My first family holiday in North Devon was when I was three years old. It was 1967 and my Dad drove my Mum, me, my baby brother and my grandparents from Hove all the way down to Devon in a blue VW Dormobile. Apparently we did cool things before we even knew they were cool!
We stayed in a caravan at Woolacombe Sands and spent our days on the wide sandy beach. I remember my Grandad bringing me a crab he’d caught in a bucket and being absolutely terrified of it. We had donkey rides and ice creams, played in the sea and built sandcastles. Happy days.
Things to do in North Devon and why it makes the perfect family holiday destination…
In April I went back to North Devon for another family holiday. Mr Jones, my son, his girlfriend and their four-month baby Jack came too. This time I was the grandparent! What goes around eh… Our base for the week was Horizons in Ilfracombe, North Devon, a modern, seaside themed apartment overlooking the town’s pretty harbour.
Ilfracombe, North Devon
Ilfracombe is a quaint Devon seaside harbour town known locally for its ‘curious coastal charm’ and likened to St Ives in Cornwall. Colourful buildings, shops, galleries, restaurants and pubs line the ancient quayside and the alleyways of the old town. There’s a choice of sandy bays, beaches and craggy coastal walks. Views over the town from Lantern Hill are worth the climb and Capstone is the perfect place to catch a sunset.
You’ll love or loathe Verity the 20m high Damien Hirst statue that welcomes vessels into the harbour. If you like seafood you’ll enjoy it pretty much straight from the boat in S&P’s seafood shop by the lifeboat. The town is also home to the Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe Aquarium and the famous Tunnels Beaches with its sheltered bathing pool.
An hour’s walk will take you along some stunning coastline and over the hills to Hele Bay where you can enjoy a Devon cream tea at the Mill House. A bit further afield is Combe Martin, Woolacombe Bay, Croyde Beach for surfing and the pretty pedestrian village of Clovelly.
More about Ilfracombe here: Days out in Devon – things to see and do in Ilfracombe
Horizons Apartment, Ilfracombe
Our Ilfracombe holiday accommodation was a Marsdens Cottages apartment located in a Grade II listed Georgian terrace. Horizons couldn’t have been more aptly named – we loved the gorgeous views looking directly over Ilfracombe Harbour, the craggy North Devon coastline and views out to sea. On a clear day you can see right across the Bristol Channel to the Welsh coastline.
As soon as we arrived we were drawn to the window and those fabulous harbour views. Then we noticed the table all set up for tea and a hamper packed full of locally produced goodies; marmalades, honey, cookies, craft beers, bubbles, soft drinks, chocolates and even a Marsden’s teddy bear for Jack. The wonderful welcome helped us feel very much at home.
More UK travel inspiration: A weekend break in Rye, East Sussex
The Living Area
The living area is an open plan sitting room, dining area and kitchen and is light and airy and beautifully decorated. There’s a seaside theme throughout which we loved and gave a real sense of being by the ocean. The sitting room has a flat screen TV with Freeview, DVD player and WiFi. A big sofa, armchairs and a table and chairs made for a comfy time.
The modern, high quality kitchen had everything we needed including an oven, hob, microwave, dishwasher and fridge-freezer. There’s also a washing machine and tumble dryer in one of the hall cupboards.
Horizons is incredibly thoughtful when it comes to stocking the kitchen. There were store cupboard basics like tea, coffee and sugar, including a Nespresso machine. Sauces and olive oil were provided together with condiments. There were cleaning products, foil, cling film, dishwasher tablets and loo rolls. Everything you could possibly need was provided. All we needed to shop for was our food.
There’s a small Co-op a few minutes’ walk away in the town, a large Tesco just a ten minutes’ drive away and lots of places to eat out in the town from pub grub to fish and chip restaurants to the Michelin starred Olive Room Restaurant.
The master bedroom, at the front of the property, enjoys the same stunning outlook across the harbour as the sitting room. There’s a very comfortable king-sized bed and plenty of room for clothes with a double wardrobe, chest of drawers, dressing table and a chair by the window for enjoying the views. There’s a flat screen TV, soft, fluffy towels, a hairdryer and a sewing kit for wardrobe malfunctions. There was even room fragrance spray – the devil’s in the detail at Horizons.
The second bedroom at the back of the house has twin beds, a wardrobe and chest of drawers. We took our own travel cot as this isn’t provided. The family bathroom has a powerful shower in a double walk-in cubicle and a loo and hand-basin. Toiletries were also provided.
The apartment has a shared entrance, with stairs to the top floor. We didn’t have a problem with the four flights as the stairs are quite shallow. It was worth the climb for the views from the top of the building and it helped burn off a pasty or two. A dedicated parking space is located right outside the property so parking was convenient and never an issue.
A local paper had been left for us along with a handy file filled with tips on what to see and do in Ilfracombe with info on walks, activities and the best places to eat. Comprehensive information on everything we might need for the apartment and appliances was neatly filed, in fact everything we could possibly have needed to know had been thoughtfully provided.
Horizons in Ilfracombe was the perfect base for our first family holiday with Jack and we made some precious family memories. The beautifully decorated apartment is impeccable and fully equipped for a family self-catering holiday. It’s less than ten minutes’ walk from the lively harbour with its restaurants, pubs, bars and coffee shops. If you didn’t want to cook you wouldn’t need to. Ilfracombe, with its beautiful beaches and coastal walks kept us busy and entertained and we could easily have stayed longer. We loved our stay at Horizons.
About Marsdens Devon Cottages
Marsdens Devon Cottages is an independent family business which started in 1973. It has over 350 holiday properties to rent in Devon from romantic cottages for two, celebration properties, dog-friendly cottages and cottages for large groups. A week’s stay (Friday–Friday) for four people at Horizons starts from £315. Lower prices for 2 people staying. Short breaks are available (minimum 3 nights) from September to June.
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Many thanks to Marsdens Devon Cottages who kindly hosted us. All views and opinions are, as always, entirely my own.