Ilfracombe to Saunton
Truly spectacularly wild and beautiful
Distance: 17 miles in 2 days. Difficulty: Moderate
This walk is part of the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a truly spectacularly wild and beautiful section of the Coast Path. It’s also one of the most diverse. Starting in the traditional Victorian seaside resort of Ilfracombe, it then becomes more rugged with some steep ascents and descents, before taking you past the popular surfing beaches of Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton with miles of golden sands between them. From Saunton, you can explore the heart of the UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve at Braunton Burrows, which is teeming with wildlife including rare birds and butterflies.
From the Victorian splendour of Ilfracombe, the Coast Path heads out of the town along the Torrs, high windswept farmland that provides fairly easy walking. All along this walk there are some fantastic views across the Bristol Channel to the Welsh coast and Lundy Island.
It becomes more strenuous around Lee Bay and the dramatic Morte Point, a spiky cluster of rocks jutting out to sea that’s been described as a dinosaur’s back among other things. It’s a gentle descent to the more modern holiday resort of Woolacombe.
This stretch takes in part of the Tarka Trail, a recreational route so-called as it includes 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 beyondpast Baggy Point.
At Croyde, you may choose to stop for lunch and admire the traditional thatch cottages of this quaint Devonshire village. Upon reaching the magnificent expanse of beach at Saunton Sands, feast your eyes upon the largest sand dune system in Europe at Braunton Burrows.
- Day 1: Ilfracombe to Woolacombe 8.5 miles
- Day 2: Woolacombe to Saunton 8.6 miles