10 beautiful places to visit in North Devon

I've just returned from a lovely week away in North Devon and thought it would be fun to share some of my favourite spots to visit, along with some of my photographs. I'm lucky to now have both my sister and my dad living in Devon, so I've got to know the area reasonably well over the years. My top 10 is as follows (in no particular order, apart from the first two) - read on for more info:

  1. Westward Ho!

  2. Saunton Sands

  3. Putsborough Beach (Woolacombe)

  4. Hartland and Welcombe Mouth

  5. Sandymouth and Northcott Mouth

  6. Watersmeet

  7. Donna Flower's Vintage Shop in Barnstaple

  8. Appledore

  9. Clovelly

  10. RHS Rosemoor Garden

10 beautiful places to visit in North Devon

1. Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! (with it's jolly exclamation mark - the only town in the UK to have one) has become my new favourite beach in Devon. When the tide is out there are huge stretches of sand and so much S P A C E. There is often a thin film of water on the sand which provides some beautiful reflections of the clouds, making the space look even bigger. There are beautiful sand dunes (Northam Burrows) and beautiful giant pebbles (originating from Hartland I believe and smoothed and tumbled by the sea to end up here). It's a popular beach with surfers and dog walkers. I recommend parking at Northam Burrows for access to the best bit of the beach. It cost us £3.50 for the day in June (you can also get weekly and seasonal passes).

It's one of those places that looks so different every time you visit, depending on the tide and the weather - it's quite literally a reflection of the world around us. Even on the evening we visited (after a scorcher of a day with a cloudless sky) the view kept shifting and changing with the clouds and the light - and what magical light it was!

We had so much fun strolling up and down the beach, splashing in the waves and just drinking it all in. So many people were out and about enjoying the perfect evening, cooling off after a hot day. I loved the soft sinking sand that left deep footprints as you walked - I turn into a big kid on the beach!

On another visit, we spent some time nestling in the dunes, sheltering from the wind. And pebble hunting, of course! The pebbles here have beautiful white rings and lines. There is nothing more joyful than holding smooth warm pebbles in your hands with the sun on your face and the sand in your feet. Oh yes, it's most definitely the simple things in life for me!

Pebbles from Westward Ho! and Sandymouth beach

Pebbles from Westward Ho! and Sandymouth beach

And finally, I must just mention the beach huts. You can find a small row of pretty pastel huts at the end of the beach where all the shops and restaurants are. They never fail to make me smile!

2. Saunton Sands

Next on the list has to be Saunton Sands. It held the no.1 spot in my heart for many years and has only just been pipped at the post by Westward Ho! It's just round the corner really from Westward Ho! (although it's about a 40 minute drive as you have to go round the estuary) and shares many similarities. There's always huge stretches of sand to be found, even at high tide. I just love the S P A C E (bit of a theme?!) and the energy this beach has - there are always surfers to be found and lots of dog walkers and families and people generally having fun. There are some cafes, a posh hotel, surf board hire/lessons and deckchairs/beach huts to hire for the day. And parking will set you back £6.50 - at least it did in June 2015!

Saunton Sands is also great for reflections as it usually has a thin film of water covering a large stretch of sand - just add some clouds - and voila! These photos are from a visit several years ago. When we visited this time it was a scorching hot day with no clouds so it wasn't very photogenic - and we were so hot we actually had to leave!! Unheard of in Britain!

The sand dunes (Braunton Burrows) are beautiful too - and vast! You could walk for hours - in fact we once did, as my sister took us on a "short cut" to the beach that had us getting lost for hours (the best kind of fun)...... You can find lots more photos in my Saunton Sands album on Flickr.

3. Putsborough BEach (Woolacombe)

Putsborough beach is round the corner again from Saunton Sands, just past Croyde - Woolacombe is the opposite end. It's another lovely big stretch of sand with some interesting rocks and a cafe I like to hole up in when the weather is colder. Also popular with surfers. There are lots of facilities at the Woolacombe end (which gets very busy).

