enjoying scenic walks and wildlife sightings, this town has something for every kind of traveller. In this blog post, we have compiled the top 10 best things to do in Barnstaple that will make your visit truly memorable! So grab your camera and let’s explore the hidden gems of this picturesque town together!
Best Things to Do in Barnstaple – Top 10
1. Visit the Historic Barnstaple Pannier Market
A visit to Barnstaple Pannier Market is a must-do activity for anyone visiting the town. The market has been operating for over 160 years and continues to be one of the most vibrant markets in North Devon.
As you take a stroll through the market, you’ll be greeted by a wide range of local produce, crafts, antiques, and more. From handmade jewellery and pottery to fresh fruits and vegetables straight from local farms, there’s something here for everyone.
The market also offers an opportunity to interact with locals who are always happy to share stories about their wares or offer recommendations on what to buy. You can even grab some traditional Devonshire cream tea at one of the cafes or food stalls while soaking up the lively atmosphere.
Be sure not to miss out on this incredible experience that captures both Barnstaple’s history and contemporary culture!
2. Discover the History at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon
Step back in time and explore the rich history of Barnstaple and North Devon at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon. This fascinating museum is a must-visit for those interested in local heritage, culture, and art.
The museum features a variety of exhibits that showcase the area’s unique identity. You can learn about North Devon’s geology, archaeology, industry, trade, and commerce through interactive displays and informative panels.
One highlight of the museum is its collection of artwork from local artists. The paintings capture stunning landscapes, scenes from everyday life, and portraits that depict historic figures from the region.
Another exhibit worth checking out is “Barnstaple 360,” an immersive experience that takes visitors on a virtual tour of Barnstaple throughout different periods in history. From medieval times to modern-day developments, you’ll get to witness how the town has evolved over time.
Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for something interesting to do during your visit to Barnstaple, don’t miss out on exploring this gem of a museum!
3. Explore Arlington Court and the National Trust Carriage Museum
Arlington Court and National Trust Carriage Museum is a must-visit attraction in Barnstaple. The stunning gardens, woodlands, and Victorian mansion offer an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.
The 19th-century Regency house has been beautifully restored to its former glory with elegant rooms filled with exquisite furniture, paintings, and silverware. Visitors can also tour the impressive collection of historic carriages that range from horse-drawn coaches to luxurious cars.
The Carriage Museum houses one of Britain’s finest collections of vehicles used by the aristocracy during their travels. It boasts over 50 original carriages dating back to the late 18th century, each with its unique history waiting to be discovered.
Take a stroll through the beautiful gardens surrounding Arlington Court; it’s sure to take your breath away! With colourful flowers blooming throughout summer months – rhododendrons in spring – this place is perfect for nature lovers.
As you wander around these magnificent grounds, don’t forget to explore the nearby woodland trails where you’ll come across fascinating wildlife like deer and badgers!
Arlington Court should definitely make it onto your list if you’re visiting Barnstaple anytime soon! There are so many things here worth exploring – from touring the mansion itself or taking in some fresh air while walking around these amazing gardens or discovering incredible carriage collections – there really is something for everyone at this stunning venue!
4. Enjoy a Leisurely Stroll Along the Tarka Trail
The Tarka Trail is a beautiful walking and cycling route that takes you on a journey through stunning scenery. It follows the path of Tarka the Otter, the fictional character from Henry Williamson’s classic novel. The trail spans over 180 miles, but one of the most picturesque sections runs along the River Taw near Barnstaple.
As you stroll or bike along this section of the trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of rolling hills, tranquil valleys and ancient woodlands. You might even spot some wildlife along your way! Keep an eye out for kingfishers darting across the river or deer grazing in nearby fields.
Don’t worry if you don’t have your own bike – there are plenty of rental options available in Barnstaple and nearby towns. And if you’re feeling peckish during your walk or ride, there are several cafes and pubs dotted along the trail where you can stop for a delicious meal or refreshing drink.
Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll with family and friends or an active adventure exploring nature’s wonders, the Tarka Trail won’t disappoint. So next time you visit Barnstaple, make sure to add this scenic route to your itinerary!
5. Visit Marwood Hill Gardens
Marwood Hill Gardens offers a beautiful escape into nature, with stunning gardens that feature an impressive collection of plants and flowers. The gardens are particularly famous for their camellias and rhododendrons, which are in full bloom during the springtime.
As you explore the various pathways and trails throughout the gardens, you’ll discover hidden nooks and crannies filled with colourful blooms and lush greenery. Whether you’re an avid gardener or simply appreciate the beauty of nature, Marwood Hill Gardens is a must-visit destination in Barnstaple.
After taking in all of the natural beauty on offer, be sure to stop by the tea room for a delightful cream tea. Sit back and relax while enjoying freshly baked scones topped with clotted cream and jam, along with a piping hot cup of tea – it’s the perfect way to end your visit to this enchanting garden oasis.
Marwood Hill Gardens is one of Barnstaple’s most beloved attractions for good reason; its combination of natural beauty paired with delicious treats make it ideal for anyone looking for a relaxing day out surrounded by incredible flora.
6. Discover the History of the Area at Chambercombe Manor
Chambercombe Manor is a must-visit attraction for history buffs and ghost hunters alike. This 11th-century manor house boasts an intriguing past, filled with tales of hidden chambers and spooky apparitions.
During the guided tour, you’ll learn about the fascinating history of this ancient building, which has been home to many notable figures throughout the centuries. From smugglers and lords to clergymen and merchants, Chambercombe Manor has seen it all.
One of the most interesting aspects of Chambercombe Manor is its reputation for being haunted. Visitors have reported seeing apparitions in various parts of the house, including a lady in white who is said to roam the halls at night.
But whether or not you believe in ghosts, there’s no denying that Chambercombe Manor offers a unique glimpse into North Devon’s rich cultural heritage. The guides are knowledgeable and passionate about their subject matter, making for an informative and engaging tour.
So if you’re looking for something different to do during your stay in Barnstaple, be sure to add Chambercombe Manor to your itinerary. Who knows what secrets you might uncover during your visit?
7. Enjoy a Day Out at Exmoor Zoo
Exmoor Zoo is a must-visit attraction for animal lovers in Barnstaple. The zoo, located just a short drive away, is home to over 175 different species of animals from around the world. Among them are cheetahs, wolves, and meerkats.
The zoo has won numerous awards for its conservation efforts and educational programs. Visitors can learn about the various animals and their habitats through daily talks and feeding sessions with the keepers.
One of the unique features of Exmoor Zoo is its focus on rare and endangered species. Many of these animals are part of breeding programs aimed at preserving their populations in captivity as well as in the wild.
In addition to viewing the animals up close, visitors can also take part in hands-on experiences such as meeting and feeding lemurs or handling snakes during reptile encounters.
With so much to see and do at Exmoor Zoo, it’s easy to spend an entire day exploring all that this award-winning attraction has to offer.
8. Attend a Show at the Queen’s Theatre
The Queen’s Theatre is a must-visit destination for anyone with an interest in the performing arts. This local theatre hosts a variety of shows throughout the year, including plays, musicals, and live performances.
Situated in the heart of Barnstaple, this historic venue offers a unique blend of traditional charm and modern amenities. Inside, you’ll find comfortable seating and state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems that ensure every performance is a memorable experience.
Whether you’re looking to catch an award-winning drama or dance along to your favourite musical numbers, there’s something for everyone at the Queen’s Theatre. You can even book tickets online to avoid any last-minute disappointment!
Attending a show at this iconic venue is more than just entertainment; it’s also an opportunity to support local artists and performers who work tirelessly to bring their productions to life.
So why not add attending a show at the Queen’s Theatre to your list of things to do in Barnstaple? With its rich history and diverse range of performances on offer, it promises an unforgettable night out for all ages!
