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About the Barnstaple Town area of North Devon

This historic market town has stood at the first crossing of the Taw estuary for over a thousand years. The original street pattern of the medieval town can be found between two tidal rivers, the Taw and the Yeo. The modern town now sprawls well beyond the old Norman walls. It is easy, when visiting the busy shopping centre in what was old Barum, to understand the town's relationship with its rivers, fords and bridges, and the old quays. In the 16th and 17th Centuries, Barnstaple was a pioneering port, a port of merchant venturers. Hundreds of wooden trading ships were built here at slipways on either side of the Taw: ships that traded with Portugal, Spain, France, Holland, Ireland and the Americas.

Nowadays Barnstaple, as the largest town in North Devon and Exmoor, is a popular shopping destination for both locals and holidaymakers. Most of the town centre is pedestrianised between 10am and 4pm. The famous Pannier Market and pretty Butchers' Row sell locally produced food, including meat, fish and game. There are shopping malls and outdoor cafes, street entertainers and guided walks, parks and gardens - and flowers everywhere. The riverside walk takes you past museums and fountains, a mosaic and a motte and bailey castle. Boutport Street, which encircles the eastern side of the old fortified town offers entertainments at a theatre, a multi-screen cinema, and a miriad of taverns and restaurants.

400 year old oil painting of the view of barnstaple from sticklepath hill
Mon†: (small) general market
Tues: food and plants market
Wed: antiques market
Thur: arts and crafts market
Fri: food and produce market
Sat: general market

†Mondays closed Jan to Mar.




(Beardastapol: late 10th century)

Population 34,000 overall. Principal town of North Devon.

Town Centre: 1,000 yards of pedestrianised shopping streets including 200 yards of covered shopping malls, 3 multi-level department stores including Marks & Spencer's and Banbury's, large covered Pannier Market*, famous Butchers' Row (butchers, fishmonger, gamemonger, greengrocer, delicatessen, cheesemonger, bakers), Iceland, Co-op and Tesco Express supermarkets, Marks & Spencer's Foodhall, TK Maxx, large Primark, Wilkinson's, internet cafe, theatre, multi-screen cinema, nightclubs, many pubs (Wetherspoons x 2), restaurants and cafes, 3 parks including castle motte and bailey, putting, tennis, skateboard park, adventure playgrounds, riverside gardens (with statues, fountain, clock tower, cafes, mosaic and 2 museums**), library with county records office, sports and leisure centre*, tennis centre*, start of Tarka Trail and end of Macmillan Way, on NCN 3 and 27 cycle routes, on South West Way coast path, railway station, coach and bus station (37 bus routes start here).

Edge of Town: Many stores including Tesco's x 2, Sainsbury's, Lidl x 2, Co-op x 2, B&Q, Homebase, Wickes, Screwfix, Curry's, Carpetright, PC World, Argos Extra, MacDonald's x 2, Pizza Hut, Laura Ashley, Factory Fabric Warehouse, St John's Garden Centre and Jungleland*, Trelawney Garden Centre, Ten-pin bowling* and ice-skating, soft-play adventure*, GoKarting*, Golf Course and Driving Range. Hospital, College, 5 business parks.


late c20th photo of the museum and the long bridge
Admission Free

Museum of North Devon

The Square, Barnstaple, EX32 8LN. Tel: 01271 346747.
Website: Museum of North Devon

The Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon is a major regional museum, housed in fine Victorian brick building, beside Barnstaple's famous C13th Long Bridge. Ten galleries displaying and interpreting the natural, social and military history of northern Devon. Burma Campaign exhibition - the 'forgotten army'. Small Art Gallery. Ravillious photographic exhibition of rural life. Tourist Information Centre in entrance hall.

Opening Times: Mon-Sat, 1000-1600 Nov-Mar, 1000-1700 Apr-Oct. Closed Sun and Christmas/New Year.
Admission Charges: Free.
Dogs admitted: No.

a historic walk party being addressed by a guide wearing a tricorn hat and scholar's gown

Guided Walks of Historic Barnstaple


Discover the fascinating history of the country's oldest royal-chartered borough, find the norman fortifications, imagine the bustle of the 17th Century port, visit the farmers' market and hear of Civil War skirmishes and intrigue, all in the company of Tom Evans, our colourful local historian.
Individuals, couples or small family groups are welcome to join any of the pre-booked guided walks listed on the above single page website - except those marked with a star.

Opening Times: Tours available, day-time or evening, by appointment only.
Charges: from £15 per group.
Dogs admitted: Yes.

tuesday in barnstaple's pannier market - mostly local foods, plants and flowers
Admission Free

The Pannier Market

High Street, Barnstaple, EX31 1BX.
Website: The Pannier Market

Over 100 yards long, this is one of the largest and busiest covered markets in the South-West. Built mostly of wood, but with brick walls, in 1855, this beautiful, airy building houses a different type of market each day of the week (except Sunday).

