Little Meadow

UK England South West England Devon Ilfracombe

  • Electrical hook-ups
  • Dogs welcome
  • Beaches nearby
  • Good walks nearby
Well-tended terraces providing magnificent ocean views

The ancient South American tribes of Inca and Maya might have invented terracing to help with their crop cultivation, but seldom can they have done it so well as the folk have here at Little Meadow. By levelling off the land in a series of flat lawns they’ve ensured that campers benefit from being plumb-line level with the well-tended soft grass for easy tent pegging,while still enjoying views of the stunning North Devon coast. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has everything: dramatic cliffs, wide sandy beaches and quaint little coves and harbours.

The terracing also helps create privacy – you’d never guess there are 50 pitches on this unassuming, environmentally friendly campsite, all set in a beautifully kept 100-acre organic farm. Part of this is down to their sensible policy on dwelling size, with the campsite owners actively discouraging mega-size tents or massive motorhomes. Everywhere you walk brings another unexpected delight, whether it’s a rabbit hip-hopping across a nearby meadow, or a set of swings for kids tucked away in a corner. There’s also an outdoor table tennis-table set up for use by all guests, and you can buy bats and balls at reception. While here, why not pick up some of the store’s lovely regional products – from bacon, eggs and local meats to truly moreish homemade cakes. Bright splashes of flowers border the pitching areas, providing colourful framing to the views over Watermouth Bay, the Bristol Channel and the cliffs of Hangman Point. Its proximity to all things nautical is also in evidence, with huge old anchors, carved driftwood and colourful floats and buoys scattered around the reception area. It’s a magnificent spot in which to settle comfortably into a deckchair, or one of the giant hammocks, and survey the scenery – you might even spy a seal or a basking shark if you’re lucky (and in possession of a good pair of binoculars).

If you can drag yourself away, though, there are several must-dos in the area. A day trip to Lundy Island, by ferry from nearby Ilfracombe, offers outstanding views of England, Wales and the Atlantic. It might be just 11 miles from the mainland, but the sense of remoteness is incredible. There’s no ferry between November and March, but well-heeled folk can always opt for the daily helicopter service (Mon–Fri). You should also consider taking a fishing trip from Ilfracombe to catch bass, pollack, whiting, cod and mackerel, which are all plentiful here. Gut them on the boat – under the tutelage of the skipper, of course – and you could have your breakfast, lunch and dinner sorted for the day. Alternatively, spend a day learning to ride the waves at one of the many surf schools in the area, at Woolacombe, Croyde or Saunton Sands; or take a beach horse-riding lesson courtesy of Woolacombe Riding Stables.There’s also Exmoor on your doorstep, of course, which is fabulous for walking. Plus it’s not far from the site to the Hunter’s Inn pub, from where there are any number of glorious treks you could do, including an easy stroll to the sea at Heddon’s Mouth, after which you’ll definitely have earned yourself a pint at the pub.

Details

Facilities

The washblock has toilets (disabled access), hot showers, a washing machine and hairdryers. There’s also ice-pack freezing and a basic shop selling essentials, fresh organic milk, homemade cakes and local farm meats. Hook-ups are available. There’s a small, wooded play area for kids, as well as table tennis, WiFi and a dog-exercising area. No campfires.

Suitable For

Tents, campervans, caravans, dogs (on leads) – yes. Groups, mega-size tents and huge motorhomes – no.

Nearby

The closest attraction to the site is Watermouth Castle (01271 867474), a large stately home with old-fashioned exhibitions inside and a theme park behind – good fun for children. Just the other side of nearby Combe Martin, the Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park (01271 882486) is a zoo-cum-theme park with a dinosaur slant – including some fantastic roaring animatronic creatures, alongside seals, monkeys, a spot of falconry and whatever else they have been able to squeeze in. In the opposite direction you can explore the rockpools at the unique Victorian Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe (01271 879882), and enjoy the landscaped seafront nearby, with its Landmark Theatre, which doubles as the local information centre. Ilfracombe also has a couple of museums that are worth visiting on rainy days – the Ilfracombe Town Museum, on the seafront, (01271 863541) and a small aquarium in the harbour (01271 864533), not to mention the long- standing Walker’s Chocolate Emporium (01271 867193), which makes and sells its own chocolates and sweets. For a beautiful, tucked-away coastal spot, check out Barricane Beach at nearby Woolacombe, a lovely inlet that is the final destination for millions of small shells that are whisked here from the Caribbean. Woolacombe Beach itself is a beautiful spot, whether you are surfing or just beach- lounging – the latter is best done at its far end, known as Putsborough Beach, where a lovely café overlooks the sea. Further around the headland there are the glorious expanses of Croyde and Saunton Sands – and the dunescape of Braunton Burrows just behind, which is a fabulous natural soft-play environment for kids.

Food & Drink

The on-site shop sells milk, cheese, eggs and home-made cakes. For a real culinary treat why not try La Gendarmerie (01271 865984). Gazpacho (01271 862545) offers fabulously authentic paella cooked by a Spanish chef; Espresso (01271 855485) is a seafood restaurant famous for its crab and lobster dishes – all caught locally. Brit-art wonderboy Damien Hirst’s Number 11 The Quay (01271 868090), both fly the flag for modern British cuisine, and the latter has great sea views from its main dining room, as well as a convivial downstairs bar with outside tables. Try also the renowned Sri Lankan curry shack pitched on the edge of the sand at Barricane Beach during the summer months. There’s not much in Combe Martin itself, although the large Pack o’ Cards pub (01271 882300), halfway up the long high street (Britain’s longest in fact), does pub grub and has a nice beer garden with lots of activities for kids. Within walking distance, The Old Sawmill Inn (01271 882259) is a perfectly serviceable family pub down the hill near Watermouth Bay.

Opening Times

Easter – late September.

The Owner Says

Little Meadow is a small, uncommercial camping site with panoramic views over Combe Martin bay and the Bristol Channel. We offer quiet, peaceful camping in North Devon’s tranquil surroundings. The campsite is set on a 100 acre organic farm with 50 individually marked pitches, each with stunning views. Children are welcome at Little Meadow and we have a quiet, traffic free, wooded play area. We do also welcome well-behaved dogs and there is a large dog run field on site. A small shop on site offers freshly baked croissants, pain au chocolat and baguettes daily, local bacon eggs, milk and other basic groceries, and WiFi is also available on site. We accept tents, touring caravans and motor homes, and are open between March and September every year.

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Pitches

Approximately 50 pitches (draughty in high winds), plus an octagonal camping pod is being built.

No availability showing at Little Meadow.

Location

Contact Little Meadow, Watermouth, Ilfracombe, North Devon EX34 9SJ

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Getting There

Little Meadow lies between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin. It’s about an hour from the M5; leave at J27, take the A361 to Barnstaple. Just past the South Molton exit, turn right to Allercross roundabout (signposted Combe Martin). Go through Combe Martin; the campsite is 500 metres past Watermouth Castle on the left. Get to Barnstaple on the train. You’ll then need to catch the bus; there’s a bus stop at the site’s entrance.

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