North Devon, June 2013

When you book a weekend at the seaside in the UK, weather is always going to be a bit of a lottery.

We’ve been to North Devon lots of times in spring and autumn, as well as in the summer months, and we’ve walked bits of the coast path there in rain, fog, hail and even, on occasion, in sunshine, but this time we really got lucky with the weather.

Watersmeet Hotel, Woolacombe
We spent the first few days of June 2013 staying at the Watersmeet Hotel on the North Devon coast just outside Woolacombe.  This hotel was built as a private hotel in 1907 and sits between the Woolacombe to Mortehoe road and the sea, just where the road twists round past Combesgate Valley.  The hotel is a long narrow building making the most of its location, with every room having a sea view, and lots also having balconies looking out on Combesgate Beach.  At one time the hotel had lots of small rooms but over the years these have been merged to leave the hotel with fewer bigger rooms.  The various renovations have also added two swimming pools (one inside and one outside) and a dramatic terraced dining room on the west end of the building looking straight out to sea.  If you get the timing right (and the weather co-operates) you get a wonderful sunset just as your dessert is arriving.

Watersmeet Hotel from Combesgate Beach
We’ve stayed as the Watersmeet several times over the past 10 or 12 years, and it definitely falls into the ‘occasional treat’ category.

The South West Coast Path goes past just behind the hotel, and the obvious thing to do with a two day stay at the Watersmeet is to walk southwards towards Baggy Point one day, and northwards towards Morte Point on the other.

Woolacombe Sand from Putsborough
The southwards walk takes you past Combesgate and Barricane beaches on the way to the two-mile-long Woolacombe Sand.  Once you reach the far end, the beach becomes Putsborough Sand, and from there the path climbs up onto Baggy Point, and if you’re feeling energetic eventually follows round into Croyde Bay and to Saunton Sands.  If you feel the urge to turn the walk into a circular one, you can follow an inland route back from Putsborough to Woolacombe.

Putsborough Sand from Baggy Point
The northward walk to Morte Point is rather shorter.  From the hotel it climbs up around the top of Grunta Beach and out onto Morte Point.  The churning waters just off the Point provide a reminder that these waters aren’t great places to take a boat, and the name rightly indicates that many seafarers over the years haven’t given the Point a wide enough berth.

Combesgate Beach with Baggy Point in the distance as you climb up towards Morte Point
Grunta Beach and Morte Point
And if Morte Point isn't far enough, the path carries on round to Bull Point, and from there onwards and eastwards to Ilfracombe.

Bull Point and Rockham Bay from Morte Point
If you’re looking for somewhere on the Coast Path in North Devon, where you’ll be well-looked after and well-fed the Watersmeet is definitely worth your attention.

And if you get really lucky you’ll get blue skies and warm gentle winds too. These images and others are on my Flickr site.

The Watersmeet Hotel website is at

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