Tag Archive | beach

Wind on Woolacombe Down

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Where do you choose for a walk on a blustery November day? Somewhere in a sheltered valley, perhaps? Not us – we choose to go to the windiest place we know – the top of Woolacombe Down, to experience the full force of the weather. There is a lovely network of paths over the downs and through the dunes behind the beach.

 

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According to this plaque they were opened to commemorate the coronation of King George V on 22nd June 1911. I didn’t know that..

 

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Looking back down the slope you can see Woolacombe nestled at the northern end of the beach. Bustling in summer, it is quieter this time of year, but plenty of people come down even in winter to surf and walk and generally enjoy the views.

 

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And you can see why, as the views are just stunning. Woolacombe beach is long, smooth, sandy and unspoiled. The headland to the south is Baggy Point, separating Woolacombe Bay from Croyde Bay.

 

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The headland to the north is Morte Point, on the north-west corner of the North Devon coast. The views from this walk are really superb.

The top of the down is grazed by a domestic herd of Exmoor ponies, looking perfectly at home despite the wind.

 

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Once over the brow of the hill, the wind dropped a little, and we took a path curving round the front of the down back towards Woolacombe.

 

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Faced with a choice of returning through the dunes, or walking along the beach, we couldn’t resist getting closer to the fantastic waves.

There were a few hardy dog-walkers on the beach, and three lucky riders cantering their horses across the sands.

 

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What a perfect place to spend a windy Sunday morning, especially as it was followed by brunch in a cafe in Woolacombe, overlooking the sea. I can highly recommend a winter weekend in North Devon to blow the cobwebs away!

 

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Swimming and Al-fresco Dining

August in Devon means visitors – friends and family wanting the best of the British seaside. They are most welcome, as I get to have a holiday too, showing them the sights. We have walked and surfed and photographed, and have eaten ice creams and cream teas and fish and chips.

Not everyone wants to come bodyboarding with me in the strong Atlantic waves, so I have been searching out some quieter swimming spots on the north coast, in the shelter of the Bristol Channel.

 

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This has to be my favourite, a little cove called Broadsands, accessible via 240 steps down from the coast path. Peaceful most of the time, it does however get visited by the boat trips that run from Ilfracombe, but they don’t land, just admire the view from the boats.

Another cove that we swam in last week is Lee Bay, which at mid-tide is just a rocky mess. But as the tide drops it reveals a smooth strip of golden sand, perfect for a gentle swim.

 

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We also discovered that by passing through a narrow gap in the rocks, one finds a smuggler’s path…

 

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…which leads through rocks and gullies…

 

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…into the next bay.

 

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Not as sandy, but nice and secluded.

Lee has another wonderful aspect – the little cafe serves pizzas on a Tuesday evening in the summer, and very good they are too. Sitting outside at high tide, with the water covering all the rocks and lapping at the wall ten feet away, and eating delicious food by candlelight as the sun set has got to be one of the most magical experiences in North Devon.

 

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Another reasonably quiet beach, just north of the busy stretch of Woolacombe, is Combesgate. Descending the steps at mid tide it looks like a small cove.

 

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But once the tide goes out it opens up to a wide stretch of sand, with huge rock pools and gullies to explore.

 

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But the best bit about Combesgate at low tide is that you can walk round the end of the rocks to the best Sri Lankan restaurant in North Devon!

 

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Here it is…walking up onto Barricane Beach…doesn’t look much, does it? Just a narrow strip of sand, and not soft golden sand either, but sharp, shell sand. With a tiny cafe in a cabin at the top.

 

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This very unprepossessing little shack is owned by a Sri Lankan, and every evening through the season, it turns out plate after plate of delicious authentic curry. Served on china with proper cutlery, and eaten on your knees sitting on the sand, it is a real experience. After all, how many restaurants have this as a view?

 

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Locals and tourists alike love it, and we turn up in our droves with clinking bags of wine and beer, folding chairs, and huge smiles. I like to get there early and have a dip first, and check the beach for cowries and sea glass. Unfortunately on a busy sunny day it can get rather busy, but the atmosphere is still great!

 

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So there you are, some of the best swimming and eating beaches in North Devon. And if you really prefer the huge stretches of sand and the surfing waves, then Woolacombe is just around the corner.

 

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Sunset at the beach

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We have had to endure some very Devon weather the last week or so. Fog, rain, wind, mist, and hail, often in the same day. This afternoon the skies finally cleared, so we headed for the beach to watch the sun set.

 

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Woolacombe beach is backed by high sand dunes which are fun to walk or run down, but much less fun to climb back up!

 

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There were a few other folk on the beach, but with miles of beach to share, they weren’t very noticeable!

 

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The patterns on the damp sand vary hugely every time I go down. Today they were fine, flat, angular wrinkles, but sometimes there are deep, curved ridges.

 

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What a peaceful place for a late afternoon stroll.

