Exploring Watermouth Harbour

One evening in the summer, after stumbling across a picturesque Instagram post of steps overlooking Watermouth Harbour, I went in search of this exact location. Following a quick check on the South West Coast Path website, it became apparent that the best place to start looking would be nearby Hele Bay, on the outskirts of Ilfracombe.

Fortunately, I was aware of a lesser known car parking spot opposite the town’s golf course, the perfect place to set off on foot for our adventure. The layby itself already provides gorgeous views from above Hele Bay and the coastline towards Ilfracombe town. Definitely a pretty cove to check out in its own right (I hear it’s great for cold water swimming!).

Anyway, once on the trail towards Berrynarbor, we were immediately teased by hidden coves, looking so peaceful and untouched. Just imagine heading out on a paddle board, listening to the waves lap the shore, with no one else in sight.

Being mid July, the cliffs were alive with vibrant foliage and brightly coloured wildflowers, enhanced further by the golden hour light. The thick hedges also provided leafy green tunnels on the overgrown walkway, offering us welcomed shelter from the early evening sun.

By climbing up to the top of the hill, you eventually reach the old coastguard cottages, where a sweeping left turn heads right towards the sea. This gives an incredible vantage point, where the water is always a gorgeous deep turquoise, glistening as the waves hit the rock formations.

The wide wedge steps force larger strides, but the promise of getting even closer to the water, tempts you down quickly towards Samson’s Bay and the ocean.

This section of the coast path is certainly a hilly one, with hikes up to high points, before bringing you back down for a breather. However, with so many beautiful views, it’s good to have an excuse to stop and take it all in!

Nature lovers will be pleased to spot alpacas in the surrounding fields – how lucky they are to have such an incredible environment! With every turn, there’s a perspective of the Ilfracombe coastline to stop you dead in your tracks, plus plenty of photogenic landscapes for those bringing along a camera.

Then, the view everyone has been waiting for! The steps down to the most stunning backdrop you could imagine (and the money shot for any photographers). Looking across at Watermouth Harbour, with all the boats bobbing in the water, and the lookout tower on the horizon. It doesn’t get much more breathtaking than that in North Devon!

It is possible to walk on further towards Watermouth, meandering past another beautiful (but private!) cove, belonging to local a bed and breakfast. You’ll want to continue along the woodland path to eventually come out right in the bay.

It’s not always possible to get much further (especially at high tide!), unless you fancy a swim or a very muddy trek, so this is where I normally turn around and head back towards the car. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can easily carry on in the direction of Broadsands and Combe Martin by taking the road.

I have now walked this route multiple times since (as you can probably tell from the variety of photos), but no matter the time of year or weather conditions, it still continues to blow me away! (You can read more about the lookout tower below in this post.)

Hopefully this has given you a helpful insight into what a route that is like no other in North Devon! If you’re a local, did you even know this section of the path existed? I certainly didn’t!

For that reason, I could not have been more grateful to have discovered it this summer, when travel has been very restricted for reasons we are all aware of! I’d love to know if you’ve tried it out or intend to – just drop me a comment below!

Baggy Point – Walking in Croyde

Croyde has so much to offer. The beautiful yet small village has a charming laid-back vibe, which isn’t surprising, due to the golden bay and spectacular surf that draws in both locals and crowds from further afield.

However, those looking to head off the beaten path will certainly want to explore the coastline of Baggy Point. There is a relatively easy circular route which takes you along both sides of the point and then back across the headland, taking in both the nearby farmland and far-reaching views of the Atlantic (keep an eye out for Lundy Island on the horizon!).

Whether you tend to reach for hiking boots or a beaten up pair of trainers, this section of the South West Coast Path, which belongs to the National Trust, is well looked after and caters for most levels of walkers. (Members of the NT will be pleased to hear that you can park here for free!) For more hardened hikers, there is a route which takes you to Woolacombe, but this takes about four hours.

Baggy Point in Croyde

The path out to Baggy Point is quite narrow in places, and may not be for the faint-hearted, but personally I love to look at the depth below, watching as the swirling sea laps around the rock form. I recently watched a video that showed a secret cut through to a tidal pool that looked heavenly for a summer dip. It’s definitely on my list of places to find next summer, so I will keep you updated!

As you head out onto the trail, you may spot the remaining bones of a large whale, which washed up onto the beach in 1915. There is also a pond on the route, which provides a natural habitat for a variety of creatures. I remember finding frogspawn here as a child with my family. Fascinating if you’re a fan of nature!

In spring and summer, wild flowers will be aplenty, the vibrant colours complementing the whites and blues of the surrounding water. While those visiting towards the end of the year may instead see interesting fungi and bright yellow gorse spread across the wild cliffs. Not forgetting the black Hebridean sheep who sometimes make an appearance on the green grass clinging to the hillside.

When reaching the point, you can choose to sit right at the very edge, or admire from further back. During lockdown, we were fortunate enough to experience a sunset from the very tip, and had the whole place to ourselves. It was the most magical experience and one I certainly won’t forget. The position of the headline is just perfect to watch the sun as it sets behind the sea. Once the sun disappears, the panoramic views of the ocean are simply stunning (and you’ll be able to see nearby Morte Point), as the sky begins to change through a variety or pink and orange hues.

It’s just as dramatic in the winter, watching as the waves crash against the sea cliffs, but you’ll want to make sure you wrap up warm! (I can’t write this post without mentioning that I actually got engaged here on 1st November 2020 on a wet and windy day, so as you can imagine, Baggy Point really does have a special place in my heart!)

So, if you’re looking for a gentle walk, then I must say that this beautiful section of coastal path is well worth the effort of leaving the main village. I recently wrote some tips about how to live like a local in Croyde if you’d like to check them out here. Let me know if you’ve been before in the comments below, or ask a question and I’ll do my best to share my local knowledge with you!