Dog sitting on Woolacombe dunes with sunset over the sea

SPRING & SUMMER

Live your best coastal life

Spring and summer in gorgeous North Devon bring with them longer sun-speckled days, fresh sea breezes, and blooming clifftops. Come when the climate is kind, the atmosphere vibrant, and the sunsets golden. Enjoy laidback breakfasts in your beachside home. Dine alfresco on your balcony or patio. Take a dip in the Mini Lido and head out to explore secret coves, discovering the simple pleasure of living by the coast.

This is your guide to all the best things to see, do, and experience in North Devon during spring and summer...

 

SECRET COVES

 

For sandy days...

North Devon is famed for its beautiful beaches, but in the heights of spring and summer, are these sandy-stretches and breathtaking bays really the empty paradise they look to be? Some definitely are! You just need some explorer spirit and a little local knowledge to find those lesser-known shores. For every one of our famous expanses, there's a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

 

These are off the beaten track so you may need to hike a little, and packing your own picnic is probably best as these don’t all have cafes, but these quieter spots are worth the extra effort. 

 

Typically not lifeguarded, these secret coves in North Devon are best for older children and strong swimmers. For a more family-friendly beach day with refreshments and facilities, our favourite family-friendly beaches near Woolacombe are Croyde (best for rock pooling), Putsborough Sands (less crowded), and Saunton Sands (loved by little surfers).

Barricane Beach

WOOLACOMBE

From Woolacombe beach simply head north along the Esplanade and the cove is on the left after 300 metres. Small but perfectly formed.

Rockham Bay

MORTE HOE

Take the coast path from Woolacombe or the footpath via Mortehoe, signposted Rockham Bay. There are steep steps down to the sands, but it’s worth the work!

Lee Bay

ILFRACOMBE

Lee village is 3 miles west of Ilfracombe. At low tide follow the causeway across rocks 300 metres via carved steps to a second cove on the left. 

 

BUGGY-FRIENDLY & ACCESSIBLE WALKING ROUTES

Accessible doesn’t mean any less adventurous...

When the sun is out, there’s nothing better than going off for a jaunt, kids in tow. But what if your little people are buggy bound? Our answer: don’t let this stop you! 

 

North Devon is famous for its incredible landscapes – from its stunning coast to its hidden woodlands – and there’s no denying it: spring and summer are the most popular times to visit Woolacombe, but it’s easy to step away from the busier touristy areas and go off-road, even with a buggy on board.

Take the Baggy Point route below, the spectacular views are among the most dramatic you’ll find, and your mini explorers will love the whale bones and old wreck post. Pause for a moment in the ancient fields on top of the headland and you’ll see they are encrusted with lichen. In spring and summer this pretty route is carpeted with pink thrift and white sea campion; visit a little later in the year to see the migrant birds gathering – go quietly and you might spot peregrines, merlins or even the odd haen harrier.

 

Northam Burrows Country Park, a short drive away in Bideford, is perfect for a shorter trail – great if you want to intersperse walking with buggy time. This is one for the adventure lovers! It is a site of special scientific interest with a range of habitats including sand dunes, salt marsh, grassland and rocky shores.

 

For both a full day out or just a short stroll, there’s the Tarka Trail. Entirely traffic-free, this surfaced route can be enjoyed in sections to suit you. Famed by Henry Williamson’s “Tarka the Otter” there is wildlife and views in abundance. Take the Barnstaple to Bideford section and you can veer off slightly to Instow’s sandy beach or, south of Bideford, you pass along causeways, through cuttings and tunnels and across bridges.  If you are very lucky you may spot an otter or the turquoise flash of a kingfisher.

Baggy Point

2-3 MILES

This path has been levelled and compacted, but it is strenuous at points. A shorter extra-accessible route is available. Either way, there are views for all!

Northam Burrows

1 MILE

Alive with wildlife, this short stroll juts out into the estuary. There’s a visitor centre (May to Sep) with refreshments, toilets, family activities & events.

Tarka Trail

UP TO....32 MILES!

Entirely traffic-free, this surfaced route can be enjoyed in sections to suit you. Make a day of it to discover sandy beaches and wooded countryside. 

 

CYCLE ROUTES

Feel the wind in your hair...

WOOLACOMBE

We recommend bringing your own bikes, skateboards and kites when you come and stay in the Beach Retreats self-catering accommodation in Woolacombe. We have amazing trails and tracks! From ‘lovely and level’ to ‘wild and wicked’ there are so many ‘wheely great’ routes to be explored.

 

If you are visiting us with a young family, or even packing your pup for a stay in our dog-friendly accommodation, the joys of feeling the wind in your hair should not be underestimated. We’ve handpicked a selection of routes – perfect whether you are celebrating those first wobbly forays with little ones or looking for a taste of freedom and off-road adventure.

Tarka Trail cycle route in Devon

Tarka Trail

32 MILE CYCLE TRAIL

Flat and family-friendly, you can do as much of this trail as you like. Taking you through beautiful countryside, there are plenty of picnic spots.

Baggy Point

8 MILE ROUND TRIP

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 8 miles
Start: Woolacombe, SS 458,438
Simply reverse this route:

Coastal Loop

22 MILE ROUND-TRIP

Difficulty: Difficult
Distance: 22.1 miles
Start: Esplanade Car Park, Woolacombe

 

DAYS OUT & PLACES TO VISIT

For rainy days & bucket lists

Great for when the younger ones get restless or for when it just isn’t a beach day, we've put together a collection of the best places to visit when you stay with us here in Woolacombe. 

 

If you’re looking for the best family-friendly places to visit in North Devon, you can’t go far wrong with Borough Farm, Watermouth Castle, or the Big Sheep. These fun days out will satisfy everybody from the animal crackers to the adventurers. 

 

If you’re more of a bucket list adventurer, on the other hand, there are no shortage of magical and unique destinations. We recommend The Valley of Rocks (Exmoor) for truly Insta-worthy scenery, Lundy Island for a full-day’s adventure on the sea, and Clovelly for a special afternoon pottering around the quaint winding streets.

Borough Farm, Woolacombe

Borough Farm

FALCONRY DISPLAYS

Just a short detour from Woolacombe, the standout features are outdoor falconry and working sheepdog displays. Evening shows available. 

Watermouth Castle

A RETRO DAY OUT

Solve the labyrinth, enjoy the adventure playground, play on the retro 2p slot machines, and discover a raft of fun (and slightly random!) things to do.

The Big Sheep

The Big Sheep

ALL-WEATHER FUN

What’s the best thing about The Big Sheep? The animals of course! Which is great news, as they’ve got hundreds of them waiting to meet you.

Valley Of The Rocks, Lynton & Lynmouth

Valley Of The Rocks

VISIT THE WILD COAST

Near Lynmouth, a popular destination in its own right, The Valley of Rocks is arguably the most spectacularly scenic location on Exmoor.

Visit Clovelly Village

Clovelly Village

DISCOVER A DIFFERENT WORLD

Once owned by the Queen of England, this pretty village has no vehicular access and clings to a 400ft cliff - donkeys & sledges bring the deliveries...

Puffins on Lundy Island

Lundy Island

PUFFIN & SEAL SPOTTING

Lundy Island lies 15 miles off the coast. Leaving by boat, this is a full day’s adventure. The best months to spot puffins are April – July.