Instow to Westward Ho! Walk: guide and directions

Coloured houses in Appledore

The Instow to Westward Ho! walk takes you along the coastal path, from the picturesque riverside village of Instow to Westward Ho!’s sandy beaches. This North Devon route walks up and down the River Torridge, crossing it at Bideford and then through the Northam Burrows from Appledore to Westward Ho!

This is part of the South West Coast Path, but this part and the previous walk joins with the Tarka Trail as it veers away from the coast. The previous walk, Braunton to Instow, left the coast at Saunton Sands and traverses through Braunton Burrows before reaching Braunton.

It then crosses the River Taw, and this Instow to Westward Ho walk crosses the River Torridge. The picturesque scenery of the Taw-Torridge Estuary makes for a change from the many coastal walks in the area! 

Although it is not by the coast, it takes in some of the most spectacular North Devon riverside scenery. Keep an eye out for beautiful flora on this route, and spend some time watching out for birds too!

This is an easy walk, much of which is on disused railway tracks. This means that it is perfectly flat and suitable for both hikers and cyclists. 

Instow to Westward Ho! walk on the South West Coast Path

Instow

View of Instow beach with Appledore in the background

Instow is a beautiful North Devon village that sits on the River Torridge. On a clear day, you’ll be able to enjoy stunning water views over the river, with fantastic views of Appledore in the background.

Unfortunatley, there is no Instow to Appledore bridge, although you can take a ferry at certain times. However, most people end up doing the Instow to Westward Ho! walk if they miss the ferry. 

It’s worth spending some time seeing Instow Sands and enjoying the atmosphere of the village. 

The walk from Instow to Bideford Is an easy, straight walk along a railway trackbed turned cycle path. This is the coast path, but it doesn’t seem like it as it winds up the River Torridge. Take the cycle track as you leave the village, walking up the River Torridge away from the sea. Look out for an abundance of plants en route!

You’ll pass the disused Instow station and travel through the cycle path as you walk up to Bideford. The South West Coastal Path is easy to follow here, as it travels in a straight line all the way up to the town. 

Bideford

Bideford long bridge

Bideford is an ancient market town with lots of old buildings, set in a scenic position alongside the River Torridge. It’s famous for its Torridge Bridge, a long arched historical bridge in the centre of town. It is also on the Tarka Trail, and there’s a statue of Tarka the Otter in town. 

There are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat for lunch here – there’s a Co Op if you would like to just get a sandwich, a Whetherspooons, or lots of independent restaurants. 

The railway route continues the other side of town, travelling down the River Torridge back toward the seafront on a paved path. The South West Coast Path finally ventures back to the coast itself! 

Appledore

Coloured houses in Appledore

Appledore is a charming North Devon village located X miles from Bideford on the South West Coast Path. It is famous for its waterfront location on the Taw-Torridge Estuary and street of beautiful coloured terrace houses. Keep an eye out for the coastal views and Lundy Island in the distance as you walk around town. 

The picturesque village is perfect for a stroll around, or you could also stay here if you don’t fancy walking all the way to Westward Ho! In my opinion, it’s much nicer. You’ll even be able to take in spectacular views of Instow in the background – where you started your walk today! 

Where to stay in Appledore

There is limited accommodation in Appledore, but you should find a few options if you choose to stay here! 

Skern Lodge is a campsite that accepts walk-in hikers and is located about a 15 minute walk from Appledore. 

The Seagate is a lovely hotel with luxurious rooms, some with breath-taking views, and a pub downstairs. It’s also a lovely place for an evening meal, or you can enjoy a full English breakfast in the morning. Click here for more information. 

Northam Burrows Country Park

Horses in Northam Burrows

Here the South West coast path once again joins the coast, as you walk through the Northam Burrows Country Park and towards the resort town of Westward Ho!. The Northam Burrows are an assortment of sand dunes where you can catch excellent views of the sea and the town of Westward Ho!.

They aren’t quite as epic as the Braunton Burrows, which are the largest sand dune group in the UK. They are located a little further north though – also well worth checking out if you are in the area. There’s also an abundance of wildlife in the area. 

However, if you don’t want to walk through the burrows you can take an alternative route and walk across the headland directly to Westward Ho! 

Westward Ho! 

Westward Ho! Beach in North Devon

First things first, Westward Ho! is really spelt like that. It was named, exclamation mark and all, after a book by Charles Kingsley who was a local novelist. It was a seaside village created just for the purpose of tourism, and nowadays it remains a resort town. 

In my opinion, there are many more beautiful places to visit in North Devon, but it’s a well-connected place to stay and you can hike to Clovelly from here as well.

Things to do in Westward Ho! 

How to get back to Instow from Westward Ho! 

It is a short drive from Westward Ho! to Instow, but there are also public transport options.

There is a regular bus service leaving Westward Ho! that connects to Instow and further along, to Barnstaple and Ilfracombe. If you are venturing further afield, there is a railway and bus station in Barnstaple. Take a look at bus timetables before you go, but the bus usually runs every half hour. 

Barnstaple Station has connections to Exeter (journey time approx one hour), where you can catch a train to London, Bristol, and other cities. 

Where to stay in Westward Ho!

If you are looking for overnight accommodation options in Westward Ho!, I would recommend staying at Culloden House.

A Victorian mansion, the B&B has cosy and comfortable rooms and beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. The hosts are friendly and happy to help with anything that you’ll need. Click here for rates and to reserve your spot.

Tips for the North Devon Coast Path

View of Instow beach right by the river

North Devon is an absolutely beautiful location and a fun place for a road trip. I would recommend taking your time in the area so you can see all of the beautiful bays and hidden coves. 

If you are visiting in the summer, it’s a good idea to book your accommodation early, especially if you want hotels with en-suite facilities. Campsites are a lot easier to book last minute!

This is one of the easiest walks on this stretch of the path, but for more moderate walks you might want to look into a luggage transfer service. These services will drive your luggage from place to place so you don’t need to worry about carrying it! I have used and recommend luggagetransfers.co.uk.

There are also holiday packages where they organise accommodation and baggage transfers for you – but these can be quite expensive and sometimes have hidden additional costs. I’ve got lots of resources to help you plan your South West Coast Path adventure independently! 

The next stop on the South West Coastal Path

Once you get to Westward Ho!, the path stops being a railway route and turns into more of a rugged coast path, with stunning views over the sea rather than the river.

The South West Coast Path does get more difficult from here, with hills that you won’t have experienced since Exmoor National Park. The good news is that you’ll see pristine beaches and epic vistas from the cliff paths! 

The next stop is Clovelly, and you can see my Westward Ho! to Clovelly walk guide here. Or, see all of my South West Coast Path blog posts here. 

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