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North Devon Nostalgia: Childhood Memories

23rd August 2019

Categories: Visitor News

North Devon Nostalgia: Childhood Memories 

(Source: @AJBrodrick, Twitter.)

North Devon holds a special place in many hearts and for many different reasons. Be it a special place to grow up or a dream location to relocate to, whatever attracts you to this beautiful part of the country, one thing is for certain - a lot of us discovered North Devon through a holiday! For us holiday makers or ‘grockles’, the whimsical countryside, the friendly locals, the crash of the waves and the sense of pure escape are just some of the things that draw us to this part of the world. Those hazy memories of running along Westward Ho! beach, kite in hand or biting into my first Devon cream tea are all part of what makes this place undeniably special to me and what inspired my family to make their  transition from holiday makers to locals!

(Source: Phil Beer)

The announcement that we were ‘going to North Devon for the summer holidays’ always came as a pleasant surprise when I was younger. North Devon felt like this very far away, magical place that only Dad and Mum could transport us to - so we were naturally, very excited! We stayed in rustic farm cottages, fun holiday parks and grand hotels but our favourite past-time was always camping! The tents were packed into the car and we’d set off, ready for another fun-filled family holiday! On the way down, the car was always filled with a chorus of ‘Are we there yet?’ and plenty of games of ‘I Spy’ - we’re also pretty sure we saw the Exmoor Beast (I’m still sad that no one believes me)! 

(Source: Mark Clinton Johnson)

I truly believe that experiencing the countryside in North Devon is incomparable to anywhere else and camping was a real experience to treasure! We stayed at Hidden Valley, near Woolacombe. Nestled in amongst picturesque woodland, it really did feel like a hidden gem! Perfectly manicured pitches paired with a sunny evening meant that the tent was up in no time. Dad would always take a big breath of Devon air, start the BBQ and smile at us as if to say “We’re finally here kids!. I met some wonderful friends here, other children on their summer holidays too! Scampering through the trees and disappearing into a world of our creation, surrounded by the most paradisiacal English countryside is a memory I’ll always cherish. 

(Source: Hidden Valley Camping)

The days were always filled with beaches, seaside towns, rock-pooling, exploring and plenty of Hockings Ice Cream, of course! This type of vast countryside was something we weren’t accustomed to and provided an endless world of exploration for me and my brother. Trekking up bubbling streams, running through storybook-esque woodland, collecting unique shells - we thought they’d make us rich, we must have been the ONLY children who were smart enough to collect them right? Combe Martin was the place we discovered our first crab whilst rockpooling, my brother also fell in - I’ll never forget Mum diving in to rescue him! We discovered the impressive dunes at Saunton Beach, running through this infinite, ethereal landscape felt like we were on another planet! We oggled the dinosaurs at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park (they’re definitely real) and tasted some of the best honey at Quince Honey Farm. There was just so much to do and every day was an exciting, new adventure!

(Source: Quince Honey Farm)

Of course, how can we forget the food! Do you remember your first time sampling Hockings Ice Cream? We certainly do! Perched on a bench, overlooking Westward Ho! Beach, after exhausting ourselves, this cold treat was just what we needed! Once you’ve tried a Hockings, no other ice cream can compare! There were so many cosy restaurants to try out and I don’t know about you but I always thought that fish & chips tasted better in North Devon, especially when they’re from Squires in Braunton! With cream teas aplenty and a sumptuous range of fresh produce on offer, everywhere we went - this place really felt like heaven! Our days were jam packed with endless fun and always ended with full tummies and happy smiles.

(Source: happy_healthy_jadey IG)

As the sun set over the rolling hills and danced off the glistening waves, we would make our way back to our cosy tent, enveloped in our own satisfying tiredness. The end of the week would always come too quickly and saying goodbye to this beautiful part of the country always evoked melancholy. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could be here all the time?, Dad used to mention wistfully. We visited many times as we grew up and every time we had an incredible experience, creating more memories and falling in love with North Devon even more. Until one day, the dream to become permanent fixtures became a reality and we packed up our house and moved down. From ‘grockle’ to local after all! 

(Source: Brenda Skinner)

It’s been 16 years now and North Devon still has a hold of mine and my family's heart. These wonderful memories of the past really did lead to a happy ending and we cherish were we live every single day. We smile when we look out over the sea, whilst sipping a glass of Prosecco at The Pier House and reminisce about those pleasant, sunny memories that lead us here. We are truly grateful that we made North Devon our new home!

If you have any stories, happy memories or experience of your time in North Devon, then we’d love to hear them! Head over to our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and let us know!

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