A walk on the South West Coastal Path from Croyde to Ilfracombe
The plan for the day was to walk the Croyde to Ilfracombe section of the South West Coast Path. This is a hilly and fairly demanding leg of the path located in North Devon. It does however offer some of Devon’s most spectacular scenery.
The Croyde to Ilfracombe section of the walk was chosen on this occasion as I had popped up to visit Woolacombe & Morte Point only last year and became an instant fan. I loved the area so much that I vowed to return and walk the path some more.
To avoid the worry about parking a vehicle and having to return later to collect it again, it was decided to use public transport to get to and from the Devon walk. After researching the options we found that the stagecoach bus company offered a Devon Explorer ticket that gave all day travel for a set price of £7.50. This was ideal for this leg as its routes operated to the start in Croyde and again from the finish in Ilfracombe.
One of the drawbacks with using public transport for this leg was that we were a little restricted with walking time so would need to get to Croyde as early as possible and then commence walking right away in order to make transport connections on the return journey.
Transport to / from walk
To the start
Our day started with an early rise to catch the 6.30am bus to North Devon. This got us to Barnstaple at 8.30 in plenty of time to then get the next connection at 8.50 from the neighbouring platform. This then arrived in Croyde just before 9.30am.
Originally we wanted to start our walk from Woolacombe, but the transport company used did not seem to visit this seaside resort. You can use an alternative company however we decided that in order to avoid any additional travel costs we’d start our walk in Croyde. This we found to be much more accessible via the 308 bus with pick-ups every 30-minutes. At the same time would also make further use of our Devon explorer tickets.
Please check any transport information mentioned as they do unfortunately seem to cut routes and change times. You can check bus times and download an up-to-date time table at the Journey Devon site.
If travelling by car to Croyde:
Leave M5 motorway at junction 27 (Tiverton turn-off). Then follow the North Devon link road (A361) to Barnstaple then on to Braunton. From Braunton take the B3231 to Croyde
From the finish
Travelling back from Ilfracombe to Barnstaple is well served via bus. We again were able to use our all-day tickets so did not incur any additional charges on this leg either. We did however have as mentioned, the need to make the last connection in Barnstaple for the last bus home which was leaving just after 6pm.
If travelling by car:
something we avoided having to do by using the bus was the need to get back to the car in Croyde. If we had parked up, we would have first needed to catch a bus back to Barnstaple and then on to Croyde again. Again, you’ll need to check times for this and any others for the latest updates at the web address referenced above.
This part of the south west coastal path has some of Devon’s most spectacular coastline with scenes of rugged headlands, beautiful sandy beaches and hidden hard to reach sheltered coves. While seeing parts of this walk once again I was so pleased I had kept my promise to return and complete the full route.
The walk from Croyde to Woolacombe was quite a contrast, at least large parts when compared to the path later to come from Woolacombe to Ilfracombe. Once up and away from the village we were on rolling hills and downs above Baggy Point with some truly magnificent views. Then after dropping down we were on to the sandy dunes behind the two miles (3km) of golden sands of Putsborough and Woolacombe beaches.
Woolacombe was a very busy seaside resort with many hundreds of visitors enjoying this sunny day. The beach was popular with surfers and body-boarders catching the surf as far as we could see. The village seemed to have plenty of pubs, restaurants and shops. And there also seemed to be plenty of places to stay in Woolacombe.
Once out of the hustle and bustle we now found ourselves overlooking several smaller beaches and coves including Barricane and Grunta Breach. The coastline had now changed to a much more dramatic scene. This was the leg approaching Morte Point – the place of many shipwrecks over the years!
From Morte Point the Coast Path had altered significantly. We now found ourselves from one headland to the next descending long steep winding paths to some marvelous hidden coves and then climbing up again once more. At the top we would often pause and marvel at the astounding views that we were witnessing. Between the spectacular coastal landforms these sights seem to go on and on in to the distance. One view was from Bull Point lighthouse constructed in 1879. We could see the coastline from where we had come. As the journey continued, the pauses to take in the scenery became more & more welcomed each time!
Things got a lot easier after arriving in the village of Lee Bay and its rocky cove. This may have been due to welcomed cup of that we managed to acquire from a vendor in one of the driveways. From Lee Bay to Ilfracombe, although we did have a steep climb up again via road, seem to be a lot easier. Once up on the downs we could now see Ilfracombe ahead.
Once in Ilfracombe we made our way down Torrs Park towards the promenade area. The town seemed to be very busy particularly around the Landmark Theatre and Jubilee Gardens. We headed here as we were already aware that this would be the area for our next bus connection. If more time was available we would have liked to have explored Ilfracombe some more as this North Devon seaside resort appeared vibrant and active with lots going on. On this occasion however, we now needed to start our journey home after a tiring day. With only a quick glimpse we have already decided to return again to this area. Maybe overnight next time in one of the many available places to stay in Ilfracombe.
As already mentioned earlier, in order to make return journey connections we had to start walking soon after arriving in Croyde. This meant, other than some great scenic views from the coast path we were unable to explore the village any more.
Whether you are looking for a Hotel, Guest House or camping site, there was lots of places to stay in North Devon and many options in Woolacombe and Ilfracombe. As we had to start walking soon after arriving in Croyde, we didn’t get to explore the village but you can have easily search and find accommodation in Croyde.