9. Explore the Taw Estuary
The Taw Estuary is a stunning natural attraction that offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely boat trip or a scenic walk along its shores. The estuary is home to an abundance of birdlife, making it a popular spot for birdwatchers.
As you stroll along the banks of the Taw Estuary, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the lush green landscape and tranquil waters. You may even spot seals basking on sandbanks or dolphins swimming in the distance.
Boat trips are available for those who prefer a more relaxed way to take in the scenery. On these trips, experienced guides will offer insights into local history and wildlife as you cruise down this picturesque waterway.
For those who prefer to stay on land, there are plenty of footpaths and trails that provide access to different areas along the estuary. Be sure to bring your camera – there’s no shortage of photo opportunities here!
Whether by boat or on foot, exploring the Taw Estuary is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Barnstaple. It’s an experience that’s both relaxing and invigorating – perfect for nature lovers looking for some peace and quiet away from city life.
10. Take a Day Trip to Lundy Island
Lundy Island is a hidden gem that is definitely worth visiting during your trip to Barnstaple. Located just off the coast of Devon, this small island offers an unforgettable day trip for nature lovers and history buffs alike.
Embark on a boat trip from nearby Ilfracombe and enjoy scenic views of the coastline as you make your way towards Lundy Island. Keep an eye out for dolphins or even seals swimming alongside the boat!
Upon arrival, explore the island’s walking trails and take in its stunning natural beauty. Lundy Island has been designated as a Marine Nature Reserve since 1986, making it home to all kinds of fascinating wildlife – from seabirds to puffins.
Be sure to visit the historic castle and lighthouse while you’re there too. The castle was built in the 13th century by Henry III and played a vital role in defending against pirate attacks throughout history.
Taking a day trip to Lundy Island is an experience like no other. It’s perfect for those who want to get away from city life and immerse themselves in nature while learning about local history at the same time. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!
Barnstaple offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, nature, or just having fun with family and friends, there’s something for everyone in this charming town. From exploring the vibrant Pannier Market to taking a boat trip along the beautiful Taw Estuary or visiting Lundy Island, there are endless possibilities for adventure and discovery. So why not plan your next getaway to Barnstaple? You won’t be disappointed!
FAQs on Things to Do in Barnstaple
1. Is Barnstaple worth a visit?
Barnstaple is definitely worth a visit, especially if you enjoy exploring historical towns with a rich heritage. It offers a charming atmosphere, picturesque surroundings, and a range of attractions, including the historic Pannier Market, museums, beautiful gardens, and nearby beaches. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor activities, or simply enjoying the local culture, Barnstaple has something to offer visitors.
2. What was Barnstaple famous for?
Barnstaple is historically known for its significance as a market town and its role as a centre for trade and commerce in North Devon. The town’s Pannier Market has been operating for over 160 years and continues to be a hub for local produce, crafts, and antiques. Additionally, Barnstaple has a rich maritime history, being located near the Taw Estuary and having connections to the fishing and shipbuilding industries.
3. Is Barnstaple a nice place to live?
Barnstaple is generally considered a pleasant place to live. It offers a mix of amenities, including shops, restaurants, schools, and recreational facilities. The town has a friendly community feel and is surrounded by beautiful countryside and coastline. Barnstaple also benefits from good transport links, making it accessible to other parts of Devon and beyond. Ultimately, whether Barnstaple is a nice place to live depends on individual preferences and priorities.
4. Is Barnstaple good for shopping?
Barnstaple is known for its shopping opportunities, particularly in its High Street area. You’ll find a mix of well-known retail stores, independent boutiques, antique shops, and local businesses, offering a variety of products. The town’s Pannier Market is also a popular shopping destination, where you can find a range of local produce, crafts, and unique items. Whether you’re looking for fashion, homeware, or local specialities, Barnstaple provides options for a satisfying shopping experience.