Lying on the west bank of the mouth of the River Torridge near where it converges with the River Taw, Appledore is a charmingly quaint little port with a big seafaring heritage stretching back more than 1,000 years. The village existed as early as Saxon times and it had its moment of glory when Viking raiders were defeated there in the Battle of Bloody Corner in 878AD – a plaque marking the spot can be seen on the road between Appledore and Northam. The port was made a free port by Queen Elizabeth I in recognition of the role played by the local sailors and ships in the fight against the Spanish Armada of 1588. As a reminder of that time there are Tudor buildings built from ship’s timbers among the charming fishermen’s cottages. Boat-building began here as early as the 15th century, and continues to this day, although in a greatly reduced form. The North Devon Maritime Museum has its home in Appledore, and offers displays on the area’s seafaring history, including shipbuilding, wartime memories and the area’s smuggling past.
The waterfront and the narrow streets behind it offer an entrancing mix of cottages, many of them holiday rentals, shops, pubs, restaurants and art galleries. There is a promenade lining the estuary, which is muddy with strong currents, making swimming unsafe. However, those wanting to take to the water can go on a fishing or leisure boat trip from the harbour, or take the ferry across to Instow (April to October only). Walkers can take a path from the old custom house and lifeboat station which leads to the Northam Burrows Country Park, a site of special scientific interest with sand dunes and other habitats teeming with wildlife.
Map of the area.