Bideford is a town on the River Torridge estuary, inland from Westward Ho! and the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in south-west England.
A bustling local market town, a visit to Bideford focusses around the narrow streets of the town centre, and the port below, used by both fishermen and pleasure craft. The Torridge river is crossed at Bideford by a long stone bridge, of medieval origins and with 24 stone arches of different sizes (the heart of Bideford is on the west bank of the river).
The newly refurbished port area has pretty pastel painted fishermen cottages lining the quay, and is a pleasant place for a stroll, while the grander 17th century merchant houses in the town hark back to the days when Bideford was the third most important port in the whole of England.
The market in Bideford is held in the Victorian Pannier Market each Tuesday and Saturday. A good selection of shops and cafes are also found in the town, while the Atlantic Village Shopping Centre is a substantial enclosed shopping area where leading brands are available at discount prices.
Bideford also has a reputation for it's New Year's Eve celebrations, perhaps the liveliest day in Bideford's calendar. This tradition dates back many centuries, when the traditional feat was to run from one end of the bridge to the other before the bells had finished ringing in the new year. more of a challenge now, since the bridge has been widened several times over the centuries.
Curious footnote: when Charles Kingsley wrote the novel Westward Ho! it was based in Bideford - the nearby town of the same name was constructed later and took the name from the book (see Westward Ho!)
Map of Bideford and places to visit
Bideford places to visit
See more places nearby in the Devon guide