Opening Times: Monday(Apr-Dec): small general market 9.00am to 3.00pm; Tuesday: food, plants and flowers 9.00am to 4.00pm; Wednesday: antiques and collectibles 9.00am to 3.00pm; Thursday: "arts and crafts" (mostly general stalls) 9.00am to 3.00pm; Friday: large, home-produce 8.00am to 3.30pm; Saturday: large, general 9.00am to 4.00pm.
Admission Charges: Free.
Dogs admitted: No.

awaiting photograph
Admission Free

North Devon Leisure Centre

Seven Brethren Bank, Barnstaple, EX31 2AP. Tel: 01271 373361.
Website: North Devon Leisure Centre

Swimming pool, indoor bowls, squash. Matted area for martial arts. Solariums, sports hall, table tennis, 5-a-side football. Aerobics/keepfit, new health suite.

Opening Times: All year, every day, up to 15 hours per day.
Admission Charges: Free - separate charges for sports.
Dogs admitted: No.

one of twelve tennis courts at the tarka tennis centre in barnstaple
Admission Free

Tarka Tennis Centre

Seven Brethren Bank, Barnstaple, EX31 2AS. Tel: 01271 377701.

The Tarka Tennis Centre (Barnstaple's new £5 million tennis complex) has international standard facilities that has certainly put North Devon on the tennis map. Professional coaching available.
Courts: 6 x Indoor Acrylic, 4 x Floodlit Artificial Grass, 2 x Floodlit Clay.
Facilities: Bar, Catering facilities, Changing rooms, Meeting room, Pay and Play, Showers, Television screen/set, Video recorder, WCs, Wheelchair access.

Opening Times: All year, Mon-Fri 0830-2200, Sat-Sun 0830-2000.
Admission Charges: Various.
Dogs admitted: No.

two cyclists on the tarka trail at instow

Tarka Trail Cycle Hire

The Railway Station, Barnstaple, EX31 2AU. Tel: 01271 324202.

Over 130 bicycles: tourers, mountain bikes, tandems, trailer bikes, children's bikes, etc, available for daily hire - whether on the adjacent Tarka Trail Cycle Path (32 mile long off-road cycle/foot path), or on the roads and bridle paths of North Devon. Free car park.

Opening Times: Easter - early November
Hire Charges: £8.00-£10.50 per adult.
Dogs admitted: dogs under control are allowed on the cycle path.

three enthusiastic bowlers, wearing stars 'n' stripes kit, at let's go superbowl at barnstaple

Lets Go Superbowl & Ice Skating

Braunton Road, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 1LE. Tel: 01271 321 123.

Ten-pin bowling with fully automated scoring. Ice Skating. Game Zone (jet-ski simulator, Sega races, Air Hockey, shooting screens, gaming machines and pool tables). Children's Megazone (laser adventure in the Alien Wasteland). Bar and Diner (hot food all day). Let's Go Superbowl.

Opening Times: All year, Mon-Sat, 1100-2300; Sun, 1100-2230
Admission Charges: 1st/2nd Game: Adult: £4.95/£3.95 Child (under 16): £4.50/£3.50.
Dogs admitted: No.

a couple o' racing go-karts at the north devon karting centre

North Devon Karting Centre

Braunton Road, Barnstaple, EX31 1HN. Tel: 01271 328460.

Two circuits: 'Family Track' which is 200 metres and 'Pro Track' which is 400 metres.

Opening Times: Apr-Oct, Sun 1100-1700; Apr, May, Jun, Sep, Mon-Sat, 1030-1700;1-20 Jul, Mon-Sat, 1000-1800; 21 Jul-31 Aug, Mon-Sat, 1000-1830; Oct, Mon-Sat, 1100-1600; Winter weekends + school holidays 1100-1600
Admission Charges: Arrive and drive: 6 minute drive session: £4.00, £7.00 or £10.00 depending on type of kart..
Dogs admitted: No.

young children exploring the soft play centre at funderzone


Unit 4, Barum Gate, Whiddon Drive, Barnstaple, EX32 8RY. Tel: 01271 328328.

North Devon's largest indoor soft-play centre. A play heaven for the under 12's on four levels. Rope bridges, tunnels, ball pools, cannons, log ramps, spider webs, punch bags and five slides. Dedicated area for under 3's with slide, ball pool, soft shapes, etc. Funder Forest Cafe. Long sleeves and trousers are recommended, socks are required (socks can be purchased). One mile east of town centre, close to Tesco's, but on the other side of the A39.
Also LASER ZONE after 6.30pm - the entire play area becomes the domain of a laser game: advance booking required (minimum of 8 children).

Shop Opening Times: All year, every day: 1000-1830 (closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day).
Admission Charges: Adult: £1 Child: under 1yr FREE, 1-4yrs £4.00, 5-12yrs £4.50
Dogs admitted: No.

three people leaning over a bridge in jungleland watching the huge fish and little ducks
Admission Free


St John's Garden Centre, St John's Lane, Barnstaple, EX32 9DD. Tel: 01271 343884.

Chipmunks, terrapins, birds and fish in exotic setting of giant cacti, tropical jungle plants and waterfalls. All under cover.

Opening Times: All year, daily, Mon-Sat, 0900-1730, Sun, 1030-1630. Closed 15 Apr, 25,26 Dec.
Admission Charges: Free
Dogs admitted: No.