4. Hartland and Welcombe Mouth

Hartland is wild and rugged. Huge jagged rocks that you can imagine ships smashing into in times gone past. I don't actually have any photos of Hartland itself to share here -  every time we've visited it's been very grey and stormy. I absolutely love it, though. It's quite a long drive down narrow roads and you really feel "away from it all". There are some lovely walks you can do in this area. We did the circular walk from Hartland Quay to Spekes Mill waterfall and Docton Mill Gardens and back - lots of rugged coastline and pretty leafy green lanes. The heavens opened and we got soaked on the way round, but I still loved it. I will take wild and peaceful over hot, busy and crowded any day! You can find out more info at

The beautiful Hartland Abbey and Gardens is also worth a visit - I've enjoyed bluebell walks in the spring and remember lots of colourful camellias, rhododendrons, and magnolias everywhere.

I do have some photos of Welcome Mouth, however. It is a beautiful beach really tucked away down super narrow country lanes (the kind you breathe in as you drive through!), a bit of a drive from Hartland Quay. As it is so hard to get to, and there are no facilities, it is usually very quiet. We came here on a landscape photography course several years back and had fun playing around with long exposures as the tide came in. The rocks here are similar to Hartland and remind me of backbones.


5. Sandymouth and Northcott Mouth

OK, so Sandymouth isn't in Devon, so I'm stretching things a little. But it is just over the border in North Cornwall (just North of Bude) and SO worth a visit if you are in the area. It has a very special place in my heart. Sandymouth is in the care of the National Trust who run the car park and a rather lovely cafe. The beach has large stretches of beautiful sand when the tide is out, and beautiful pebbles, similar to those you will find at Westward Ho! (spotting a pattern here?!). The cliffs are stunning and the rocks fascinating. You will find lots of similarities to the Hartland Peninsula, which isn't far away. It's also hugely popular with surfers (there is seasonal lifeguard cover) and dog walkers (you can walk dogs year round). It offers huge variety in terms of landscape and I love how different it always looks on the many visits I have made here.

This is the view from the outside seating area at Sandymouth cafe, looking down on the beach - not a bad spot for lunch!

This is the view from the outside seating area at Sandymouth cafe, looking down on the beach - not a bad spot for lunch!

The backbone type rocks at Sandymouth were covered in green seaweed this visit - looking very colourful!

The backbone type rocks at Sandymouth were covered in green seaweed this visit - looking very colourful!

Fun with pebbles at Sandymouth beach

Fun with pebbles at Sandymouth beach

This visit, we did the short (1 mile-ish) cliff path walk to Northcott Mouth and back. It's a beautiful walk with lovely coastal views, as well as views inland over patchwork fields. Northcott Mouth is another lovely beach, smaller than Sandymouth. There is also a tea garden there, filled with gnomes and all manner of garden statues :)

Northcott Mouth beach

Northcott Mouth beach

6. Watersmeet

Watersmeet is a beautiful woodland area in Lynmouth with lots of lovely walks alongside rivers and streams and waterfalls. It is the meeting place of the East Lyn river and Hoar Oak Water. It is in the care of the National Trust, who run a perfectly situated cafe right by the water. I love coming here for a good dose of green and peace and quiet and always come back feeling refreshed and restored. The walk from Lynmouth is particularly lovely. There are lots of other things to do in nearby Lynton and Lynmouth too - see for more information.

The National Trust cafe at Watersmeet

The National Trust cafe at Watersmeet

Watersmeet is another great spot for long exposure photography - bring your tripod (there's not much light under the canopy of trees) - and your wellies!

Watersmeet is another great spot for long exposure photography - bring your tripod (there's not much light under the canopy of trees) - and your wellies!

7. Donna Flower's Vintage Shop in Barnstaple

Whilst I adore being outdoors, it's always wise to have some indoor things planned for wet weather, because, let's face it, it's going to rain at some point ;)

If you like vintage clothes, fabrics and other paraphernalia then you will LOVE Donna Flower's vintage shop in Barnstaple. It's packed full of beautifully curated collections of good quality vintage clothing and accessories and hard to find vintage fabrics and sewing paraphernalia. Everything is displayed so beautifully and the ever changing window displays are pretty special. Donna has sourced lots of beautiful wooden display cabinets and drawers, all very swoon-worthy. She runs the shop with her daughter, Jasmine. You really must pay a visit!

8. Appledore

Appledore is a small fishing village near Westward Ho! and Bideford, across the water from Instow. You will find lots of narrow cobbled streets lined with bunting and pretty pastel houses with beautiful flowers everywhere. There are a few cafes and art galleries and antique shops to nosey around. You can also go on boat trips from the quay and enjoy many other watersports. The attraction for me, of course, was the pretty pastel houses - I do love strolling around quaint streets marvelling at people's pretty houses and gardens!

