Muddlebridge House and Cottages
Muddlebridge House and Holiday Cottages occupies one of the most picturesque yet convenient semi-rural locations in North Devon. The location is enhanced by its close proximity to Fremington Quay, part of the North Devon Biosphere Reserve. Although the tranquility of the Reserve starts just a couple of hundred metres from our drive entrance, we are fortunate in also having an excellent range of local facilities and services within about half a mile.
Turn right out of our drive and immediately right again onto the single track with passing places which leads down to the stunning and popular location of Fremington Quay. After passing the reed bed which used to be actively farmed for thatch as part of the Muddlebridge House estate, the track runs alongside Fremington Pill, a tidal creek of about half mile length which flows into the Taw Estuary at the Quay. Barges and small coasters actually used to come up the Pill to take on clay and pottery. Now, particularly on a low tide, the Pill is a haven for a number of species of waders. As the Pill approaches the Quay, local anglers use it for mooring dayboats, one of which has been used recently by a grey seal to sun himself on!
Fremington Quay is steeped in history, having been one of the busiest ports and rail heads in the South West until beyond the middle of the 20th century. Although the Quay fell into disrepair after road transport replaced local shipping and the rail line closed in 1982, its historical significance was recognised in 2000 when local councils secured heritage funding to restore the three acre site. The Quay wall and rail platforms were rebuilt, alongside creation of a paddock and picnic enclosure. The lines of the old railway station were largely followed in the design of a new building which houses a very popular cafe/restaurant, fascinating heritage centre, a look-out tower and wardens’ accommodation. As part of the financing arrangements, three elegant detached houses were also built on the locations of old railway workers’ cottages. With spectacular views out over the wide estuary, the Quay is now considered by locals and visitors alike to be one of the most idyllic spots in North Devon to while away an hour or two, or to commence a walk or cycle ride on the traffic free Tarka Trail. The Trail crosses the Quay, following the route of the old railway line between Barnstaple and Bideford and well beyond. For this section, the Tarka Trail doubles as the South West Coastal Path and National Cycle Network Route 3.
For those who like a local ramble with or without a dog, the lane down to the Quay, then along the Trail for half a mile, picking up steps to a track which becomes Penhill Lane and leads back to Muddlebridge, provides a circular walk of just under 2 miles, with optional extensions. Several other circular walks can be taken within the local area of Fremington Parish using a variety of field and woodland paths, bridleways, parts of the Tarka Trail and estuary-side tracks.
Just 50 metres from our drive entrance are the bus stops for the excellent North Devon Wave service operated by Stagecoach with a fleet of very new double decker buses. The service operates every 15 minutes each way during the day, and half hourly in the evenings and Sundays, running between Ilfracombe, Braunton, Barnstaple (including rail station), Instow, Bideford and Northam/Appledore. Barnstaple and Bideford provide connections with services to other North Devon locations. Several local taxi firms operate in and around the Barnstaple and Fremington areas.
Whilst a Sainsburys superstore is just 5 minutes away by car (and a Tesco Extra and Lidl a few minutes further away, also on our side of Barnstaple adjacent to the rail station), we have an excellent range of facilities in the two villages on each side of us. Turn left out of our drive entrance onto the combined footpath/cycleway and a walk of less than 10 minutes take you to the convenience store with Post Office counter and the Old Barn Inn in Bickington. In the other direction, barely any further, the village of Fremington offers: a larger Costcutter convenience store, also with Post Office, a chemist, GP surgery, Graylings award-winning fish and chip shop, the New Inn and Fox & Hounds pubs, Han Court Chinese restaurant (and takeaway) and St Peters C of E church.