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Barnstaple - an Insider's View
Barnstaple in General
Member Name: alocin
Barnstaple in General
Date: 16/03/03, updated on 16/03/03 (180 review reads)
Advantages: Close to nice beaches, Nice floral displays
Disadvantages: Dead in winter, Full of tourists in summer
I happen to live in this town so you can get the insiders view of Barnstaple! If you don’t know where Barnstaple is (and I doubt you would have reason to) then it is on the North Devon coast down in a pretty straight line from Swansea across the Severn estuary. Barnstaple is not that big – around 30,000 people max – but it is the main market town of the area and the biggest urban development until you get to Exeter.
As I said Barnstaple is the market town of the area so most national shops have a store here – WH Smiths, Woolworths, Next, and on the outskirts Tesco, Sainsburys, Comet, Staples and so on. There are also dozens of smaller shops such as Roly’s Fudge (v yummy) and Jonkers (Indonesian sculptures and art). There are many places to eat ranging from McDonalds and Pizza Hut to traditional pubs and Jalapeno Peppers Mexican restaurant. Accommodation consists mainly of a few nice hotels in the centre and lots of little family run B&Bs. As entertainment goes Barnstaple boasts the Queens Theatre, which shows plays, music and other live performances (Derren Brown is visiting in April) and a multi screen cinema. There is also a new tennis centre and a leisure centre for sporting types (i.e. not me).
Barnstaple itself is a tourist attraction having won the Britain in Bloom competition several times and the World in Bloom title recently. This means there are always loads of floral displays in public areas and people compete to win the best-kept garden competition. Some areas of Barnstaple are very historic including the Long Bridge and Castle Mound (a hill where there used to be a castle – better than it sounds, honest). Realistically for most tourists Barnstaple is a base where they can stay or go shopping as the best attractions are in the surrounding countryside. There are several really nice beaches such as Croyde – a surfers paradise – and theme parks such
as The Big Sheep and The Milky Way. Barnstaple is also only a short drive away from Exmoor National Park.
As a student I can tell you that I probably don’t have the same opinion of Barnstaple as you as a visitor or tourist would have. At North Devon College (up a hill on the edge of Barnstaple) the general view is that Barnstaple is a dump surrounded by even worse tiny villages. I don’t know one student who intends to stay living in Barnstaple. This is because there isn’t a lot for teenagers to do – there are plenty of pubs but very few clubs and in winter Barnstaple is pretty dead. If you don’t live here though Barnstaple would be an ok place to visit – even us students don’t complain when lying on the beach in summer! If you like walking on coast paths, beaches and moorland, followed by a cream tea then this place is heaven!