About the Golden Coast area of North Devon
- this is the westward facing coastline of North Devon: a coast of vast sandy beaches and rocky headlands.
This coast, eroded by great seas and the prevailing westerly winds screaming in from the Atlantic in winter storms, is interspersed by the headlands of more resistant rocks at Down End, Baggy Point (NT) and Morte Point (NT). In summer, and on calmer days out of season, the beaches are popular with young families and surfers.
Saunton Sands, just under four miles long, is the southermost; backed by 2,000 acres of sand dunes some of which are over 100 feet high. The tide covers a gently shelving beach of golden sand, which at low tide is 600 yards wide. The beach is privately owned and the carparking charge pays for beach cleaning and other services including some well-maintained toilets; apart from a beach shop and quality cafe among the dunes, and the four star hotel on the hill above, there's little sign of man's influence - the long beach is bordered by the sea to the west and south, dunes to the east and rocky Down End to the north.
Beyond Down End is Croyde, a partly thatched village half a mile inland from its relatively small, sandy beach, again bordered by dunes: the beach is 600 yards across. North of Croyde is the wonderful Baggy Point, owned by the National Trust: freely accessible, Baggy provides a lovely setting for a gentle walk from the northern side of Croyde Beach, there are many seats to sit upon and gaze wistfully at the waves and distant Lundy isle.
North of Baggy is Woolacombe Sands, over two miles of golden beach, backed by sand dunes belonging to the National Trust. The southern end of Woolacombe Sands is known as Putsborough, this is a popular beach for young families, it has a stream flowing across it which can be fun to dam or divert. The central part of Woolacombe Sands is not suitable for water sports as tidal currents can be treacherous, but the northern end, at Woolacombe itself, offers extensive areas for bathers, with separately designated surfing stretches. The smaller beaches and coves around Morte Point (again National Trust) offer many different, even unusual, features well worth exploring.
All the National Trust lands on this coastline are freely accessible - please put a few coins in their collecting boxes or alternatively pay to park in their carparks at Woolacombe Warren (the sand dunes behind the beach, accessed from Woolacombe) or Croyde Bay (at the end of the road running around the northern side of Croyde Beach).