Instow: The Beach for Dog Lovers…


We came for a mini break to Instow, near Bideford in Devon. It is, by far, the most dog friendly place I have ever visited. In fact, if you don’t like dogs, you will find this a difficult village to visit. We loved it.

We hired a cottage (through English Country Cottages) right next to the beach. We looked out, across the estuary, watching as the tide filled the bay and floated the boats, then went out again, leaving them stranded. When the tide was out, the expanse of hard sand was immense. Every dog owner in the world seemed to arrive – I never saw less than 20 dogs on the beach at any time. There were the early morning walkers (who tended to have annoying yappy little dogs) and the midday walkers with children. There were even ‘after dark’ walkers (they tended to have the big dogs).

Husband had brought his gym kit and persuaded me to bring mine. So we could go for runs along the beach. He has recently watched ‘Chariots of Fire’. I fear his image of young men training for the Olympics by running through sea spray was not going to match the reality of a couple over 50 staggering along, trying to avoid tripping on the dog lead. We never went.

Across the bay was Appledore, a pretty Devon village with cottages scattered up a hill. It looked like Toytown from our cottage. Bizarrely, although we could walk to fairly near it when the tide was out, the river was always too big to cross, so without a boat it was unreachable (unless you drove for miles to a bridge, I suppose).

Even the pubs and restaurants were dog-friendly. They also all displayed 5* hygiene ratings (when you feed the public, you start to take note of these things and avoid places with a low star rating.) We ate in a variety of pubs, all within Instow, all very friendly and with excellent menus. If you go in the summer, you probably need to book. We could even take the dog into the cafe on the front, as long as she sat quietly under the table.

Instow has quite a big military presence (as I discovered, if you read yesterday’s blog!) This is due to the US and British military using the Devon coastline to practice for the D-Day landings.


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