30th May 2018

Cycling, walking, stunning views and much more on a summer holiday in Barnstaple

Here at The Park Hotel we believe that whilst we continue to provide four-star accommodation and service, it’s North Devon itself that makes a holiday.

We consider ourselves to be very lucky to be based where we are in Barnstaple. The town is considered to be the capital of North Devon, and it’s certainly the biggest town in the region.

We’re only a five-minute walk from the very centre of Barnstaple, but with Rock Park and the River Taw opposite us, the area is quiet and photo-worthy.

You’ll quickly forget you’re in the middle of town!  

So to provide you with the ultimate holiday inspiration, read on for your guide to summer holidays in Barnstaple...

A beautiful park side location - Rock Park

Look out the front windows of The Park Hotel and you’ll see Rock Park. Many of our bedrooms and dining facilities have windows pointed towards the trees and green grass.

Walk out the front door to enjoy a large space of green grass, picnic spots and scenic walks.

Where the River Taw (to the right of our hotel) meets the greenery, a war memorial stands proudly and shows where Rock Park starts.

Stick to the main path with the river to your right to enjoy a stroll through the trees.

In the middle of the park is a large children's play area, with facilities and an ice cream stand too. Further along is a big sports area.

From picnics to kicking a ball around, our guests can easily unwind at Rock Park.

Keep following the main paths to the back of the park. Once you reach the end pop up the steps to reach an old railway line which crosses over the River Taw for photo-worthy views.

The Tarka Trail

You’ll find Rock Park right in front of the hotel, but turn right and keep the edge of the river to your left to make the most of the Tarka Trail.

The Tarka Trail is a famous series of foot and cycle paths inspired by the much-loved Tarka the Otter stories. The complete trail travels from Braunton in North Devon, through the centre of Barnstaple and on to other key destinations in the area before reaching Mid-Devon.

It follows the River Taw on both banks, and taking in both routes is a must. There are many miles to cover and those who love walking will revel in the flat paths, the gorgeous views, the wildlife and key focal points along the way.

As the trail is an old railway track, little bits of North Devon’s train history remain, so keep an eye out for information boards and old signals.

From the square in Barnstaple, turn towards Braunton to enjoy the 6 miles route or head to Bideford for a 9-mile walk.

Going to Braunton will closely follow the River Taw and you’ll be beside the water for most of the way. After the airfield at RM Chivenor, the path heads inland but the views are still phenomenal and you’ll be surrounded by open fields and ponds filled with wildlife.

Alternately, cross the River Taw and follow the other bank towards Bideford. Along this route enjoy the beauty of the beach at Instow and the lovely views at Fremington Quay for photo opportunities.

Of course, you don’t have to cover the whole route, simply stroll as far as you please before heading back.

Cycling from The Park Hotel

To cover more of the Tarka Trail at a faster pace, why not spend the day on a bike and see more of the sights?

There are a number of places to hire high-quality bikes if you’re unable to bring your own.

Speak to the reception team who will be able to discuss how best to do this, along with providing guidance on how to make the most of the trail depending on your personal preferences.

Yet it’s not just the trail that’s worth cycling on. The South West Coast Path hugs the coastline of North Devon, offering challenging but very rewarding cycle and walking routes. From the twisty roads through Exmoor to the gentle pedals by a famous beach, make sure you take your bikes on an expedition between nights at The Park.

Shopping in Barnstaple

If something more relaxing is needed, how about a casual shop around Barnstaple for presents, gifts for others and holiday memorabilia?

Barnstaple is a wonderful mixture of modern and historical, with national brands sitting beside local businesses. Go from trying on clothes in the newly updated Green Lanes Shopping Centre to pulling out odd bits and bobs from the Pannier Market - which is largely unchanged in over 150 years.

Alternatively, if you don’t mind a short drive, Affinity Outlets shopping centre is just outside Bideford, a 20-30 minute drive away. The outlet has a wide range of brands and popular names, each with outlet discounts.

Discover a wide world of Gardens

Those who enjoy spending time outside will love North Devon. For many, this love of nature includes walking through gardens, taking in plants and seeing grand buildings with stunning grounds. Luckily there are a wide range of gardens and private grounds in the area to explore.

Highlights include; Marwood Hill Garden, Tapeley Park, Castle Hill Gardens, Arlington Court, Broomhill Sculpture Gardens and Hartland Abbey to name a few.

But our pick has to be RHS Gardens Rosemoor!

At Rosemoor, you can enjoy 65-acres of beautifully planted flower beds, set within a pretty wooded valley. Around every corner there's a lovely surprise as the gardens are home to plants from around the world. Events take place through the year, there's lots of shopping to be done and children's activities keep little green-fingers amused.

As an added bonus, because you’re a guest at The Park Hotel, you’ll receive £8 entry instead of £12.65.

We look more at what Rosemoor offers in this news piece.

North Devon Attractions

Yet no summer holiday in Barnstaple would be complete without also spending time at a range of other exciting attractions in and around the town:

Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park

Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park

See African lions, wolves, sea lions and meerkats, as well as spectacular dinosaur models.

Click here to find out more



World-famous for its cobbled streets, donkeys, sledges and historic harbour. Enjoy stunning views of this traffic-free fishing village built into a cleft in a 400' high cliff, with beautiful whitewashed cottages festooned with flowers.

Click here to find out more

Exmoor Zoo

Exmoor Zoo

15% off entry when you stay with us

An enjoyable day trip for all ages, the zoos treats visitors to a close-up view within excellent animal exhibits. The closest local zoos are Exmoor Zoo, which is home to the only pair of black leopards (or Exmoor beasts if you believe the legends) on exhibit in the UK, and Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, a prehistoric park that features a variety of exotic animals alongside plenty of dinosaur animatronics.

Click here to find out more

Guest Discounts

It’s not just RHS Gardens Rosemoor that we have arranged reduced entry prices for our guests. Enjoy a wonderful summer holiday at The Park and you’ll receive discounts at a wide range of attractions.

From exciting family days out to zoos and relaxing times away from life, which of these guest discounts will you be making the most of during a summer holiday in Barnstaple?

The Wonderful Beaches

These pictures do all the talking for us when it comes to beaches in North Devon, all of which are a short drive or bus journey from the hotel.

Not much more to add really when they look like this...

Make the most of dining in Barnstaple

With The Barnstaple Collection, you’ll get to enjoy discounted food and drink across all the Brend Hotels in Barnstaple. Alongside us, there’s The Imperial Hotel, The Barnstaple Hotel and The Royal & Fortescue which boosts the luxurious 62 The Bank and Bar 62.

As a guest at our hotel, you can dine at these hotels with some great money offer offers, plus you can enjoy the two swimming pools (one indoor, one outside) at The Barnstaple Hotel, along with their spa facilities.

Luxurious food and drink at The Park Hotel

Or, after a full day out in North Devon, feel free to lounge around the hotel and make use of our relaxed and inviting spaces.

Enjoy the finest of dining in our Seasons Brasserie or put your feet up with drinks and food in the Seasons Bar.

We hope this has provided some ideas for a summer holiday in Barnstaple, whether you’re already booked in or are looking for North Devon holiday inspiration.