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Barnstaple Attractions - The River Torridge

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The River Torridge is in the north west of Devon and travels in a loop before joining the River Taw at Appledore and flowing into the Bristol Channel. The River Torridge starts its winding journey near Hartland, in the north western corner of Devon.

The river is 48 miles long and rises at Baxworthy Cross before hurrying down to the estuary at Bideford. It goes in a loop, at first heading south east and then north west where it joins with the Taw estuary and flows into the Bristol Channel.

The Taw-Torridge estuary forms a part of the Tarka Trail, a walking and cycling route taking in a section of the rivers featured in Henry Williamson's novel, Tarka the Otter.

At the other end, so to speak, a major tributary of the Torridge, the River Okement, rises amid the granite tors Dartmoor. Its catchment area is almost entirely rural and the places it passes through are mostly villages and hamlets.

The main towns are Great Torrington and Bideford, and the latter has suffered greatly from flooding down the years. A multi-million pound flood defence scheme is now being built at Bideford Quay, so it's hoped major flooding may soon be a thing of the past. Spanning the river, with its 24 arches, is the Grade 1 listed Long Bridge, which was originally built of wood in the 13th century. It's since been strengthened and altered and is now made of stone.

There's also a newer bridge across the river at Bideford, which was built to take the load of modern, heavy traffic. The river played a big part in Bideford's development centuries ago, helping the growth of the textile industry, with much of the wool and silk being shipped out from the town's quay.

At Appledore, on the estuary, boat building has taken place for centuries - and the industry will continue there after Devonport-based DML bought the shipyard.

Tarka country

The Torridge continues to play an important environmental role. A large portion of the Taw-Torridge estuary is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), because of the wading birds, wildfowl and other wildlife which can be found there. The river also has salmon, sea trout and brown trout. However, the salmon population has decreased alarmingly in recent years, prompting the Environment Agency to introduce a Salmon Action Plan.

The plan also covers several other rivers in Devon, including the Taw. And then there are the otters, as made famous by Tarka. The Torridge catchment supports one of the best otter populations in England.

Not only that, but the population is growing and is of international importance. This largely unspoilt part of Devon attracts thousands of visitors each year, and the Torridge is one the big draws for sightseers, canoeists, anglers and bird-watchers.

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Abbeyford Woods, Near Okehampton, Tel: 01409 221692
Big Sheep (The), Abbotsham, Bideford, EX39 5AP Tel: 01237 472366
Bradworthy Transport Msm, Higher Alsworthy Farm Tel: 01409 241597
Braunton & District Museum, Braunton, Tel: 01271 816688
Brocklands Adventure Park, West Street Bude, Tel: 01288 321225
Broomhill Art Hotel & Gardens, Muddiford Tel: 01271 850262
Burton Art Gallery & Msm, Kingsley Road, Tel: 01237 471455
Castle Hill, Filleigh, Barnstaple, EX32 0RQ Tel: 01598 760 336
Clovelly Court Garden, , Clovelly , EX39 5TA Tel: 01237 431
Clovelly Village Visitor Centre, Clovelly, Bideford, Tel: 01237 431781

Cobbaton Combat Collection, Chittlehampton, Tel: 01769 540740
Cheristow Lavender, C Lavender Farm, Hartland, Tel: 01237 440078
Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park, C.Martin, Tel: 01271 882486
Dartington Crystal, Dartington Crystal, Torrington, Tel: 01805 626242
Docton Mill Gardens, Spekes Valley, Hartland, Tel: 01237 441369
Dovetails Gallery, 60 High Street, Ilfracombe, Tel: 01271 864769
Dragon Archery Centre, Westcott Cott, Holsworthy, Tel: 0800 0372466
Eggesford Forest, Eggesford, Tel: 01409 221 692
Eggesford Garden & Country Centre, Eggesford, Tel: 01769 580250
Exmoor Zoo Park, South Stowford B. Fleming, Tel: 01598 763352

Gnome Reserve, West Putford, Nr Bradworthy Tel: 01409 241435
Halsdon Wood, Great Torrington, Okehampton, Tel: 01392 279244
Hartland Abbey & Gardens, Hartland, Nr Bideford, Tel: 01237 441264
Hartland Peninsula, Hartland, North Devon, Tel: 01237 431504
Hartland Pottery, Hartland, Nr Bideford, EX39 6DE Tel: 01237 441693
Heddon Hall Gardens, Parracombe, EX31 4QL Tel: 01598 763541
Holsworthy Community Woods, Holsworthy, Tel: 01409 221692
Ilfracombe Aquarium, Ilfracombe Harbour, Tel: 01271 864533
Lundy Island, The Quay, Bideford, EX39 2LY Tel: 01271 863636
Marwood Hill Gardens, Marwood Hill, EX31 4EB Tel: 01271 342528

Milky Way Adventure Park, Clovelly, Bideford, Tel: 01237 431255
Plough Arts Centre (The), 9-11 Fore St, Torrington, Tel: 01805 624624
Queens Theatre, Boutport Street, Barnstaple, Tel: 01271 324242
Quince Honey Farm, North Road, South Molton, Tel: 01769 572401
RHS Garden Rosemoor, Rosemoor, Torrington, Tel: 01805 624067
Tarka Cruises, 20 Market Street, Appledore, Tel: 01237 476 191
Tarka Garden Tours, Barleycott Blakewell, Barns, Tel: 01271 375002
Tarka Line (The), D & C Rail Pnership, Plymouth, Tel: 01752 233094
Torrington 1646, Castle Hill South St, Torrington, Tel: 01805 626146
Tropiquaria, Washford Cross, Watchet, TA23 0QB Tel: 01984 640 688

Tunnels Beaches, Bath Place, Ilfracombe, Tel: 01271 879123
Watermouth Castle, Ilfracombe, EX34 9SL Tel: 01271 867474
Westcountry Nurseries, Donkey Meadow, Bideford, Tel: 01237 431111

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Serious Shopping: Dartington Crystal, Green Lanes and of course Atlantic Village.

And finally for the active ones: Loads of Golf, Cascades, North Devon Karting and Skern Lodge.

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Going out tonight? Then why not make an evening into a party... Visit Exult for all your fancy dress and costume hire....

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