Holidaying in North Devon this summer? Forget ‘beach-body ready’ and start planning which beach or beaches you’ll be heading for each day of your holidays. We’ve got a few suggestions ranging from those with vast miles of flat sand just screaming out for a bucket and spade to tip top rock-pooling sites and those with all sorts of water sports to sign up for.
Think of the beach and one of the first images that comes to mind is the family day out with children building sand castles, games of beach cricket and paddling in the shallow sea. North Devon has a few ideal places to head for when the sun is up.
Pack a picnic and head out to Putsborough – it a locals’ favourite at the Baggy Point end of Woolacombe beach with carpark, loos and cafe and is dog friendly.
Croyde beach is VERY popular and therefore can be crowded so a better option is the 4 mile long Saunton Sands. Stretching out beyond the Braunton Burrows Unesco Biosphere Reserve sand dunes (scene of D-Day landing practice) is a wonderfully flat beach with just enough rock pools at the cliff side to occupy the inquisitive. This dog friendly beach has lifeguards, huts, ice cream shop, loos, carpark, cafe and surf shop. When you’ve had enough of the sand and surf, head to the Museum of British Surfing on your way home through Braunton – the waxed surf boards smell divine.
Closest to Robin Hill Farm Cottage is the best sandy beach: Westward Ho! beach has been awarded Blue Flag status for cleanliness for 10+ years and offers 3 miles of flat beach and sea that gently rolls in and out. At the town end are lifeguards, carparks, loos, lots of cafes, amusements, miniature golf and rock pools AND two Hockings Ice Cream vans (made locally in Appledore since 1936, this is scrummy vanilla ice cream and definitely part of a beach trip!).
Half way along and accessed via Northam Burrows toll road through the famous Royal North Devon Golf Course is second lifeguarded section. Dogs are welcome on this section of beach all year (November to March only on the town end), the Northam Burrows Visitor Centre has loos and there is a refreshments van in the carpark.
Just over the Cornish border is Sandymouth beach – another vast expanse of – you guessed it – sand! Also lifeguarded and dog friendly with lots of interesting rock falls along the cliff edge – beware of the incoming tide as it is quite possible to become stranded beyond the rocks. Sandymouth has a National Trust carpark, ice cream shop and loos and lots of really interesting seaweeds!
For those of you who love delving into rock pools and exploring waterfalls or caves and maybe don’t mind a bit of walking to find such treasures head west onto the Hartland Peninsula where dogs are welcome on all beaches. Mouthmill Beach with its iconic toblerone shaped Blackchurch Rock is a gentle mile walk from the National Trust carpark at Brownsham - the rock pools on this beach are some of the best in North Devon, brimming with anemones – my favourites!
Hartland Quay has it all – dramatic, gigantic folded rock formations, caves, sand at low tide, crashing waves (spectacular in wild windy weather), a pub and plenty of parking space.
Just a little further along beyond Morwenstow is the most charming of coves at Duckpool – it’s not easy to find but well worth the effort. Park at the end of the road by the loos, note the ice cream van for refreshments, hop over the stream and pebbles and head down to the emerging strip of sand, incredible mussel covered rocks and a myriad of rock pools – we found a 6 inch star fish here!
North Devon is building quite a reputation with water & beach sports enthusiasts. You can sign up for surf lessons with North Devon Surf School at Westward Ho!. Also learn surfing at Croyde, and Saunton Sands. Skern Outdoor will take you abseiling at Hartland Quay; rafting and/or kayaking on the sea or River Torridge; also surfing at Westward Ho! If leaping off cliffs into the depths ie coasteering is your thing call up Active Escape.
The wind does whistle up the Bristol Channel which makes it ideal for kite-surfing and sand karting - which are great spectator sports! So if you’re heading out for a beach day, don’t forget a kite and a wind break (and maybe a fleece too)!