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The Art of the Staycay: Local Hidden Gems

A grid of photos from the coast of North Devon - Instow, Baggy Point, Woolacombe, Morte Point, Croyde, Lee Bay
With overseas travel on hold for many of us, now’s the time to ditch foreign flights for a roadtrip. The main beaches may be busy, but there are limitless hidden corners of coastline to explore. We reveal our top ten spots for seaside isolation here – all within a short distance of our Wanderlust Life HQ.
 

A case of the blues: Lee Bay

Beloved by spearfishers, kayakers, swimmers and paddleboarders, this quiet corner offers crystal clear blue waters and a sense of solitude. Rock outcroppings act like windbreaks, lending a sense of privacy as you pitch up for the day. 
 

An open secret: Westward Ho!

When the beaches north of Barnstaple get full to the point of bursting, there’s always space to spread out at the Ho. Dip in the high tide sea pool on the town end, or watch for an onshore day with a bit of swell and climb aboard a Dick Pearce bellyboard in delicious sorbet shades.
 

Life on the edge: Crow Point

Follow the private toll road (£2 for cars) to park on the estuary. An unspoilt beach evokes Cape Town, a perfect spot to pitch up with a picnic. Watch the Atlantic flow into calmer river waters that rise and fall with the tides. Samphire reveals itself at low. Happy hunting!
 

Cliffs and crags: Baggy Point

Just north of Croyde, a 2km walk skirts the headland and lands you at Putsborough Sands. Along the way tidal pools fill in with sun-warmed water – ideal for a quiet swim. Keep your eyes on the cliffs and you might spot thrill enthusiasts climbing the rock faces.
 

As you dune: Sandy Lane

Flat roads winding through Braunton Burrows are a dream for fair-weather cyclists. Lock up your wheels in Sandy Lane carpark and scale the giant dunes to find your perfect perch for enjoying a cold drink and watching the sun go down over Saunton. 
 

Off the beaten track: Barricane Beach

This family-friendly sheltered spot is a beautiful place to collect cowrie shells and watch the sunset. Sustenance comes in the form of coffee from the nearby Heartbreak Hotel horsebox or Sri Lankan curry from a beachside hut.

 

Walk on by: Bucks Mill to Peppercombe

Wander for 11km along a coastal path that features vistas of hidden coves, woodland streams, rocky beaches and red sandstone cliffs. The valley is rich with wildlife but not amenities – so bring your own drinks and snacks as you get away from it all.
 

Pedal power: Fremington Quay

Lockdown gave us plenty of chances to board our bikes and rediscover the Tarka Trail. With no traffic or hills, it’s an easy breezy way to soak in riverside views. The café in Fremington affords a pretty resting spot to survey the progress you’ve made back along the waterway towards Braunton.
 

Get out of town: Hele Bay

A sheltered cove beyond Ilfracombe combines sand and shingle – pick a place and throw down a towel. This is a lazy spot that’s good when your agenda includes snoozing and reading in the sun. Rock pools at low tide offer a natural diversion.
 

Tip of the day: Morte Point

This wild and often windswept spot features high cliffs that descend into deep, deep water. Great for a seaside safari – you’ll want a pair of binoculars for spotting Atlantic grey seals. Make a morning of it by taking the 3.5km circular walk from Mortehoe.
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