Autumn, Winter and all year activities in North Devon
27 October 2015
Even in our mild corner of North Devon, things can get wet, wild and windy as the days shorten. But for many visitors, the answer isn’t to huddle by a fireplace or find a quiet country pub. In fact, the true outdoor lovers relish this time of year as a superb time to find quiet beaches, watery places and stunning countryside minus the summer crowds.
Don’t say it too loud, but we are also able to offer some of our lowest rates of the year in the colder months. Should you still be tempted to stay indoors however, here are some fantastic year round activities and wonderful winter places to visit, including some cracking walks, action in the surf and top quality fly fishing:
Wonderful Winter Walks on Exmoor
North Devon and Somerset’s National Park is never more beautiful than when decorated by autumn leaves or a crisp frost. Wrap up warm and a classic walk can be beautiful as well as bracing. Nor do the park’s animal inhabitants all beat a hasty retreat either. Add some stunning scenery and you’d be a fool not to take a camera.
The Exmoor Pony is one winter specialist whose thick coat and fat reserves can withstand a serious chill. But of course, the undisputed king of Exmoor is the red deer. In the autumn these creatures grow a stout winter coat and really pack on the weight to combat the cold. The largest males can weigh close to a hefty 30 stone in prime condition, giving some idea of their thick fur and fat reserves.
Do be prepared and pick your route carefully when walking on Exmoor at this time of year. Mud or icy patches are common, most years see some snowfall on the higher ground, while visibility can also be challenging on dark or foggy days. For a variety of recommended Exmoor walks, the official Exmoor National Park site has maps, advice and more: CLICK HERE.
Winter Waves (and empty surf beaches!)
If the idea of trying winter surfing in Woolacombe Bay or anywhere else in Devon seemed like madness, perhaps it’s time to look again at a time of year that can produce fantastic waves! Couple this with far less human traffic, even on the most popular surf beaches in North Devon, and the experience can be rewarding in more ways than one.
Ok, so for beginners of youngsters not used to the cold it could be a baptism of fire (or perhaps ice?!!). But for those hardy souls who live to surf, a little preparation can extend the surfing year till Christmas and beyond! A couple of very quick tips here however: do invest in a quality winter wetsuit and do listen to your body. Winter surfing can always be done in shorter bursts, with a coffee and large, dry towel waiting in the breaks.
Naturally, the same quiet beaches and beautiful winter scenery are also a huge draw for keen windsurfers, canoeists and other watersports fans.
Superb Winter Fly and Coarse Fishing in North Devon
If you thought coarse or fly fishing were a waste of time in the winter, the reality is very different in Devon! Local sea fishing can be tough, although marks such as Ilfracombe do produce whiting and a few cod when the going gets cold. Much more rewarding for the visiting angler is to take a look at one of the fly fisheries near Woolacombe.
Fly fishing can still be excellent in the winter, with rainbow trout the obvious target from stillwaters open all year. Several smaller fly fishing lakes in North Devon are spring-fed too, making them fishable even when others ice over.
Two fisheries within a half hour drive of Woolacombe stand out in particular: Bratton Water Fishery is a pretty pool with cracking brown trout stocked that can be legally fished for all year. Meanwhile, Blakewell Fly Fishery on the edge of Barnstaple is better known for rainbow trout and offers easy fishing even when the mercury gets below zero. Guided fly fishing in the area is also easily available, should you want to learn to fly fish in North Devon.
Last but not least, in spite of river trout being out of bounds, Exmoor grayling can still be targeted on some parts of the Fish the Exe scheme. This is sport for more experienced anglers and tends to require waders.
Autumn and Winter breaks in North Devon
Of course, the only thing better than a day of recreation out in the cold is a warm welcome and a hearty meal on your return! You could not wish for a more cosy base than Woolacombe Bay Hotel, where we have great rooms, delicious food and excellent service. Or alternately, our self-catering holiday lets in North Devon are also an ideal home from home at any time of year.
If you're quick we also still have some available rooms for festive breaks in 2015, over Christmas and New Year's Eve. Just think, you could hit the beach for a surf on Christmas Day- or spend Boxing Day watching red deer on Exmoor!