Saturday, 20 February 2016

WESTWARD HO!



Anywhere with a name ending in an exclamation mark has got to be worth investigating.  I always imagined that Charles Kingsley’s seafaring adventure story of the same name had taken its name from the place, but it turns out it was the other way around.  The novel, which was set in nearby Bideford, was written in 1855, but Westward Ho! was not established until 1863 as a purpose-built resort on the initiative of the Northam Burrows Hotel and Villa Building Company.  They decided it would be a good idea to capitalise on the popularity of this corner of Devon brought about by Kingsley’s novel.   The resort’s literary connections do not end there, however.  There is a hilly area just outside the town called Kipling Tors, named after Rudyard Kipling, who attended the United Services College in Westward Ho! from 1878 to 1882.  Kipling’s collection of stories called ‘Stalky & Co’ was based on his experiences at the college. 

Westward Ho! boasts a sandy beach which extends for over two miles, with Northam Burrows Country Park (see Appledore) just behind, separated from the beach by Pebble Ridge.  There is a rock pool which has been closed for some time due to storm damage, but this is set to reopen this summer.  The resort itself has a family-oriented range of cafes, amusements and shops.  At the edge of the Country Park is the NorthDevon Golf Club.  Walkers can make their way along the South West Coast Path, or head out along the footpaths around Kipling Tors.  

Map of the area. 

File:Westward Ho^ , Breaking Wave, Sandy Beach and Coastline - geograph.org.uk - 1490504.jpg
Photo by Lewis Clarke, via Wikimedia Commons

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