We had a lovely weekend based in Bideford. We were on a coach trip from the Midlands and stayed at the excellent Royal Hotel, on the East by Water side of The Long Bridge. See separate review of the hotel in the hotel section. On our route down we called at Dartington Crystal which was very interesting. We arrived at the hotel at about four in the afternoon and after checking in, walked across the bridge into town. The starlings were flocking around doing that murmeration thing which was fascinating. Eventualy they roosted under the arches. Just had a general wander round the streets and quayside. The was a nice atmosphere in town. Made our way back to the hotel for a lovely dinner. We had the next morning free so we walked into town and up the steep hill to the pannier market. As it was quite early there wasn't much happening, but we thought it was a quirky place. We met back at the hotel at 1130 and made our way to Barnstable. As an ex civil engineer I was mightily impressed with the graceful high bridge at Bideford. This year the Autumn colours have been the best I can remember and the whole area was bathed in bright sunshine. Once in Barnstable we had a look round the excellent museum. The Tarka tableau is brilliant. We sat by the square and had coffe. We thought Barnstable was slightly more prosperous than Bideford, but not as interesting. At 1.30 we set off through magnificent country side to the NT property Arlington Hall. This was an excellent place packed with artefacts. I particuarly liked the model ships. We didn't have time to wander round the estate or visit the carriage museum, so that can wait till next time. The family who owned it owned vast areas of North Devon. Their estates gradually diminished and in 1949 the last of the line, rather than leave it to some distant relative ( like Sir Francis Chichester) gave it to the nation. So thanks for that. Then it was back to the hotel over Barnstables own high level bridge. Nice but not as good as Bidefords. Driving back down the Atlantic a Highway, nature put on a fantastic light show with vast shafts of sunlight forcing their way through the cloud banks. On the way back to the hotel the news filtered in from Birmingham B6..... Villa had beaten Blackburn. Brilliant. After another great meal at the hotel I fancied seeing some music, so I took a cab ( £3.00) from the hotel to the Joners Arms to see an excellent band.
Next morning was our last so after breakfast we headed homeward. En Route we called at Quince Honey Centre Bee place. Bees don't hibernate in the winter but are pretty dormant. So we were given a very entertaining talk by a bee keeper.
So that was our taster weekend in North Devon. We would have liked longer and will certainly be back.
PS Apparently there our plans afoot to develop the derelict site Brunswick Wharf, in front of the hotel. A developer has proposed housing, restaurants, shops etc. Unfortunately nothing has been started after several years, which is such a shame as it is a prime location. If I had the money, I'd do it meself.Edited: 07 November 2016, 06:49