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Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! is a delightful seaside village near Bideford in the north of Devon. The name came from a Charles Kingsley book, also titled Westward Ho!, that was a best seller and brought a new wave of tourism to the Bideford area leading to the creation of village. It isn’t just how the village was named that makes it unusual, it is also the only place in the British Isles that features an exclamation mark as part of its name.

The village is best known for its seafront which, like many of the spots in North Devon, is popular with surfers and swimmers. The water leads onto a large expanse of clean sand backed by a pebble ridge and grasslands, offering the right landscape for several different beach activities including rock pooling, sand castle building and picnics.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The seafront and the part of the village leading down to the water are part of a Natural Landscape (AONB) which covers the majority of Devon’s north coast.

The Natural Landscape (AONB) includes the beach which is one of a number of Blue Flag rated beaches in this region. During the summer life guards are stationed making it one of the safest in Devon for swimming and water sports. Like much of the coastline in this area of Devon, the current makes conditions perfect for a number of water based activities and the village is popular with those that like surfing, as such you’ll find a host of organisations renting equipment and offering lessons in a wide range of sports including paddle boarding and kayaking. There are also a number of businesses based in the village who offer training sessions and tours of the coastline by boat or board, so those of you interested in a sightseeing tour with a difference can really learn more about this fascinating village from the water.

The village is an ideal spot for anyone wanting to get back to nature as it is surrounded by the beauty of the natural world including cliffs, fields and an estuary.

Dog friendly

Westward Ho! is one of the most welcoming places in the south west when it comes to dogs. Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round, with restrictions in place during the summer. Signs around the beach provide handy maps so dog owners will know where they can go and alternative routes for those exploring with their dogs by foot.

Seaside traditions

Having gained popularity in Victorian times, Westward Ho! has maintained much of the traditional seaside facilities of that era. Attractions include a tidal lido as well as arcades which have been updated and renovated to keep up with the times. Another popular attraction in the town is the Go-Kart Track.


In popular culture…

As well as gaining popularity thanks to a book, Westward Ho! is also mentioned in a song by Half Man Half Biscuit reminiscing about holidaying in the town and is also included in a set of short stories by Rudyard Kipling. The poet and author, best known for the Jungle Book, grew up in Westward Ho! attending school there, his collection of stories, Stalky and Co, is based on his experiences while at school in the village, to commemorate this, you’ll find the first stanza of his poem, If, set into the pavement on the promenade.


Things to do…

Being a popular destination and centrally located, there are plenty of things to occupy you in and around Westward Ho!. There are a number of charming cafes and tearooms as well as restaurants and takeaways within the village making it an ideal spot for self-catering holidays.

Explore Westward Ho!

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