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!