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North Devon Surf Guide

As far as travelling UK surfers go, then North Devon beaches are always a popular spot for those that travel down as it’s not as far as Cornwall and is easily accessible from the motorways. Indeed, talking to many of the local surfers around Croyde and Woolacombe, they say come Friday night and especially when there’s a bit of swell coming, loads of estate cars turn up with their boards. This is the downside of North Devon particularly in the summer, the crowds. The standard of surfing is very high but in spring, autumn and winter you can still get a fair chunk of waves and manage to escape the crowds. Getting around this stretch of Devon will inevitably mean getting stuck behind your fair share of tractors and access to some spots is down little tracks, so allow plenty of time and don’t get too frustrated at the speed of traffic, you’re in the West Country now!


1. Croyde

Probably the most popular spot in the area. On its day, Croyde can fire and offer top quality waves. The main problem with Croyde is the crowd factor, so early and late surfs are a good idea. It’s offshore in an easterly and pumping on a westerly groundswell and can get very hollow at low tide. The standard is high here, so if you don’t feel comfortable check out somewhere mellower like Saunton. The village itself is lovely and features many thatched properties. For nightlife, eating and drinking, Billy Budd’s and The Thatch are very popluar with surfers.

2. Saunton

An enormous stretch of coast which works on all stages of the tide. It’s offshore on an easterly but doesn’t have the best banks. However, the waves peel gently although they can lack power. It’s popular with longboarders and is a good place for beginners. Croyde or Braunton are the closest places to stay.

3. Woolacombe

Again, a massive stretch of beach which is offshore in an easterly wind and good in a westerly groundswell. It works on most stages of the tide and is less crowded than Croyde. It’s a busy town with loads going on in the summer with many good places to eat and drink such as the ever popular Red Barn and newer restaurants like West Beach which specialises in top quality locally caught seafood. They also do cracking BBQs in the summer.

4. Putsborough

I suppose you could technically class this as Woolacombe as it’s right at the end of this stretch of beach but this gets more protection from the winds particularly when it’s a souhwesterly. It’s best from mid to high tide and can get very good. On bigger swells. it tends to get a bit rippy so watch out for that. You can park right by the beach but it’s a very narrow road down to it so don’t drive too fast and the only other downside is that it’ll cost you £5 to park your car. The best bet to stay and go out is Woolacombe or Croyde and there are plenty of choices on offer.


5. Lynmouth

Tucked away about 30 minutes north of Barnstaple, this can be, on its day, one of the best pointbreaks in the country. If there’s a meaty swell at the main beaches (over 5ft) then lovely long lefts up to 300m long can be ridden. It needs lightish winds from the south and south east and northwesterly swell to be properly on and works on all stages of the tide, though it’s best coming off low. It’s definitely a wave for the more experienced surfer though as there are rips, rocks and plenty of people to avoid!

6. Westward Ho!

Not the best but can have its good days. Again the swell needs to come from the west and it’s offshore in an easterly wind and because it’s not as good as the other spots is generally much less crowded. It works through the tode and is a good beach for inexperienced surfers. Accommodation and loads of places to eat can be found in Bideford.

LynmouthWestward Ho!

7. Buck’s Mill

A pretty little village full of thatched cottages. The wave here can be a peach when big swells are pounding the other spots. This reef break is offshore in a southerly wind and the sweet lefthander works best at low tide but it can get very crowded and brings out all the decent surfers in the area.

8. Porlock Weir

The break needs a huge swell for it to work and is offshore in southerly and southwesterly winds. It’s quite tricky to get to but worth the walk as when it’s on it’s fast and punchy.

9. Speke’s Mill

Another tricky spot to access, this reef break offers lefts and rights but it does get crowded and is dominated by the locals so show courtesy and respect.

Many thanks to Wavelength Magazine for this guide to North Devon. Visit their website at www.wavelengthmag.co.uk

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