You may have heard that Woolacombe beach was recently voted the best beach in the UK. It’s one of our favourites too, with 3 miles of glorious sands, and the blue flag award for clean water, it’s only 10/15 minutes drive from Stowford. There’s only one main road down into Woolacombe, then once you reach the seafront you’ll see a range of different car parking options. Parking isn’t cheap but for a full day at the beach with the whole family it still works out to be a great value day out – don’t forget to pack your picnic (ice creams and drinks are available from the vans on the beach). Tip – to get to the quieter areas of the beach follow the main road past the first two car parks to get to the Marine Drive car park – the further along you go in this car park the quieter, and if you have dogs you can let them run free on the beach beyond Mill rock.
Another beach in Woolacombe is the lovely Barricane beach. This beautiful cove is a bit of a local’s secret and once you get there you’ll see why they want to keep it to themselves – the beach is made entirely of crushed shells, children can spend many happy hours finding interesting shells and seaglass while the adults relax. There is a small cafe selling tea, cake and sandwiches, and on a nice evening you can try out ‘Spicy nights’ at Barricane where the chef cooks up authentic Sri Lankan curries which you can enjoy on the beach while watching the sunset – just perfect! To get to Barricane turn right onto the Esplanade in Woolacombe and walk/drive along until you see a small hut where the steps start. (There are no toilets here so you’ll need to walk down to the main beach car park. Also this beach has no lifeguards.)
In Ilfracombe you can find the award-winning and unique Tunnels Beaches. To get here drive to Ilfracombe and head towards the seafront, near the Landmark Theatre you’ll see some on-street metered parking and there is also a small car park opposite the entrance to the Tunnels. There is a small entrance fee to get onto the Tunnels beach, you can then enter the historical tunnels and read fun and interesting information boards about the history of Ilfracombe and the beaches. When you get through to the main beach you’ll be able to appreciate it’s beautiful rugged setting and the views along the coast. And the Victorian tidal bathing pool is perfect for swimming with kids, as it’s enclosed you can safely use your inflatibles (when the tide is out) and there is a lifeguard on duty.
Also in Ilfracombe there are Raparee (near the skate park by Hillsborough) and Hele – both are shingly rockpooling beaches which are great for kids.
Croyde beach is a classic sandy surfing beach, about 20/25 minutes drive from Stowford (head to Braunton then follow the coast road past Saunton, or take the small road through Georgeham which comes out in the centre of Croyde). There are car parks on boths sides of the beach, from these it’s a short walk down onto the beach where you can set up for the day and swim/surf with the whole family. The village is pretty too, with lovely ice cream shops and popular pub ‘The Thatch‘. Tip – In Croyde there is also a National Trust car park where you can park and take the gentle walk out to Baggy Point (this is a level path which is suitable for pushchairs – some steeps drops near the path though)
This is nowhere near a complete list of beaches in North Devon, just some we know from personal experience. If you’re here call in to the office for directions, or try looking at an online map to spot Westward Ho!, Saunton, Putsborough, Combesgate, Rockham, Lee, Broad Strand, Combe Martin and more…