Introduction to Westward Ho!
The first thing to clarify when speaking about Westward Ho! is – no, that's not a typo. The town was named after Charles Kingsley's 19th century novel 'Westward Ho!', which plays in nearby Bideford. As the book sold so well, Victorian marketeers used this as an opportunity to develop tourism in the area. First, only a hotel and some adjoining villas were named Westward Ho!, and as a village started to develop around those, the name was kept for the entire area.
The Victorians made seaside holidays en vogue, and they have been ever since. Today, the village with its clear waters and long sandy beach with a pebbled ridge is still an excellent place to go for surfing and of course, offers all the other amusement facilities of a seaside town, such as arcades, a go kart track as well as a large number of fish and chip shops.
Yet, it seems like the Victorians were not the first ones to discover the area – recently, a submerged forest dating back to the Mesolithic period has been excavated along the shoreline of Westward Ho!, sparking new interest in the prehistoric history of Devon.
Culture & attractions in Westward Ho!
The beaches at and around Westward Ho! Have received several Blue Flags for their clear water and are perfect for swimming in the summer.
Apart from swimming, walking and lying on the beach, the area is great for all kinds of water sports. You think you'll never made a good surfer? Give it a go with one of the many stellar surfing schools at Westward Ho! which teach beginners and advanced surfers alike.
What's more romantic than a walk along the beach? Riding horses along the beach! Whether you were born on a saddle or have never mounted a horse before, this is an excellent opportunity to discover the shores of Devon on horseback!
Must-do highlights in Westward Ho!
North Burrows Country Park is located at the mouth of the estuary where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet. A varied stretch of dunes, salt marsh and grassland, the unspoilt park is a paradise for a wide variety of animal and plant species. Hire a bike to ” explore the Tarka Trail or many of the other trails in the area.
The majestic South West Coastal Path also leads past Westward Ho! – see for yourself how the Atlantic Oceans meets the jagged cliffs and rocks that have been the demise of many a ship over the centuries. Even on a calm day, it's a sight to behold! At the other side, the coastal path leads into the lush Devon countryside. Here, it gets a little steep at times, but it's worth the effort, as there is always something to see and the vegetation is stunning all year round.
After all that hiking, take a ferry from Instow to Appledore to watch the world go by with a classic cream tea at the waterfront of the Commodore Hotel.
Nearby Abbotsham offers the biggest attraction for younger kids in the area: The Big Sheep farm is worth visiting in any weather. Children can bottle-feed young lamps, watch ducks and see sheepdogs in action. Those with a love of gambling will enjoy bidding on the surprisingly quick sheep in the Big Sheep Race.
Eating & drinking in Westward Ho!
Westward Ho!, as a seaside villages, offers an abundance of not only fish and chip shops, but also some cozy pubs and brilliant seafood restaurants.
The Village Inn is just one of the friendly local pubs that serves a variety of local beers as well as savoury pub fare.
Maybe the most popular restaurant in Westward Ho! is Potwallopers, and not only because the name matches the town name so beautifully – the restaurant offers a varied seasonal menu and great views of the beach.
Accommodation in Westward Ho!
There's a wide variety of apartments smack-bang on the beach of Westward Ho! to choose from, no matter how many people you are travelling with.
The Sea Haven Apartment for example is a 4 star rated single level apartment overlooking Golden Bay and the North Devon coast. It features two luxurious bedrooms that sleep up to 6 people.
Also on the Blue Flag Golden Bay beach is the Horizon View development. 16 Horizon View for example is a cozy two bedroom apartment with it's own balcony overlooking the sea.
The 'Wow' apartment keeps the promise its name makes – the two bedroom apartment is surrounded by the sea with a full-length balcony and two bathrooms, perfect to share with two coupler or for a family.
So that's our round up of things to do on a weekend in Westward Ho!. Have you ever been there? What would you recommend doing if someone went there for the weekend? Please share you experience with us…