9. Clovelly

Clovelly is a private village, with steep cobbled streets leading down to a harbour. There are no cars and you have to pay an admission fee to enter, to help towards the upkeep of the historical buildings. It's very pretty - I loved photographing all the doors and flowers. There are some beautiful gardens and lovely walks and boat trips and donkey rides, if that is your thing!

10. RHS Rosemoor

I couldn't complete this list without mentioning at least one garden! As you will probably have gathered, I adore the coast, so my trips usually focus around visiting as many beaches as possible. I do love a good garden, though, and Rosemoor doesn't disappoint. It is one of four RHS gardens and is pretty sizeable, with many gardens within the garden. There is also  a large woodland area which is good for walks. It's been a while since I've visited, though, so the RHS Rosemoor website will be able to give you a much better overview of current highlights.

Other gardens I've enjoyed visiting include Broomhill Sculpture Gardens, Marwood Hill Gardens, and the previously mentioned Docton Mill and Gardens and Hartland Abbey and Gardens.

So that's it - my favourite places to visit in North Devon. Next on the list is Lundy island. What are your favourite places to visit in North Devon? I'd love to hear your recommendations, especially those off the beaten track.

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10 beautiful places to visit in North Devon

Exploring East & South Devon

A few weeks ago we made it our mission to get to know East and South Devon. Although we have been to Devon lots of times before, most of it has been spent in the North. So this time we based ourselves in Sidmouth and set out to explore...

Day one

saw a visit to Dawlish and Dawlish Warren (photos above and below). It was a glorious sunny Sunday, so the beach was pretty packed. We headed inland a little to explore the nature reserve and found lots of peace and quiet and so many beautiful things to feast our eyes upon, including a heron and lots of Evening Primroses and other pretty flowers and sea grasses - I just love the sand dunes. There were some very colourful beach huts too :)

We also wandered along the coast for a while, following the rail track, which runs right next to the sea. It was washed away in the storms earlier this year and only reopened in April. Quite an extraordinary sight!

Day two

saw us heading South, to the beautiful Slapton, where the lush green countryside literally meets the sea. We had a very interesting journey - a "sat nav special" which took us down the narrowest, windiest lanes you can imagine! There was lots of holding of breath - but we did get to see some absolutely beautiful countryside :) The shingle beach is pretty special and the waves were crystal clear - a perfect spot for our picnic. We saw quite a few people fishing from the beach too, and met some friendly dogs - always a bonus :)

From Slapton we drove a very scenic (and less hairy!) route through pretty Kingsbridge, passing so many beautiful thatched cottages, on to Hope Cove and then Bigbury. Thoroughly lovely! And helped by the fact it was a beautiful summer's day :)

Day three was spent in the most delectable Beer and Lyme Regis - and has a blog post of its very own, as I took so many pictures :)

Day four (are you exhausted yet? I told you we packed it in!!) saw us exploring Totnes and then on to the beautiful space and greenery of Dartmoor. We spent some time in the fabulous sauna that is the Buckfastleigh butterfly and otter centre. Quite magical to experience the most beautiful and iridescent butterflies flitting around you (it's a walk-through greenhouse type affair), but my goodness it's hot! I think a bikini would have been more appropriate :) Hard work too to capture those butterflies - they don't sit still for long!

Afterwards we drove a long rambling route through Dartmoor, stopping whenever we felt like it. I've never seen so much diversity or space. I definitely got my green fix that day!

Day five

saw us exploring Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth and Honiton. The glorious weather had finally broken, so we experienced Budleigh Salterton under grey stormy skies. It was soooo beautiful nonetheless! I fell in love with the pebbles :) It felt a bit wild (maybe that was the weather) and I just loved the weathered beach huts and flowers growing on the beach. There were some very interesting antique/vintage shops in the little town too, but sadly no time to explore them - I'll just have to go back! We just made it to our car before the heavens opened, so I only have piccies of Budleigh Salterton I'm afraid.

Day six, our last day, was spent in Exeter. It's a fantastic city, very green and clean - but no pictures as I didn't take my camera (thank god I hear you cry!). Apologies for this very picture-heavy post - it was all so very photogenic, I wanted to share :) If you haven't seen enough photos (!) you can see the complete set on Flickr :)

Beer & Lyme: the perfect summer combo

No, not Mexico, but our very own Devon and Dorset. And yes, there really is a place called Beer!

