Lots to love about Bideford. Spanning the River Torridge in North Devon, it’s one of Muddy’s favourite day trips. Park up near the excellent Burton at Bideford Art Gallery and Museum, amble around Victoria Park and blow away the cobwebs with a walk along the riverside. Then it’s straight for a rootle around the town’s indie shops – Mill Street is your place – including Muddy Award winning ethical homeware store Sunshine & Snow, Amy Eira Jewellery and the restaurant at The Royal Hotel.
Unlike so many towns, Bideford’s streets are rammed with traditional butchers, grocers, florists, a Victorian Pannier Market, and a monthly farmers’ market. With 80 independent shops and 50+ indie cafés, bars eateries and oodles of events, from live music to stained glass workshops and yoga, there’s always something going on. We love its quirk and character, especially evident when the Water Festival and bonkers Cardboard Boat Regatta takes to the river in summer.
The town is known for its long maritime history and as the setting for Henry Williamson’s 1927 novel, Tarka the Otter. Look out for the bronze statue dedicated to the furry critter by his haunt of the River Torridge. It’s next to the aptly named medieval Long Bridge which spans a whopping 670ft and is held aloft with 24 arches.
Other must-sees and dos: hire a bike from Skern Lodge for a pedal along the Tarka Trail, a 180-mile loop along the former railway line; head to Butcher’s Row for local crafts; take a trip from the Quay to Lundy Island to see the puffins; make a date for their many annual events and festivals, including EAT in April, The Bike Show in May, September’s Town Carnival and the Christmas Market and Light Switch on in December; when it’s hot head to the splash pool in Victoria Park and do, do, DO try a Hockings clotted cream ice-cream, made here since the 1930s and sold from their vintage vans.
Mine’s two scoops – see you there!