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Waters Edge, Instow

Fancy an easy-peasy family rental with a beach and cool pit-stops right on your doorstep? Muddy heads to the river for the inside on Instow 

THE LOWDOWN

With river views and a sandy beach just down the road, Waters Edge is everything it says on the tin, and more. Sitting pretty next to the River Torridge, this shuttered Georgian house has all you need right on your doorstep, including a top-notch deli-caf, three pubs, a ferry over to the fishing village of Appledore and the Tarka Trail for walks and bike rides. Park up, hang up the car keys and hang out with the family for a de-frazzle.

 

THE LOCATION

Instow is the smaller, sleepier, sister to Appledore, with families playing on the beach and friendly locals who seemed genuinely pleased to share their lovely village with you, not like some seaside destinations where tourist fatigue has set in.

If you don’t mind hopping back in the car, the surfers’ paradise of Croyde is half an hour away, and the beach at Braunton just 20 minutes, perfect for body boarding with the Mudlets.

Being so far off the beaten M5 track, this part of North Devon retains an undiscovered indie charm but some quality pubs and eateries are moving in, including The Farmers Arms in  Woolsery 12 miles away (review here – it’s AMAZING) and the souped-up Royal George a ferry-ride away at Appledore.

 

THE VIBE

This is a beaut of a three-bedroom house, light and airy and set over three floors. It’s all about that river view. Throw open those French doors onto a wrought-iron balcony and breathe in the sea air. Watch the boats bobbing about and lose an hour just people-watching as the tide rolls gently in and out. Or sit back and daydream on the squashy sofas in the living room, with views of the sky outside and Sky TV and a cinema night inside.

The sun shone during our Easter hols break, but the reflected light off the water creates such high light levels, a stay here is like time travelling to summer. The days draw out in Instow thanks to the evening sun and those sunsets are total Instagram fodder, adding a real feel-good factor to the stay.

The house has a beachy New England vibe with wooden floors and simple furniture painted in skimming stone neutrals and duck egg blues. Reverse living makes the most of those views, with the living room on the first floor and bedrooms spread across all three. 

There’s a small dining room and kitchen to the rear, overlooking a decked courtyard with BBQ and table and chairs for outdoor dining but to be honest the abundance of outdoorsiness here means you probably won’t need it.

The kids loved the hidey-hole attic room, with stair-gated steps hidden behind a door and a high Paddington window-sill overlooking the river-boats, with three single beds and a wooden cot.

 

FACILITIES 

There’s everything you need to make life simple: a dish-washer, washing machine, microwave and a blue SMEG fridge, with a welcome bottle of fizz and today’s newspaper left waiting for us, along with some thoughtful breakfast ingredients and sweet stuff. 

The other easy-peasy element – and this is a boon in a coastal town where parking is often scarce – there was private parking space for two cars, ideal if you’re coming with another family (it sleeps 7 plus a baby/toddler).

 

PILLOW TALK

You have two double bedrooms to choose from, both with plumptious hard-to-leave kingsize beds – one at the front on the ground floor with Sky TV for bed telly and one at the back without. Guess which we chose! You can sit in bed with your morning cuppa and see the river and early-morning strollers by from your pillow. Despite being at road-level, it was so peaceful and quiet, yet you have the comfort of knowing if you’ve forgotten the shampoo it’s a thirty seconds’ walk to John’s Deli (and that the Brancott Sauvignon is only £7.49, cheaper than my local Sainbury’s).

 

KID-FRIENDLY

Totally. Hand-made wooden stairgates (painted to match the tasteful colourscheme); a bed guard if you need it, plus a wooden highchair, basket of toys in the living room and you could easily get three littlies splashing about in that massive bath.

 

OUT AND ABOUT

Pack the flip-flops, Instow beach is a 30m stroll away, and all on the flat, so no steps to lug provisions and pushchairs up and down. Though signs say ‘no swimming’ the large long sands are perfect for castle building and playing frisbee, with dunes for Mudlets to raucously roll down (while kicking sand over their mother).

I could have spent hours perusing the local goodies in John’s deli and cafe practically next door, perfectly positioned for takeaway cappuccino and bakery bread, and acres of Devon gin.

Mr Muddy and I braved a morning jog *stagger*, along the beach, cutting across the dunes onto the Tarka Trail, which loops through the village. It joins an 180-mile figure of eight from Ilfracombe to Okehampton though we ran just the two, after drinks and a fish supper at the The Boathouse (with its popular open air terrace on the first floor overlooking the beach) the night before.

The Appledore-Instow ferry runs daily from April to October, though only for a few hours a day when the high tide and weather allows, so check the timetables. We had a wander round Appledore’s narrow back streets to check out the galleries and craft shops then headed to Irisha Street to see the pretty painted fishing cottages and the newly revamped Royal George with its terrace.

And you can’t go to north Devon without having an ice-cream from the locals’ favourite Hocking’s with its traditional flake cones van parked on the sea-front. 

Should you hanker for retail clothes therapy, pop into South Molton for seriously good value slouchy tops and bags from Paula and Julia.

 

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: families after easy beach living; beach and boat-lovers, walkers and wildlife watchers; kite-fliers, sailors and cyclists; dogs and young kids. 

Not for: two nights, the minimum is three. A couple might find the space a bit baggy.

The damage: An Easter break cost £600 for three nights.

Waters Edge can be booked through English Country Cottages, property reference ‘Waters Edge HLLW’. 

Find more family getaways here.

Find more ideas here

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