Combe Martin to Clovelly
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.
- Day 1: Combe Martin to Woolacombe (14 miles)
- Day 2: Woolacombe to Braunton (15 miles)
- Day 3: Braunton to Instow (11 miles)
- Day 4: Instow to Westward Ho! (13 miles)
- Day 5: Westward Ho! to Clovelly (11 miles)