Things to Do in Barnstaple
Barnstaple is a wonderful town in North Devon featuring a range of great bars, restaurants and high street shops as well as premier attractions to suit all ages, tastes and budgets. By basing yourself in Barnstaple, you are putting yourself in easy reach of north Devon’s beautiful coastline as well as Exmoor’s National Park which is just a few miles away.
Historically, Barnstaple is significant in Devon’s wider heritage having received its town charter back in the year 930. The town’s residents are proud of their wide and varied history and as such, visitors will find several events and attractions that showcase Barnstaple through the ages. Other than the historical aspect, Barnstaple is culturally important because of Tarka the Otter and the Tarka Trail which inspired the fictional creature’s name. The novel by Henry Williamson is based in this region of Devon and as such you’ll find plenty of activities and attractions bearing Tarka’s name and likeness. The Tarka Trail which is loved by cyclists and walkers alike can also be accessed while in Barnstaple, making it the ideal destination for anyone looking for an active holiday. The South West Coast Path can also be picked up in this area for anyone who wants to venture along the coastal paths and cliff tops.
Being one of North Devon’s popular holiday destinations, there are plenty of things to do on Barnstaple’s bustling streets, so whether you are looking for something to eat, live music, a theatre performance or something else entirely, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. One of the biggest drawers to the town is the historical Pannier Market which has housed regular markets in the town for over 1,000 years. The building that you see now has been standing since the 1800s and consists of iron columns supporting a roof made from glass and timber. Traders are open for business here six days a week with a variety of stalls selling all manner of items from food, arts and collectables.
Alongside the Pannier Market, you’ll find Butchers’ Row, a terrace of ten shops under an iron roof, the name comes from the fact that it used to only house butchers, but these days you’ll find a whole host of interesting independent stores.
It isn’t just a haven for shoppers, Barnstaple is also a cultural hub for artists and historians. Next to the library, you’ll find the remains of Barnstaple Castle. This former motte and bailey castle was built in Norman times and is now known locally as Castle Green. The motte was built on top of what is believed to be a Saxon graveyard and was further landscaped during the Victorian era, climbers are welcome to make their way to the top which has benches offering lovely views across the Taw Valley.
Barnstaple is also home to a number of museums where you can find remains of the Barnstaple Elephant which was discovered in the town in the 1800s and supposedly belonged to a species of elephant that died out in the UK some 115,000 years ago.