A couple of weeks ago, I fell head over heels in love with a beautiful little place called Beer in East Devon. I hadn't seen many photos beforehand, or heard much about it, so I came with no expectations. I just wanted to enjoy the sea and sunshine on a beautiful summer's day.

Oh my goodness, this place really couldn't be any more perfect for me! Beautiful smooth pebbles? Check! Clear sparkling sea and blue skies? Check! Pretty wooden beach huts? Check! Stripey deckchairs? Check! Stunning white cliffs? Check! Flowers on the beach? Check! Pretty thatched cottages? Check! An absolute photographer's paradise :)

It was just magical, sitting on the pebbles listening to the waves lapping, with the sun on my face and an ice cream in hand. What summers are made for! I would have loved to have spent the day in a deck chair with my kindle....but we had another place to visit, so I'll look forward to that another time!

A short trip in the car and we arrived at the very beautiful Lyme Regis. My last visit had been in the pouring rain, so a very grumpy Zoë hadn't thought very much of it - I didn't even get to see the seafront! I'm pleased to report this visit was entirely different, helped, I\m sure, by the glorious sunshine.

Lyme is another absolutely stunning place and is also part of the Jurassic Coast. The beach and cliffs are rather spectacular and the town is just so well cared for - we saw beautiful flowers everywhere.

I loved the ammonite shaped lamp posts. And the pretty pastel beach huts - every beach should have them! I even managed to get a sneaky peek inside one :)

There are some lovely shops to potter around too. I enjoyed a good rummage around an antiques store on the seafront and am delighted I finally got to visit the lovely Ruby Rockcake's shop. I will definitely be back!

More of our Devon adventures coming soon.....

A lovely long weekend in Devon

It's been a while since my last trip to the sea - too long. There's something very special about watching the waves crash and roll, over and over. It's very humbling. Reminds me how small we are and how the world will go on without us. A marvellous way of putting your troubles in perspective. And I love a good dose of fresh sea air, even if it is ****** freezing! So, when my lovely sister asked me what we wanted to do, the answer was the same every day - go to the sea!

Braunton Burrows
Look what I found!
We found the sea!

So we visited Westward Ho! with its very jolly exclamation mark and lovely pebbles and shells, then my absolute favourite, Saunton Sands, via a rather longer than expected trek through Braunton Burrows (i.e. we got lost!), and finally topped it all off with a trip to the glorious Putsborough beach. All very worth a visit. And very cold. And mostly grey - until the last afternoon, when the sun pushed its way out from behind a bank of cloud and we bathed ourselves in gentle spring sunshine. On the beach. Oh yes!

Kissing shells :)
Treasures from the sea

Oh and my sister has a new puppy - the cutest little thing you ever saw - he's called Max and is just 12 weeks old. Can you spot him below?

Watercolour Westwood Ho!
Is that a Puppy in your coat?
Sea, sky, space: tonic for the soul

Time for a sea fix

Well, I've made it through January and most of February and now I'm in desperate need of a sea fix. So I'll be taking a short break from the blog whilst I go in search of sea and - finger's crossed - maybe a little sunshine to recharge my batteries. I'll leave you with a couple of shots of the delectable Saunton Sands in Devon on a bright sunny day in March 2011. For more, do have a peruse through my Seascapes Set on Flickr. See you soon!

Where I'd like to be right now...

A lovely family week in Devon

I had a really lovely week back in June, in Devon, to celebrate my Dad's 70th birthday. My sister was our very kind host, and we got up to all kinds of adventures, despite the, ahem, rather changeable weather.

When the sun came out to play (or least the rain held back) we dashed out to the glorious Saunton Sands - one of my favourite ever beaches - miles and miles of sand and space. It didn't disappoint and provided some fine reflections of the sky, making it seem even bigger, and us even smaller.

Some photo highlights are below and the rest are on Flickr, as always.

Mr B on Saunton Sands
Walking in the sky

Another day of sunshine saw a trip to the stunning Rosemoor RHS gardens. Summer is the perfect time to visit - everything was blooming and it was so pretty and colourful :)

Family portrait
Dad and Jane at Rosemoor
Daisy, daisy
Sunshine yellow
Pink summer

On a day of rain and dreariness we defiantly went out for a walk anyway! I can highly recommend the beautiful stroll from Lynmouth to Watersmeet, along the river, through lots of leafy greenness and beautiful waterfalls. Plus, the bonus ending is the National Trust Cafe in a picture perfect spot. Tea and cake? Don't mind if I do!

