Travel tales

Walking the coast in Croyde, Devon

Walking the coast in Croyde, Devon

The UK is surrounded by over 7700 miles of coastline, with beautiful beaches from the Scottish islands in the far north right down to the tip of Cornwall in the south. The only problem though is that the unpredictable British weather doesn’t make it the easiest to take advantage of them. I’m all for a bracing winter walk along the coast, but come summer I’d rather be in a shorts and sunglasses than kitting myself out in wellies and waterproofs every time I want a day on the beach. So when the sun does come out here, you’ve got to make the most of it. And with a sunny spell in July, a few free days and two birthdays coming up, my mum and I decided to chase the sun and escape to Croyde in Devon.

Croyde Bay, Devon, UK

Croyde Bay in the sunshine

Croyde is on the north coast of Devon, in the south-west of England. The coast here is lined with golden sand beaches and pretty coastal villages. And Croyde is your classic English seaside spot, with sandcastles and cricket on the beach, cream teas by day and drinks in the beer garden of a thatched-roofed pub at night. The village is set a short walk back from the beach, which makes up the middle section of a trio of beaches – with Saunton Sands to the south and Woolacombe Sands to the north.

The beaches here face out into the Atlantic so are great for surfing, and you can also try kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. But we stuck to dry land – it takes something a bit more tropical than Devon’s 17-degree sea temperatures to get me into the water – and explored the coast on foot. The area around Croyde is criss-crossed with footpaths and bridleways so there are plenty of walking routes. We wanted to soak up as much sun and sea air as we could so stuck to these two great coastal routes.

Country cottage in Croyde, Devon, UK

One of the picturesque cottages in Croyde village

Croyde to Saunton Sands

Water, map, sunscreen and camera packed, our first day’s walk took us south towards Saunton Sands. We started off with a steep climb along the edge of the fields above Croyde, grateful for the shade as we sweated our way upwards. At the top of the hill we emerged into the sunshine for a panoramic view across Croyde Bay from a perfectly placed bench. The path takes you across farmland at the peak of the hill where you’ll get your first glimpse of three-mile-long Saunton Sands.

Looking down on Croyde Bay, Devon, UK

The view down onto Croyde Bay from the top of the hill

Behind the beach at Saunton is one of the largest sand dune systems in the country – Braunton Burrows. The Burrows are a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve full of unique plants and wildlife. They also stood in for the coast of France when US forces were training for the Normandy landings in WWII. The bay looks uncannily similar to Omaha beach in France and apparently the gradient, size and even the type of sand are all an exact match, so it was the perfect place to practice. You can still see some of the military remains in the dunes, like concrete landing craft built for soldiers to practice disembarking.

Saunton Sands, near Croyde, Devon, UK

Looking out to sea from the Braunton Burrows sand dunes

Overlooking the bay is the Saunton Sands hotel, which has a terrace bar with uninterrupted sea views as well as a café down on the beach. So we revived ourselves with lunch and a gin and tonic there before heading onwards. Our route back to Croyde followed the Southwest Coastal Path around the headland and then crossed the road and ran along the shore. It ended up back on the beach at Croyde where we could cool our feet off in a rockpool before the walk back into the village.

This walk is just over 4 miles and takes around 1.5 hours (plus photo, lunch and gin and tonic stops). You can find a map of the route here.

Saunton Sands, near Croyde, Devon, UK

The wide expanse of Saunton Sands from the coast path

Baggy Point and Putsborough Sands

The next day we headed in the other direction, north towards Putsborough and Woolacombe Bay. After walking through the village (you can avoid the road by heading towards the beach and then cutting through the campsite) we joined the Southwest Coast Path again. In this direction the path takes you around Baggy Point, a National Trust owned rocky headland. You have to resist the temptations of the Trust’s tearoom on the way though, where the smell of freshly baked scones did its best to divert us off course. But we managed to resist and carried on along the path around the headland.

Footpath in Croyde, Devon

On the path to Baggy Point, and I try out the lookout

Moving away from Croyde, the headland gets rockier and we could see people climbing and coasteering on the cliffs below us. The path also passes what looks like a lookout post, with notches cut in so you can climb up – apparently it’s actually a ‘wreck post’, used as a simulated ship’s mast for coastguard training. As the path rounded the headland the wide expanse of Woolacombe Bay came into view. It’s another mile and a half walk along the steep cliff edge though until you get to the beach at Putsborough – another gorgeous crescent of sand that stretches four miles to the town of Woolacombe.

The southwest coastal path, Devon, UK

Following the Southwest Coast Path

One ice cream and paddling session later we climbed back up the hill towards the village of Putsborough. You can take the coast path across the fields which comes out in the National Trust car park, but we headed inland towards Croyde. The path ran along a narrow bridleway past the flower-filled gardens at Combas Farm before coming out among the thatched cottages on the edge of Croyde.

This walk is around 5.5 miles and takes around 2 hours. You can find a map of the route here.

Putsborough beach, Devon, UK

Putsborough Sands

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Walking the coast in Croyde, Devon – On the Luce

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  • Reply
    August 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    I really love that crooked roof of the cottage. I’ve never seen anything like that before! Oh and that wide expanse of the beach, it’s just amazing!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      August 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      The roof is great isn’t it? I’ve seen curved thatched roofs before but never one made with tile like that, it must’ve been so difficult to do!

