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Abtot Logo. Encounter Walking Holidays member number 5357


Barnstaple is the largest town in North Devon and has been a centre of sorts since Norman times, sitting strategically at the head of the Taw estuary.  These days its importance locally is guaranteed by a railway station linking to Exeter and the wider world, a bus station offering public transport to other parts of North Devon, a hospital and other services and administrations necessary to maintain a (fairly!) civilised infrastructure in the 21st century.

One of the first four boroughs in England with the right to mint coin having been granted during the 10th century.  other relics of the past include bullet holes from the Civil War in the doors of the almshouses, a 12th century parish church and the Castle Mound, originally the base of a wooden Norman Keep. 

Once the river silted up and the port was lost the town lost some of its historical importance, but it remains a geographical hub for North Devon and a pleasant place to visit.

As the region's major town as you would imagine for the walker pretty much everything is on offer here with good restaurants, B&B's town guesthouses and smart riverside hotels.

Those with the time to explore will enjoy the fascinating daily Pannier Market which was built in 1855.   Named after the baskets used to bring produce in, today the type of goods on offer are determined by the day of the week but it is always full of surprises.

Delis, art galleries, a Guildhall and cafes fill the old section of town making it pleasant place to explore and there is a Regional Museum which is worth visiting.

This is the first place in around 100 miles of coastline with a busy cinema AND a theatre ...and it will be the last for another 100 miles or so! Do make the most of these cultural activities if you wish.

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