A Walk from Ilfracombe to Woolacombe

by Gosia Giernalczyk​

There are still a few places on the map of the UK that I have not seen but really want to visit. One of these places was North Devon, an area in southwest England famous for cliffs, sandy beaches and picturesque seaside towns.

Luckily, one weekend in February, I was able to travel the 237 miles between Derby and Ilfracombe to explore North Devon. The drive from Derbyshire was a bit long, but at the same time I felt happy and excited that I would be able to spend a weekend away by the sea.

At the start of her walk from Ilfracombe to Woolacombe, Gosia stands in her walking gear near the sea on a blustery grey day.

There’s no bad weather

On Saturday morning, there was no better way to start the day than going to a lovely little café and having a Full English breakfast and a cup of coffee. After this, I was ready for eight miles of hiking, trekking from Ilfracombe to Woolacombe along the South West Coast Path.

Gosia enjoys the first leg of her hike along the South West Coast Path to Woolacombe despite grey weather.
Mist shrouds the path and the sea below on the South West Coast Path.

I cannot say that the weather was excellent; the first part of the walk was very foggy and most of the time we could not see too much, and it was windy as well. Fortunately, the day was not too cold, and with a good jacket, comfortable boots, warm hat and gloves it was still pleasant to walk and breathe nice, fresh air. There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.

Lee Bay Beach

After only three miles, I reached beautiful Lee Bay Beach and Sandy Cove. The day was rather grey, but I could see plenty of seaweeds, which were bright green, and everything started to look more colourful and beautiful.

I walked around the bay for some time looking at seashells, enjoying the views. The next part of the walk was Benneth Mouth.

Strings of dark seaweed cover the sand at Lee Bay.
Bright green seaweed strewn over the bay gives the walk some colour.

Cliffs, rocks, and sea

The path proved rather hilly, but fortunately the weather had started to improve a bit, so going up and down the hills was more enjoyable and I could see a bit more.

I really liked how many colours I could see around me: even on a rather dull day, the nature surrounding the South West Coast Path still had some lush colours, and it was immensely pleasant to look at.

Heather and gorse add colour to a misty grey scene on a clifftop path between Ilfracombe and Woolacombe.
The weather gets worse, with low visibility through the fog crowding this narrow seaside path.

After having a quick snack, I found the extra energy to go up and down the cliffs and to watch the water splashing on the rocks. It has always been fascinating to me how powerful the sea is and how many different shades the water can have depending on the time of year and the weather.


The last part of the walk was along Grunta Beach and Barricane Beach. At this stage, the weather was not too bad, at least in comparison with the first two hours of the walk, when I could not see much due to fog.

Gosia stands in the foreground as the waves crash against the rocks below.
The yellow sands of Barricane Beach mark the final stretch of Gosia's walk.

Arriving at Woolacombe Beach was the final stage of the walk. The beach is two miles long, and it looked very majestic. The wintery weather did not stop a few people from spending an active day out and playing with their dogs.

I really enjoyed the walk and plan to be back there soon. The views were truly excellent.

Contours Holidays pride ourselves on our expert knowledge of the UK's trails. We regularly set out to check our routes and directions and to make improvements on the holidays we offer. You can find several write-ups of staff expeditions in our Trail Diaries.

Interested in walking North Devon yourself?

Contours Holidays offer two versions of the North Devon walking holiday: the full North Devon leg of the South West Coast Path, and the North Devon Short Break, a shorter route suitable for a long weekend. Find your holiday here:

Originally published 19/04/23

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