Bideford Guide


Charles Kingsley described Bideford as 'The Little White Town', come and stroll along the narrow streets or quayside and see if you agree!! Bideford is also reputed to be one of the best locations in the country for New Year Celebrations.

Back in the 16th Century, Bideford was the third largest port in the country. The large houses that you see opposite the Quay along Bridgeland Street were built by the merchants who got very rich on the proceeds of trade.  More recently, approximately 150 years ago Charles Kingsley stayed in a Hotel in Bideford - The Royal Hotel - and it was from here that he wrote much of his novel Westward Ho!. To appreciate Charles Kingsley's description of Bideford - " The Little White Town" - approach the town via East the Water and cross the ancient Long Bridge which spans the River Torridge. There is a statue of Kingsley on the quayside.

To this day the port is still busy, at high tide you will often see local fishing boats, all types of pleasure craft, large container vessels and the Lundy supply ship HMS Oldenburg. The Oldenburg also serves as a passenger ferry with regular pleasure trips to Lundy Island - to find out more about sailings visit the Lundy Office on the Quay, or call the number below.

Being at the heart of Tarka country, made famous in 1927 by Henry Williamson and his classic novel Tarka the Otter, there are some splendid cycle paths, and plenty of places to hire a bicycle from if you have'nt brought your own with you.

The blue flag beach and spectacular coastline of Westward Ho! is just two miles away and from here you can wind surf, surf, horse ride, or just relax on the beach. A round of golf is possible too on England's oldest links course - The Royal & North Devon.

Shopping in Bideford has never been better, with Atlantic Village - over 35 stores all under a covered mall and many offering up to 50% off rrp - this is outlet shopping at its best. Next door to Atlantic Village is the new Asda store - perfect for picking up groceries for your holiday cottage. In the High Street at Bideford you will find a wide range of shops, from National stores to local shops offering local fudge, arts & crafts, fresh local produce and general goods to fashion and sportswear.

Market days - the Pannier market is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Bideford's pannier market dates back to 1884  which was when it was opened. It was originally built to house a fish market, butchers stalls and a corn Exchange. The origin behind the pannier market was that farmer's wives carried their wares to market using wicker baskets or panniers under their arms. Panniers can still be seen in use today. The market despite undergoing several alterations and refurbisments over the years still retains its delightful warm and friendly atmosphere.

Butchers Row is open Monday - Saturday and gained its name from the various local family butchers that plied their trade the length and breadth of the market selling all kinds of offal, meats and poultry, and for many years was off limits to traders other than butchers. However, post World War II the popularity of butchers diminshed and the empty shops were rented out to other businesses.  As you stroll along Butcher's Row today you will find a variety of  traditional shops selling anything from children's clothing, produce, gifts, crafts, hobbies, toys, fish, books, meat, lighting, jewellery and much more.

There are plenty of places to eat in Bideford, pubs, restaurants, cafe's, fish and chips to name but a few.

Tourist Information Centre
Victoria Park
The Quay
EX39 2QQ

Tel: 01237 477676

Bideford - Abbotsham Road - Tel: 01237 420200
Barnstaple - North Devon District Hospital - Tel: 01271 322577

Traveline - 0871 200 2233

MS Oldenburg (Lundy Island) - Tel: 01237 470074

Bideford Bicycle Hire - Tel: 01237 424123
Bikarooni - Tel: 0845 4561500

Devon & Cornwall Constabulary - Tel: 0845 2777444

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015