8 interesting facts about North Devon and the surrounding area!

North Devon is most well-known for the miles of glorious sandy beaches, elegant countryside views and laid back fishing villages. The easy going pace makes for the ideal holiday atmosphere. 


It just goes to show that North Devon is understandably one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations. But some things are a little less obvious. Take a look at these 8 interesting facts about North Devon and the surrounding area…



1. St Nicholas’ Chapel 


At the peak of Lantern Hill in Ilfracombe is St Nicholas’ Chapel, allegedly the UK’s oldest working lighthouse, built in 1361! The building and its beacon have stood for over 650 years!
Royal Navy vessel to visit Ilfracombe
Ilfracombe harbour with St Nicholas' Chapel on Lantern Hill (photo https://new.devon.gov.uk/northdevonnews/)

2. Tidal Range


The Bristol Channel separates South Wales from North Devon. It is placed second on the planet for the title of highest and lowest tides (second only to the Bay of Fundy in Canada), meaning that North Devon’s tidal range is among the largest! Records show that the biggest range is an enormous 45ft!
Croyde beach at low tide (photo www.rhdesign.co.uk)

3. Westward Ho!


Westward Ho! is the only place in the country (and one of only two in the world) that uses an exclamation mark in its name. It is also the only town in the UK named after a novel. Charles Kingsley, best known now for The Water Babies, published the novel Westward Ho! in 1855.
Westward Ho! (photo www.northdevon.com/Locations/Westward-Ho!)

4. Braunton Burrows 


Braunton Burrows is the largest sand dune system in Britain and has an amazing range of plants (over 400 species recorded!) and wildlife. Its unique biodiversity recognises it as both a National Nature Reserve and as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, giving it a world-class status!
Braunton Burrows (photo www.explorethecoast.org/waypoint/1118)

5. Exmoor


Exmoor National Park is a unique landscape of moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland. As well as some breath-taking scenery, Exmoor has the largest concentration of Red Deer in England and the highest coastal cliffs in England. Great Hangman Cliff near Combe Martin Bay is 800ft/244m high!
Great Hangman (photo www.nevillestanikkphotography.co.uk)

6. The Devon ‘Witches’ 


The Devon 'Witches' were the last witches to be hung as punishment in Great Britain. Three women from Bideford had allegedly used witchcraft and were executed in Exeter in 1682!
A plaque to the Witches of Bideford

7. Christian the Lion


Christian the lion, famous from the story ‘A Lion Called Christian’, was born in Ilfracombe Zoo on 12th August 1969 and was shortly afterwards purchased by Australian John Rendall and Ace Bourke from the Harrods store of London. Eventually, Christian was reintroduced to the wild in Africa. A year later his previous owners decided to go looking for him to see whether Christian would remember them. He did, along with two lionesses who accepted them both as well.
Christian the lion, born in Ilfracombe (photo www.alioncalledchristian.com.au)

8. Combe Martin 


The Guinness world record for the world's longest street party is held by the North Devon town of Combe Martin. This was celebrating the Queen's Jubilee in 2002 and the party stretched almost 2 miles through Combe Martin’s famously long High Street. The party had between 5000 and 8000 visitors, 700 tables with bands and bouncy castles.
The beginning of Combe Martin High Street (photo www.devonguide.com/combe-martin)

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