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Why sailors head for this North Devon haven

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 09, 2013

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North Devon is the new South Devon, say the happy homeowners of Instow, a property hotspot on the coast between Bideford and Barnstaple.

Here, the combination of safe sailing waters, lovely countryside and attractive 19th century architecture has seen house prices shoot up in recent years. Small wonder then, that another popular saying locally is that Instow is "the new Padstow".

So what is so special about this village of 780 people? Perhaps it is the fact that the old railway branchline brought Victorian visitors here, to build the handsome waterside houses which are so sought-after today. Instow's property prices have risen 2% in the past year and the average asking price is now £388,000.

Alas, the railway fell foul of Dr Beeching's cuts in the 1960s, but the 130-year-old signal box can still be visited, complete with heritage centre. Indeed, it is the only Grade II listed signal box in the UK. The railway line is now part of the hugely popular 30-mile Tarka Trail for walkers and cyclists. It runs right through the village, making Instow a popular day out destination.

The village sits on the estuary where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet and spill out into the Bristol Channel. It has pretty views on the opposite bank of the equally pretty village of Appledore.

Many desirable homes have come up for sale here in recent years.

The village now has a vibrant and welcoming community, based around its yacht and cricket clubs, its school and its lively pubs.

There is a sandy beach at Instow as well as sand dunes that are home to some rare species of orchid, including the pyramid orchid.

The bathing waters here have struggled to pass muster with EU bathing standards in recent years but the beach is nonetheless popular with families, sailors and dog walkers. More positively, despite its beachside location, flooding from the sea has not been a problem. And it has spectacular sunsets out to sea.

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