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Explore the Local Area

Westcott can easily occupy you for days; explore it at your leisure. The breathtaking landscape and outstanding wildlife offer the perfect photographic opportunities for even the most inexperienced photographer. Or why not set up an easel, unpack your watercolours and capture forever the beauty that surrounds you? Or just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet!

However, should you want to venture further afield, Westcott is an excellent base from which to explore North Devon, from National Trust properties and gardens to the coast and the moors. Arlington Court is only a few miles away; this Regency property was bequeathed to the National Trust by Miss Rosalie Chichester in 1949; here, between May and September, visitors can view Devon's largest colony of Lesser Horseshoe bats via the 'batcam'. Even nearer are the famous Marwood Hill Gardens which can be reached by walking the footpath from Westcott Barton. En route, why not stop at the 14th Century Marwood church and admire the sundial which shows the time in Jerusalem and the main capitals of 18th Century Europe? For the keen gardener, the RHS gardens at Rosemoor are not to be missed.

The nearby town of Barnstaple, which straddles the River Taw, is one of England's oldest boroughs and was for centuries a major port and shipyard. Vestiges of its prosperous past can be seen in the quiet backstreets. A few miles beyond the estuary are Tapeley Gardens which are rich in rare plants and offer spectacular views of rivers and hills. Also within easy reach of Westcott Barton is the small town of Braunton; here one can visit the 13th century church which has many unusual roof bosses and carved benchends. For sunny days, Woolacombe Sands and Croyde Bay offer flat yellow beaches which have Blue Flag status.

Birdwatchers, cyclists and ramblers will find many places of interest. For birdwatchers, Chapel Wood RSPB reserve is only a few miles from Westcott. Another perfect spot for ornithologists is Braunton Burrows; this designated UNESCO biosphere stretches for four miles along the north side of the Taw and Torridge estuaries. Here one can see the largest sand dune system in the UK which has a very diverse plant community. Many sea and marsh birds can be observed; this is a stopping place for migrating waders in spring and autumn, and, in winter, merlins, harriers and short-eared owls are among the birds of prey which hunt here. Along the coast to the North, one can stop off at Baggy Point, a jagged slate headland good for viewing seabirds.

A boat trip to Lundy Island is highly recommended; once there, one has time to view some of the 425 recorded bird species including puffins, razorbills and peregrine falcons. For the energetic, it is possible to walk around the whole island and still manage to catch the boat home! For the geologist, Lundy's granite and slate formations are of interest; it was from here that the granite for the Embankment in London came. Should you tire of chasing birds why not see them in captivity at the Bird of Prey Centre at the Milky Way Adventure Park in Bideford? For cyclists and walkers, the nearby Tarka Trail offers 32 miles of traffic free tracks; cycle hire is widely available. For ramblers, there are 80 miles of coast path and 700 miles of Exmoor footpaths to investigate! Other interests are well catered for in North Devon; these include golf, horse riding, surfing and angling.