If you have visited North Devon recently, you will not have been unable to miss the significant developments taking place, with substantial housing growth and tourism growth in the local area.
One of the major locations for the growth in tourism in North Devon has been the traditional seaside village of Westward Ho! The village takes its name from the novel of the same name by Charles Kingsley, quite unique in the fact that it takes its name from a book, although the village had started to develop ten years before the book was published but was un-named.
The village is set to the southern end of a long sandy beach, it is backed by a pebble ridge that protects the unspoilt grasslands of Northam Burrows Country Park. The village developed into a major holiday destination in Victorian times, primarily due to the fantastic location, sandy beach, good transport links and the popularity of the novel. The village suffered as did many Victorian seaside resorts in the 1970's and 1980's, as a result of the growth in the popularity of the package holiday and tourism in the area declined. Holiday parks closed and there was little investment in tourism, accommodation and attractions in the village and the nearby area.
Today it has changed considerable, probably more so than any other location in Devon. The pro-active community backed by a strong council have transformed the village with significant new developments that continue apace. There are several major building projects that have been completed, offering high quality self catering accommodation, primarily in new luxury flats. The esplanade along the seafront has been completely renovated providing a safe and breathtaking walk whatever the weather, in fact, more breathtaking on a very blustery day. The developments have been designed to be modern, to stand out and to reflect the growing contemporary nature of the village.
The offerings for tourists have also changed significantly. Whilst the bucket and spade family attraction is still catered for along with amusement arcades and ice cream, the village has also evolved to target the higher end of the market. New, quality and modern restaurants have opened offering food from around the world. There are several new boutique style shops that have gown with the modern developments so that Westward Ho! now has a more cosmopolitan and modern feel in comparison with traditional neighbours.
The beach is, and always will be, the major draw, there are now several surf schools operating at the beach so that you can learn all types of water based activities for an adventure holiday. As the beach is gently sloping, it tends not to have the really dangerous rip currents of other beaches and is manned by RNLI Lifeguards during the warmer months making it a perfect beach for learning to surf.Alongside the modern developments, traditional self catering accommodation offering great value for money still remain.
There are several holiday cottages in the area and several holiday parks including Beachside Holiday Park which looks directly over the promenade to the sea with easy access to the sea pool. At the other end of the village is Surf Bay offering great value caravan holidays in Devon and provides direct access onto the Northam Burrows Country Park. This is a huge expanse of 253 hectares of grassland, dunes and a salt marsh, absolutely ideal if you love walking and exploring, perfect for dog owners.
It is all of these characteristics and others beside that have lead to the growth and development of Westward Ho! as a major tourist destination today. The traditional beach holiday combined with great shopping, eating and activities have combined to transform Westward Ho! The village attracts families with both younger and older children along with weekend tourists looking for a beach based bolt hole. There is also plenty of parking here and reasonable charges as well along with a Tescos Express and there are several supermarkets in nearby Bideford.
If you have never been to North Devon and want to discover a vibrant and growing village, try Westward Ho! It is family friendly, offers great value for money and combines a traditional beach holiday with a modern feel.