 

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One of the reasons that Woolacombe is not busier is that much of the length of the beach is protected from development by this high ridge, with just a dead end road along it providing access and parking.

 

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The sun started to descend right over the low outline of Lundy.

 

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A cloud bank on the horizon hid the moment that the sun finally set, but it was still a glorious sight.

 

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As we left the beach, there were only a couple of folk still enjoying the solitude.

 

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A bit of August Weather

We are having a spot of interesting weather, and it has made all the grockles (holidaymakers) disappear like magic.

 

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Normally, this end of Woolacombe Beach  on a Saturday afternoon is a seething mass of humanity. Today, just a few hardy folk walking their dogs.

 

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It was very pleasant and peaceful, but less good for swimming…red flags, killer surf, nasty currents, you get the picture.

 

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We were looking forward to seeing the sand castle this guy was building, until we realised he was helping make a protective sand bank in front of the beach huts before tonight’s very high tide. Maybe he will put little crenelations along his protective wall!!

Gotta love August weather…

 

 

Cooling down on a scorching hot day

Finally we have some proper summer weather, with blue skies and temperatures in the mid twenties. We have had sunny days earlier this summer, but there has been cooling winds. We have had hot spells, but usually only for an hour or so. Today was properly hot.

We sent the morning removing all the boxes from the garage, which had been thrust in willy-nilly on moving day, and putting them back in an organised fashion. Hot work, only made possible as it was in the shade of the house. So by mid afternoon, I was melting, and snuck away for a couple of hours on the beach.

 

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The car park behind Woolacombe beach is only ten minutes by car from our house, and by driving to the far end one can take a path down through the dunes to the quiet centre of the beach, far away from the crowds at the Woolacombe end.

 

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It is also a long way to the less busy but still popular far end called Putsborough Beach.

 

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I did have to share the beach with one or two others, but it was still pretty fabulous for July. The tide was nearly in, and the water was really warm having come up over the roasting sands. Ok, maybe not actually warm, but I walked straight in, and only gasped a couple of times as the waves splashed my hot skin.

 

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Normally a fabulous surfing beach, there were only a few waves today, and it was quite calm, making it excellent for swimming. I spent ages in the water, and didn’t get chilled at all. I do love to swim in the sea, but I also love to bodyboard, so whatever the sea state, I am always happy!

 

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Returning to my towel, I roasted gently in the sun for a while to dry off. Bliss! Can you spot my towel in between all the other people on the beach…?

 

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Quite a nice view to admire…

 

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Sadly I had to drag myself away after a couple of hours, but I shall be back soon. Preferably with some company next time – who fancies a day on the beach?

 

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Beach views

The sun is shining, the countryside is green and lush, and we have been showing friends around our little corner of Devon. The jewel in the crown of this area is the beautiful sandy beaches, but the best views of the beaches come from high up on the cliffs, not down on the beaches themselves, so we headed to the National Trust headland of Baggy Point. The walk to the point is one I have written about before, here, but this time we continued on around the headland and made it a circular walk.

The hedgerows and verges are getting more colourful every week, and I loved this stretch with the pink Red Campion flowers and the fuchsia pink spikes of Gladiolus byzantinus.

 

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Once we rounded the headland the long stretch of Woolacombe beach appeared in the distance.

 

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The paths were easy underfoot, with gradual gradients for the most part, passing through rolling green pastures. This was the view behind us.

 

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As we approached the end of the beach, named Putsborough Sands, the views became stunning!

 

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As you can see, it gets busy at half term…..To be fair, it was mid morning, and the beaches always fill up more during the afternoon, but the beach is so vast that there is always a quiet area in the centre, as the main access points are at the ends.

 

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After a drink and an ice cream in the café by the beach, we meandered back over the headland and returned to the car park via a network of sheltered lanes and pathways.

It was a very enjoyable morning walk, with the best views we have had yet of the best beach in the country.

 

 

Happy Easter from Devon!

Today has been a typical Spring day of sunshine and showers. Ok, so the showers were hail, but the wind was from the South, and it wasn’t too cold. This morning I treated myself to a ride on the beach on my latest riding school horse, Bernadette, AKA Bernie, who is a 16hh ish coloured cob, all hair and mud stains, but with a heart of gold. There were eight of us on the ride, and we all had a fab time with several really fast gallops along the beach. Shame about the hail stinging on our faces!!

This afternoon we gardened in between the showers. The shed is now finished, and looking very smart.

 

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We also finished digging out the Rosa rugosa roots, and raked over the big bare patch. Now to wait for it to regrow from all the bits of broken root…

The garden is still full of daffodils and other Spring bulbs

 

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The woodland path is just stunning, and I really need to plant some colour for later in the year, as it is going to look quite plain once these are gone. I have relocated our new birdbath to the front of our main flowerbed, and it looks great there. The robins have been bathing regularly. They seem to like to bathe in the nesting season, possibly to help control the parasites that can be a problem in their nests.

