UM1
15 hidden North Devon beaches holiday cottages

15 hidden North Devon beaches

It's well-known that North Devon’s coast is home to beautiful beaches such as Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton - but there is also a multitude of hidden beaches and coves dotted along the gorgeous shoreline.

Showcasing striking scenery, from towering sea cliffs to broad swathes of golden sand, interspersed between the surfing beaches and holiday hotspots there are some truly beautiful gems - unbeknownst to even some of the most learned North Devonians!

Our guide reveals 15 of the beaches where you can escape the crowds and soak up the scenery in sublime serenity. Shhh, though - you can't tell anyone...

Barricane

Tucked between rocks, Barricane Beach, on the outskirts of Woolacombe, harbours exotic shells carried in by the waves from the Caribbean, thousands of miles away. Visit on a fine evening between Easter and September and you may find the café serving its legendary curry to eat on the sand.

  • Beach type: Sandy
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX34 7DB
  • Dog-friendly: Yes, but dogs must be kept on a lead from April 30th to September 30th
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: Restricted parking along Mortehoe Road. More parking along The Esplanade and two paid car parks in Woolacombe (5-minute walk)
  • Accessed via: The grass headland along Mortehoe Road

Tunnels

The private beaches in Ilfracombe were hand-carved in the 1820s, meaning they're nearly 200-years-old! The four tunnels leading to the beaches provide a unique experience, while weddings and parties can also be held here. The beaches are £2.50 to enter for adults, and are open daily from Good Friday (at the latest) until the last Sunday in October.

  • Beach type: Shingle
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX34 8AN
  • Dog-friendly: No
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: Bath Place Car Park – pay and display
  • Accessed via: Paved tunnels, suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs

Rockham

Rockham in Mortehoe, near Woolacombe, is a stunning secluded bay. Although it's a short walk from the village down to the beach, it's well worth it for the peace and serenity on offer. Make sure you check the tide times before visiting, as access is restricted at high tide.

  • Beach type: Sand and rock
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX34 7EF
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed, no restrictions
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: Mortehoe pay and display car park.
  • Accessed via: A 2km coastal walk with stunning views, and then steep steps down the cliffs to the beach

Putsborough

Probably the least "secret" of our featured beaches, but one that we feel deserves to be as well known as its neighbours Croyde and Woolacombe! Found just past Croyde, a walk along the beach will lead you to Woolacombe where you can refuel in the resort's top range of eateries.

  • Beach type: Sand
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX33 1LB
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed all year round, but selected areas have a ban in place from April 1st to October 31st
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: Paid beach car park
  • Accessed via: Two access points – sloping path or steps

Speke's Mill Mouth

Just north of the Devon/Cornwall border near Hartland lies Speke's Mill, a tranquil, rocky beach that offers the best of both worlds - a quiet spot to reflect and some of the best surfing waves in North Devon. Make sure you visit the spectacular waterfall - and take your camera!

  • Beach type: Shingle and rocks
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX39 6DU
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: Best option is Hartland Quay
  • Accessed via: 1-mile walk along the coastal footpath

Wringcliff Bay

So here's one we'd never heard of before writing this piece - a beach at the bottom of the Valley of Rocks! The beauty spot on the outskirts of Lynton and Lynmouth is well-known to most North Devonians, but the beach is something special. Take your comfy shoes, as it's a bit of a walk down.

  • Beach type: Sand and shingle
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX35 6JJ
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: The Valley of Rocks
  • Accessed via: 0.5-mile walk along the road, onto the coast path and a steep path down to the beach

Broadsands

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunrise over Broadsands Beach near Combe Martin, Devon. #combemartin #coastalphotography #sunrise #devon #visitengland #visitdevon #broadsandsbeach

A post shared by Tim Jackson (@timjackson.photography) on

Voted "Britain's Happiest View" in 2018, this gorgeous little cove near Combe Martin is one of the region's prettiest hidden gems. It's quite a walk down to the beach from the road - 200+ steps! - but it's well worth it for the peace and quiet found on the shores. If you'd rather, hire a kayak from Combe Martin and paddle your way around.

  • Beach type: Shingle
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX34 9SW
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: Drive down the narrow track, going straight on when the road bears around towards the caravan park - there are a few spaces to park in the wider section
  • Accessed via: Steep descent down 200+ steps

Bucks Mill

A gem found near Clovelly, Bucks Mill is, according to a member of Stay In staff, "possibly the most beautiful, un-spoilt beach in the world"! With a secluded cove, waterfall and serenity awaiting you at the end of a half-a-mile walk, we can't really argue with that notion!

  • Beach type: Rocky
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX39 5DY
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: Free car park
  • Accessed via: 0.4-mile downhill walk along a quiet road and a steep paved path to the beach

Lee Bay

Found in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Lee Bay is a wonderfully secluded spot near the picturesque village of Lee, between Woolacombe and Ilfracombe. Bordered on three sides by rolling Devon countryside, cliffs and hills, the bay looks out onto the Bristol Channel.

  • Beach type: Rock, shingle and sand
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX34 8LR
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: Pay and display car park
  • Accessed via: Short walk along a quiet road, and then a slope to the beach

Welcombe Mouth

Sometimes grouped together with Bude or North Cornwall's beaches, Welcombe is actually just in Devon, near Hartland - so we're definitely claiming this beauty spot as one of our own! Another serene spot which boasts a waterfall, the beach is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), due to its fascinating geological features.

  • Beach type: Rock and sand
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX39 6HL
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: Small car park at the end of a rough track
  • Accessed via: A short path

Wild Pear Beach

This little gem is found just outside of Combe Martin - but be warned, it's a designated naturist beach so you might get some birthday suits alongside swimsuits! Again, it's a steep ascent down to this beautiful spot, but it's another that's reachable via a kayak around the coast. 

  • Beach type: Sand and rock
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX34 0DJ
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: Car parks in Combe Martin
  • Accessed via: Steep 2km cliff scramble down the path behind Foc’sle Inn

Grunta

Visit at low tide, as Grunta isn't accessible when the tide's in. The sandy little cove near Woolacombe sits in front of the village of Mortehoe, and is said to be named after a ship which was carrying pigs... and crashed into the beach! The locals were woken by the sounds of grunts and squeals from the pigs.

  • Beach type: Sand
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX34 7DZ
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: Mortehoe pay and display car park
  • Accessed via: 0.4-mile walk along the road and coastal path with steps to the beach

Woody Bay

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What are you grateful for today? • • Today I am thankful for the holidays I have been lucky enough to take. Just look at this picture! This is from my holiday last summer in the UK. I’m in awe of the beauty of our small nation. You don’t have to go far to experience tranquility and serenity, just make sure you appreciate it. • • • #thankful #grateful #woodybay #devon #eachdayisablessing #lookforpositives #positive #instagram #instapic #instamotivation #instaphoto #instalandscape #thatview #views #ukcountryside #ukviews #beautiful #westcountry #instadaily #photography #summerholidays #idyllic #dailymotivation #tranquil #tranquility #greatbritain #coastline #appreciate

A post shared by @ clipsofreality on

A fantastic beach for wild swimming, Woody Bay, near Lynton and Lynmouth, sits at the bottom of striking cliffs covered in woodland. Found on the Exmoor coast, there's a manmade rockpool here, accessible at low tide, while it's also adjacent to the South West Coast Path, so you can visit while winding your way around the coast.

  • Beach type: Rock and shingle
  • Put in your Sat Nav: EX31 4QX
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Lifeguarded: No
  • Nearest parking: Small car park next to the road, high above the beach
  • Accessed via: A winding path through woods

Crow Point