"Barnstaple - North Devon's Metropolis" Barnstaple by johngayton

Barnstaple Travel Guide: 50 reviews and 122 photos

Perhaps Not The Most Photogenic Of Towns...

...but definitely one of the most useful.

Barnstaple is unopposed as North Devon's County Town with its understated character, which to the casual visitor may not be immediately obvious and perhaps to those that live there is taken for granted, but character it definitely does have.

Off and on over the course of the past 16 or 17 years I have found myself working up in North Devon, or sometimes just visiting, and it is always Barnstaple which I pass through, getting the train from Exeter and then whatever other mode of transport from there - the bus services being pretty good for such a rural area. Whenever I have been working up here it is Barnstaple that I need to visit to do my proper shopping, the village shops where I have worked not quite able to fulfill every requirement, to visit the bank if anything needs to be sorted out in person, or just for a day out.

This is when the town comes into its own, it has everything - there are branches of major chain stores (albeit smaller scale versions), outlets of National pub and restaurant chains (Weatherspoons and Whimpy spring to mind), all the major banks are represented and the High Street has outlets of several other more specialist retail groups, though NO Starbucks (Well, Barnstaple doesn't claim city status!). Yet whilst a significant majority of the Nationals have their representatives here, what you will find is that almost every other retail outlet is in fact an independent or part of a smaller (more local) group. Then add into that the Pannier Market and its adjacent Butcher's Row, and the punctuation of small pubs, cafes and restaurants, The Theatre Royal and all the other bits and bobs which make for an interesting town and the place becomes quite unique.

Today's Shopping List:

Books - enough reading to see me over the next month or so.
Bank - change PIN on new card, get some cash.
Booze - drop in for a beer somewhere.

Then some non-essentials;

New alarm clock
Back-up battery for good camera
Photograph for Cliff Railway pass
3-way electric adaptor

Other to do things;

Phone calls - seeing as I haven't got a phone line, nor mobile access at the moment

Time available: Arrive Barnstaple 1.30 ish, leave 4.40.

Time Spent:

Shopping, Bank & Etc.: 45 mins
Lunch: 45 mins
Pubs: 1hr 40 mins

It's great having the bus stop immediately outside the pub door:)))

Which is the thing about small towns, nothing is more than a few minutes walk away.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Everything required from your local market town
  • Cons:No all-night buses to rural areas - HA!
  • In a nutshell:Don't be fooled by first impressions
  • Last visit to Barnstaple: Jun 2013
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (37)

Comments (5)

  • isolatedpawn's Profile Photo
    Aug 16, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    nice pixs!

  • Myfanwe's Profile Photo
    Jul 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    Hia John, Thanks for the tour around Barnstaple (pubs) lol. I plan to visit here on my way to North Cornwall at the end of the month. I like the look of the Tarka Inn for lunch. Best Wishes from over the Channel!

  • TheView's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2007 at 11:20 AM

    YAMAS and a happy new year John. I am working on a new dish for the new years dinner. I will tell you how to make it if its turns out good ;-)

  • May 16, 2007 at 9:04 PM

    A-ha - John running errands - a different kind of trip! Really?! Well, very nicely said - useful tips for useful Barnstaple! Cheers, Marina

  • cuckoo's Profile Photo
    Oct 19, 2006 at 11:24 PM

    We had coffee here a couple of weeks ago, sitting outside. There was a jazz band playing here, late morning, which made it extra nice! I see they are opening a new pattisserie too soon, should be interesting. Nice to see a close(ish) neighbour on VT! C

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