Tracking from sand dunes to cliffs

Distance: 64 miles over 5 days. Difficulty: Moderate

This route takes in the entire North Devon coast, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with an UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve at its heart around Braunton Burrows. From the Victorian splendour of Combe Martin and Ilfracombe, the Coast Path continues past the popular surfing beaches of Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton with miles of golden sand between them. It then follows a disused railway line through Barnstaple and Instow before a more strenuous climb to the cliffs of Clovelly.


The north Devon coast is characterised by high cliffs and deep ‘combes’, which in Devon are wooded valleys and this stretch has a handful of them, including Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe to name but a few. Many of these towns are popular holiday spots today with magnificent beaches.

This stretch of Coast Path follows the route of the Tarka Trail, a recreational route so-called as it takes in the coastal landscapes that inspired children’s author Henry Williamson to create Tarka the Otter. A memorial stone celebrates his work on the Coast Path past Baggy Point.

It leads on to the heart of the UNESCO Biosphere reserve at Braunton Burrows, which is teeming with wildlife, including rare birds and butterflies. Following a disused railway line, you then cross two river estuaries with the Taw at Barnstaple and the Torridge past Instow.

A more strenuous section from Westward Ho! to the traditional fishing port at Clovelly takes in more literary links with the former town named after a Charles Kingsley novel and the latter, the inspiration for his children’s classic The Water Babies.

Suggested Itinerary


Relevant section guides

We have split the path into 52 sections, and for each one have produced a section guide. These pages do not aim to replace the guidebooks, but aim to give a flavour of what each section is like, and show you about the highlights and places of interest along the route, along with links to accommodation information and much more. The relevant section guides for this walk are exactly the same as the 5 days of this walk.


To reach the start of the walk at Combe Martin, catch a train to Barnstaple (along the picturesque Tarka line from Exeter). From Barnstaple the First North Devon bus number 3 runs regularly between Barnstaple and Combe Martin, stopping in Ilfracombe and Braunton.

Returning from Clovelly, there is a regular bus service (319) that will take you back to Barnstaple where you can ctach a train.

For details visit Traveline or phone 0870 6082608.