 

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We have a very special flower coming up in the front lawn

 

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See all the little nodding purple flowers? They are snake’s head fritillaries, and the lawn is covered with them.

 

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They come in a white form too, but I like the purple, with it’s fancy chequerboard pattern. Along with the blue anemones, the daffs and the hundreds of primroses, the front is quite a picture!

 

 

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Come for a walk at Braunton Burrows

Braunton Burrows is a large area of undulating dunes behind Saunton Sands beach. It is a mile wide by several miles long, and is criss-crossed by a network of paths and tracks. We park at the aptly-named Sandy Lane car park, and the main track sets off broad and straight, to cope with the large number of summer visitors.

 

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But soon it starts to split, with paths heading off in several directions, and the other couples and families we can see ahead and behind us all peel off, leaving us to enjoy the Burrows in peace.

This is the first ridge of high dunes, still quite some distance from the sea. At some point in the past, the wind has eroded the top of the dune enough to expose the sand, and over time the sand has blown inland in a massive swathe. The notice boards tell us that this is encouraged, as it prevents the central part of the Burrows from becoming too overgrown, and creates more varied habitats for the vast array of plants and insects which live here.

 

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In the valleys between the ridges of high dunes the ground dips below the water table, creating shallow pools. These are apparently fantastic for dragonflies in summer, so I look forward to seeing  that.

 

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From the top of the next dune ridge, we get our first glimpse of the sea in the distance.

 

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In the next valley, a large pond complex. It will be really interesting to come here through the seasons and see what we see. There is also a lovely view of our favourite little island, Lundy.

 

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Finally we wend our way through the last ridge of dunes, and down onto the beach. Now where is my costume…

 

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It is low tide, so there is quite a lot of beach…

 

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The wind has blown the sand up against all the little protrusions from the flat beach, making interesting shapes round these shells.

 

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This plank of well-rounded driftwood is irresistible, as it will make a great house name or garden sign-post, once it has dried out and been cleaned up a bit. Lets carry it home!

 

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Soon it is time to head back inland and try and find our way back to the car.

 

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The wind blows the sand on the tops of the dunes into fascinating shapes.

 

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This central part of the Burrows is used for military manoeuvres – looks like the boys (and girls) have fun with their toys!

 

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Looks like we are heading in the right direction – this is the seaward side of that blown-out dune ridge.

 

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Last stretch of path through the sand before we reach the more mature, flatter land below, then soon we will be back at Sandy Lane.  Then it’s home for lunch!

 

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I hope you enjoyed the walk.

 

A need for sea air

I have just spent a pleasant week ‘back home’, visiting relatives and friends. Nice as it was, I breathed a huge sigh of contentment when I passed the Devon county boundary on the way home. In just a few weeks I have become very accustomed to the quieter way of life here. Today I felt a need to go to the coast, to breathe in the salty air and to hear the sound of the waves. To reassure myself that it is still there, I suppose, and to fill my senses.

 

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So I took a detour on the way to the supermarket, and went for a stroll on my favourite beach. This is Barricane Beach, just to the North of the huge long stretch of Woolacombe Sands. In contrast to its giant neigbour, it is a narrow sliver of a beach, and it is not even sandy…

 

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It is almost entirely made of crushed shells. Here on the high tide line, you can see the larger, mostly complete shells that accumulate , but the smaller particles are also shells, just finely crushed. For some reason, the current just happens to wash them all up into this little cove.

 

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The rocks here are sculpted by the waves into fantastic shapes, and there are many large and small rockpools to explore.

 

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The tide was quite low this afternoon, so I was able to walk round the end of the rocks onto the vast expanse of sands in the next bay.

 

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As I strolled around the beach, the tide rose just enough to seal off Barricane Bay…well, almost.

 

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This little chasm leads back to the top of the beach, and is just wide enough to walk through. Good job I had wellies on.

 

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It may have been a bit grey today, not very warm, and with a bite to the wind, but a walk on my favourite beach was just what I needed.

 

 

A short stroll before dinner

One of the many reasons we moved to North Devon, and the main reason we bought the property we did, is the proximity to the beautiful coastline. I love the sound of the waves and the fresh sea air, as well as the stunning views.

So after a busy day doing chores, when you feel the need to ‘get out’ and clear your head, you go for a walk, don’t you? To the park, or around the lake, or in the forest. Well, we can go to the beach.

 

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And, despite the gloomy skies, stiff breeze and spots of rain, our stroll along the sands and back through the dunes was just lovely. There was the odd hardy surfer bobbing beyond the breakers waiting for ‘the big one’. One or two families were walking their happily wagging dogs. But there was plenty of space for everyone, even at high tide. At low tide, the sea recedes almost out of sight, creating a vast playground of hard sand for riding, kite-flying, cricket games, and the most elaborate of sand creations. But today it was just a place of solitude for the locals.

 

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