Woolacombe Warren and beach walk

Woolacombe Beach, near Woolacombe, North Devon coastline

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
The beach is great for surfing © Ben Selway

The beach is great for surfing

Woolacombe Beach played an important role in the Second World War © National Trust

Woolacombe Beach played an important role in the Second World War

Dunes developed from sediment eroded during the last glaciation © National Trust

Dunes developed from sediment eroded during the last glaciation

Route overview

A circular walk, including a stretch of the South West Coast Path, through the sand dunes and along the beach at Woolacombe.  A haven for wild flowers and bird life in the summer.

  • Grade of walk: Flip Flop (easy and lots of fun)
  • Type of walk: 'Beautiful Views', 'Flora & Fauna'

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map of the Woolacombe Warren and Beach Walk in Devon
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Marine Drive car park, grid ref: SS458433

  1. From the car park at Marine Drive drop down into the sand dunes until you reach the National Trust money box and bench.

    Show/HideA surfers' paradise

    Surfing came to North Devon in the early 1900s, becoming more fashionable in the 1920s when the young Agatha Christie became an enthusiast. Today the waves can attract over 10,000 people to Woolacombe beach on a good day. Woolacombe Sands is over two miles (3km) long and was given to us in 1909 by Miss Rosalie Chichester of Arlington Court in memory of her parents. She was also largely responsible for the creation of the holiday village as we see it today.

    The beach is great for surfing © Ben Selway
  2. From this point, follow the South West Coast Path until you reach a large waymark post.

    Show/HideUS 'invasion'

    At the beginning of the Second World War these beaches were protected by barbed wire and guns, with large posts positioned across the beach to stop enemy boats and aircraft landing. In 1943 the beaches were put to a very important and secret purpose - as the training grounds for the US Assault Training Centre. American troops took over the coastline from Morte Point to Appledore in preparation for landing on the Normandy beaches on D-Day, 6 June 1944.

    Woolacombe Beach played an important role in the Second World War © National Trust
  3. At the waymark post turn right down the track until you reach a junction in the sand dunes.

    Show/HideCoastal change

    The dunes at Woolacombe developed from sediment eroded during the last glaciation. This was deposited at sea and then gradually brought ashore, where it was picked up by onshore winds blowing across the beach at low tide, and deposited as dunes behind. Dunes tend to migrate inland but the dunes at Woolacombe are backed by the steep seaward face of Woolacombe Down, a fossil sea-cliff dating from a period of higher sea level.

    Dunes developed from sediment eroded during the last glaciation © National Trust
  4. At this junction go right and descend through the dunes on to the beach. Once on the beach turn right towards Mill Rock.

  5. Just past Mill Rock climb up a gap in the dunes to return to your starting point.

  6. We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk

End: Marine Drive car park, grid ref: SS458433

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
  • Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
  • OS Map: Landranger 139
  • Terrain:

    A sand dune walk, steep in places and a short stretch of beach. Dogs welcome, but keep a close eye on them near livestock.

  • How to get here:

    By bus: service 303, Barnstaple to Woolacombe. See Devon Traveline website or call 0871 200 22 33

    By train: Barnstaple, 15 miles (24km)

    By car: A361 from Barnstaple, then B3343 signed to Woolacombe at Mullacott Cross roundabout

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