After recently spending a long weekend in Combe Martin, in north Devon with John Fowler Holidays Parks, the MTM family discovered a new meaning to wet weather! When the immediate forecast predicts nothing but gale force winds and rain, the overriding reaction is to do nothing but hole yourself up in cosy surroundings – stick a few films on, grab some food and wait for it to pass. And, we so could have done this in our warm and comfortable Gold Mews Apartment. But when you have an excitable six-year-old and an easily bored baby – no chance. Quite right, too. Our long journey would have been wasted had we not braced ourselves and gone out and faced the elements.
Things to do in North Devon
Fortunately, there are plenty of attractions and things to do in North Devon even in the rain. So, if like us, you’re willing to stick your wellies on and still enjoy ice cream, then I’ll guarantee you’ll have a blast and maybe, just maybe, the sun will eventually turn up at some point, too!
Explore the seaside
I still think being by the sea, having your hair swept back by the wind and walking along the shoreline is still one of the best things to do no matter what the weather. The key is to have the right clothes on and waterproofs!
There is an abundance of beaches in north Devon from Combe Martin, the small and quaint village we were staying in, to the larger seaside towns of Ilfracombe and Woolacombe.
Things to in Ilfracombe
In Ilfracombe, we walked along the harbour front, browsed a few shops, had a fish and chip lunch and marvelled at Verity – Damian Hirst’s 66ft Bronze sculpture which is a modern-day allegory for truth and justice. Monkey was quite astounded by it and kept whispering to me: ‘She’s got a baby in her tummy, mummy!’
The waves were lashing against the sea wall so hard we were all hit by some serious spray – but it didn’t really matter as we were wet anyway!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go to the Tunnels Beach which is a firm childhood favourite of my husband’s – next time, though. There’s always a next time…
In Combe Martin, we made the walk from our accommodation to the small, but perfectly formed beach set in a cove. It was a bracing walk, but we were the only souls on it. That’s the good thing about bad weather – you get a beach to yourselves.
Meanwhile, Woolacombe Beach – which has been voted the UK’s best beach on several occasions – is well worth a visit. Not only is it located in an area of outstanding natural beauty but it’s also a surfing hotspot. We loved watching the surfers braving the waves.
See marine life at Ilfracombe Aquarium
This fantastic all-weather attraction situated in the old lifeboat harbour house right is not only a fun day out for the whole family but an educational resource, as well, displaying exhibits which chart aquatic life on a journey from an Exmoor stream to the Atlantic Ocean.
Kids are most welcome, with viewing stools for toddlers and plenty of quizzes and challenges for older children.
Ilfracombe Aquarium The Old Lifeboat House, Ilfracombe Harbour, Ilfracombe, Devon, EX34 9EQ
Go wild at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park
For over 31 years Combe Martin’s Wildlife and Dinosaur Park has been delighting families with its exciting mix of part theme park, part soft play and part safari park. Not only are there daily shows but experiences such as being able to feed the lions, or being a zookeeper for a day.
Most of the 28 acres are set outside but even in the rain, we enjoyed watching the sea lion show, as well as visiting all the different animals – including monkeys and meerkats. It was a Halloween special, so a pumpkin treasure hunt meant we really did get to explore the grounds.
Monkey loved meeting the life-sized moving dinosaurs, and getting up close to all the creepy crawlies in the bug house, while Peanut had a splash in the huge ball pit in the indoor play area.
Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, Higher Leigh, Combe Martin, EX34 0NG; Tickets: Adults £13.00; Kids; £11.00
Ride the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway
Who doesn’t enjoy a funicular ride? The Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway is the highest and steepest water powered railway in the world – and it’s open all year round – whatever the weather! The historic Victorian railway opened in 1890 and has connected the twin towns of Lynton and Lynmouth ever since. The 862 feet of track rises 500 feet providing stunning views across Lynmouth Bay. There’s even a cafe perched at the top of the cliff so you can enjoy refreshments and that amazing view.
Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway, Lynton Top Station: Lee Road, Lynton, EX35 6HW; Lynmouth Bottom Station: The Esplanade, Lynmouth, EX35 6EQ; Tickets from £3.80 return
*John Fowler Holiday Parks invited me to stay at Combe Martin and compensated me for my time. We also had complimentary passes to Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park. As always my views are my own.