Beautiful walk from Lynmouth to Watersmeet
National Trust Cafe at Watersmeet

Let's not pretend there wasn't any rain. There was. Rather a lot. So my sister and I got up to lots of crafty activities. We hunted out some pretty fabrics and bargain finds in the Barnstaple charity shops (there are lots!) and set to work making Blythe t-shirts, skirts and hair bands, and doing lots of photography. We had so much fun. Thank you Jane!

A rather soggy but very lovely July week in Cornwall and Devon

It rained and it rained! But the sun did come out a *little* bit and then we rushed out with our cameras! We stayed in a super lovely holiday cottage near Marhamchurch, Bude. We were out in the countryside surrounded by sheep! But only a few minutes drive from the coast - perfect location! It was so peaceful and relaxing. And we had the most amazing huge copper bath in our bedroom, which we made good use of!

iPhone montage of our Cornwall holiday

We had some lovely beaches nearby, including Summerleaze and Crooklets. Summerleaze had lots of really pretty pastel beach huts and an outdoor pool, filled by the tide. Widemouth was really close too, and a great spot for surfing.

Beach huts
Beach hut blues
No. 45
Beach huts
Summer breeze

I think my favourite day was a trip down a very scary, narrow, windy lane/dirt track to get to an amazing rocky beach to play with my Lee Big Stopper. For once we got the timing just right and arrived as the tide was coming in. These shots were all taken on a tripod with a Lee 0.6 ND grad filter, plus the Lee Big Stopper, which allowed me to slow the exposure down to 30 seconds to get that lovely misty, ethereal effect as the tide washed in. It was my first time playing with the Big Stopper, so I was pretty happy with the results!

Sea whispers

Another lovely highlight of our trip was a visit to Clovelly in Devon - it is privately owned and no cars are allowed, so you have to park outside the village and pay a fee to enter. It was worth it, though, as it is so very pretty - lots of houses have decorations on their colourful doors and there are flowers everywhere. The steep cobbled windy road leads down to a pretty harbour....

More pretty geraniums
Shabby chic
Summer in a pot

More photos can be found on Flickr, as always.

A thoroughly lovely March weekend in Devon

I am very behind with my blogging - so apologies in advance for a flood of retrospectives!

So, rewind back to early March, when Al and I escaped from the February blues to get our sea fix and went to stay with my lovely sister in Devon. A fabulous long weekend ensued, kicking off with a trip to the beautiful Sandymouth Beach, just across the border in Cornwall. This is definitely one of, if not my favourite, beaches in Cornwall and Devon. It has everything you could ask for - long stretches of sandy beach (perfect for reflections of clouds), the finest round smooth pebbles, amazing cliffs and rock strata, and even a waterfall! It is popular with dog walkers, so there is always lots going on. And there is a lovely National Trust tearoom to boot too. We also got to the fabulous Saunton Sands beach, with its epic wide open space and beautiful dunes, and to Woolacombe too, for good measure. In between we ate lots of lovely food, talked crafty things and my sister taught me to knit :) I made the grand total of 2 scarves for my Blythe dolls! Oh and I may also have converted my sister to the world of Blythe - we spent lots of time plotting all the lovely things she could make for her Etsy shop. Happy times!

Here are a few photos from the trip - all the beach shots are from Sandymouth - and the mosaics were taken on my iPhone and edited in Instagram. Enjoy :)

A fine day to walk the dog
Sandymouth beach *2*
Sandymouth rocks

Getting my sea fix

I was full of the winter blues and feeling very much in need of a strong sea fix to blow away the cobwebs, so Al & I headed down to Devon in late March to see my lovely sister and her husband. We had a super lovely long weekend of catching up, lazy mornings and oodles of sea and sunshine. We were lucky enough to get to the amazing Saunton Sands, twice, as well as Woolacombe. With sunshine warming our faces we revelled in the space and crashing waves and the most beautiful reflections - the weather really was kind to us. I went into overdrive mode with my camera, shooting non-stop, and notched up 500 photos in one weekend. Really couldn't help myself! Here's a few faves - the rest are on Flickr, as always.

Sunshine and surf
Project 52 ~ Week 12 ~ Little fluffy clouds reflected
Heading into the surf
Ripples and reflections