  • Reply
    Daisy Fairydust
    August 13, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I love UK. These photos make me dreaming! Amazing! Thanks for your sharing… It’s incredible!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      August 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Thank you – I’m planning on posting a lot about the UK this summer and seeing more of the area I live in so there should be plenty more posts coming up.

  • Reply
    Suzanne Courtney
    August 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    There’s nothing like the UK when it’s warm and sunny – the beaches and scenery don’t get much better for long walks and heaps of fresh air 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      August 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Every time we get a spell of hot sunny weather it reminds me how much beautiful scenery we have – it’s not quite the same hidden behind a veil of drizzle!

  • Reply
    Viaggiando con Bea
    August 13, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    It’s really fantastic!! Nice pictures as well

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      August 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks Bea, it was my first trip to this part of the UK and the beaches were just amazing.

      • Viaggiando con Bea
        August 14, 2013 at 1:37 pm

        Hy Lucy, have you never been in Elba Island? I suggest you to spend a little bit of your time to see through my photos. Elba island is really a beautiful place to visit in Italy and you can really enjoy a lot swimming
        Ciaoo Bea

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      August 14, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      Thanks, I’ll have a look at your pictures, I’m hoping to go and see more of Italy next year so good to have some more ideas of where to go.

  • Reply
    August 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Love this post! My Dad was from Brighton so I enjoyed your description of a ‘classic English seaside spot’. So true! Great pics too, thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      August 14, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Brighton’s a very different beach but I still love it down there too – I used to escape down there on a sunny day when I lived in London to get my dose of the seaside!

  • Reply
    August 13, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Lucy. Nice to get a look at your bit of the world. 🙂
    Love the inclusion of the map. I always need one, and I still get lost 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      August 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks Jo, we picked up a great walking map in the place we stayed but thought I better not pinch it so created my own versions in case anyone wants to do the same route. Not quite blogging my home area yet but I’m getting closer and closer!

      • restlessjo
        August 14, 2013 at 1:49 pm

        Did think when I commented that it was obviously a weekend away or day out. My south coast geography is not the best (shameful admission!) Is it easy to create a map? I’ve often thought it would be a useful addition when I do my rambles. 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      August 14, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      The maps are really easy – I used a free site called and you just drop pins on the map and then can save them and send to other people. A lot easier than trying to draw one!

      • restlessjo
        August 14, 2013 at 6:07 pm

        You’re not joking- I didn’t even get O level art! Many thanks 🙂

  • Reply
    August 13, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Ahh, my local beaches! They can be amazing places when the sun’s out and the weather is good, but normally we just don’t get that so we can’t enjoy them. Thankfully though this summer we’ve had a few chances to do that at least.

    Like I said to you on Twitter Lucy you definitely lucked out with the weather during your visit, and I’m glad you got to see my part of the county at it’s best 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      August 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      What a great place to live – though I imagine it doesn’t look like that all the time! We definitely got lucky with the weather, here’s hoping it comes back for a bit of an Indian summer too before we get into winter!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 3:19 am

    Just love this place and I know how much I miss it. Going from India is not an economical trip. I am still making plans to save for my trip to all those I misses. Amazing pictures!!!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      August 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      It is a long way from India, hope you get to make the trip back soon and to see more of the countryside here!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 6:16 am

    what a wonderful holiday. I love the photos and the lovely cottage is my favourite. So pleased you got some nice weather to enjoy it.

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      August 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      The village had some lovely thatched cottages too, it was like something you’d see in an old painting! The weather really did make the trip, it’s so nice to be out in the sun.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Devon looks beautiful – I absolutely love your lead photo on this post. Would look amazing as a print on canvas!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      August 14, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks! I’ve got a photographer friend who takes great photos of the beach huts in Southwold so as soon as I saw them I thought I’d have a go.

  • Reply
    March 25, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    Hi Lucy 🙂 I remember your picture postcard views of Croyde. Many thanks for sharing.
    I can’t open those maps on Google Chrome but it might just be me. I never did check out walkjogrun so I’ll try it tonight.

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      March 26, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      Thanks Jo, nice to revisit it – brings back lots of good (and sunny) memories. Strange about the maps, seem to work on on my computer (using Firefox), hope you have better luck later!

  • Reply
    March 25, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Came to have a look at your walks Lucy courtesy of your link on Jo’s Monday Walk as I drove past Woolacombe, Croyde and Saunton Sands a few years ago but didn’t stop as parking was £5 (at each place) and we only wanted to stop for an hour or so. A lovely part of the west country though and if I do go back I shall certainly see if I can do these walks 🙂
    Jude xx

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      March 26, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      Thanks Jude. It’s a lovely part of the world and there are some great walks around there. We only did a taste this time but I would love to come back and walk a longer part of the coastal path someday.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2016 at 8:48 am

    how lovely!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    What a beautiful walk following the coastline! Whether you’re visiting Devon on holiday or are a local, there’s always a lot of wonderful nature walks to discover to help you to increase your appreciation of the English countryside.

    • Reply
      February 17, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      Thanks Jane, yes it’s a lovely part of the country to explore.

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