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Barnstaple - Devon
The market town of Barnstaple, inland from the coast at the head of the Taw estuary is a good base to tour the north Devon coast and the wild, empty uplands of Exmoor. (M5 from Bristol, then the A361 west). The huge timber-framed Pannier Market and Butcher's Row are well worth a look, as well as St.Ann's Chapel which became a grammar school in 1549 and which numbered among its pupils John Gay, author of "The Beggar's Opera". The Museum of North Devon contains a good collection of the 18th century pottery for which the area was noted.
The Tarka Line is the name given to the Barnstaple to Exeter rail route, after Henry Williamson's "Tarka the Otter", set in the Taw Valley. The train, travelling through a very sparsely populated part of Devon, stops at Crediton, birthplace and former bishopric of St. Boniface (patron saint of Germany and the Netherlands). This is excellent cycling country with extensive bicycle trails.
Next Stop: Bideford