North Devon Coast

National Landscape

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Croyde and Georgeham

Croyde, with its popular sandy beach, is certainly one of North Devon’s better known spots, but there’s a lot more to discover in the surrounding area. From the delightful village of Georgeham to the east, with its variety of charming local pubs, country walks and nature reserves, to the dramatic Baggy Point and nearby Putsborough Sands in the north. To the south, why not enjoy the spectacular walk up over the headland and down to Saunton and Braunton Burrows?

Landscape and nature

The first thing many people think of when they hear Croyde mentioned is surfing. But look beyond the waves and wetsuits and you’ll find a whole lot more to this beautiful part of the North Devon coast. Croyde is a charismatic coastal community of colour-washed cottages and wonderful wildlife. And while this village might be small, it certainly packs a punch when it comes to tourism. It’s not difficult to see why.

You might not think it, but this small parish is packed with wildlife. The unspoilt maritime heathland up on Baggy Point, owned and managed by the National Trust, allows flora to flourish. In late spring and early summer the cliff tops are transformed into a beautiful natural garden as pink Thrift flowers burst into bloom with Sea Campion, Kidney Vetch, Sheep’s Bit Scabious, Rock Spurrey and wild carrot. And as spring gives way to summer you’ll see the pretty colours of Bell Heather and the very rare Rock Sea Lavendar. Baggy is also one of the few places where you can spot both spring and autumn squills – special members of the bluebell family. Hairy Birds-Foot Trefoil is another rare plant that thrives here.

It’s not all about flowers, though. Don’t be surprised if you see Buzzards, Fulmars and Peregrines soaring through the skies above Baggy. And if you look out to sea you might spot a hungry Gannet divebombing from sky to sea in search of lunch. Seals and porpoises are popular visitors to the coast and, back on land, it’s not unusual to find an otter pottering around. Sometimes they even visit the centre of Croyde. And did you know about the Croyde Toad Colony? It’s the third largest in the country. During their spring migration to spawning sites, special road signs are put up to alert motorists to the toads’ movements. Volunteer patrols are even set up to keep the little creatures safe.

But if you’re a real fan of the great outdoors, then a visit to Chapel Wood is a must. This beautifully enchanting wood is one of the oldest of the RSPB’s reserves, established in 1951. As you wind through the woodland on narrow footpaths you’ll find a wide range of woodland birds such as Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Green Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Tawny Owls as well as the occasional Redhatch and Pied Flycatcher. You might even bump into a happy little Dormouse or come across Red Deer, or Badgers.

With so much nature crammed into such a small place, it’s no surprise that this area is often noted for these qualities. The area contains around fifteen conservation schemes and boundaries including a Regionally Important Geological Site (RIGS), County Wildlife Sites (CWS) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Arts, food and culture

Croyde has a thriving surf culture, and for good reason. Croyde Bay is one of Europe’s most renowned surf spots. The strong currents and powerful waves bring seasoned surfers here in droves. For the less experienced, Putsborough offers slower waves and more gentle currents. The surrounding landscape provides a breathtaking backdrop too. If you don’t have any of the gear, you’ll find plenty of places that hire everything you need within Croyde. 

Alongside Croydes’ famed ice-cream parlours, the local menus often feature a range of mouth-watering local produce; the AONB landscape being both a feast for the eyes, soul and stomach.

Head inland from the coast and you’ll come to Georgeham, a small, rural village that is home to about a third of the parish community. The renowned author Henry Williamson lived here when he wrote the famous story of ‘Tarka the Otter’ in the 1920s. A plaque outside his former home marks it out from the other cottages in the village. Can you find it?

Croyde and Georgehams’ landscape continues to inspire artists and craftsmen, whose work is available for sale in the area.


It is commonly thought that Croyde was named and developed by the Vikings. But there’s another theory which suggests that might not be true. Derek Gore, history expert and Honorary Fellow of Exeter University, believes there is another explanation: “I know of no Viking connection with Croyde or Croyde Bay. It is not mentioned in any description of attacks on the North Devon coast in any of the sources.” So where did the curious name of this village come from? “It is named Crideholda in the Domesday Book,” explains Derek. “Cride is one of the many Celtic water names which refer to rivers or streams. The name Croyde is a modern form of this which was probably coined in the 17th or 18th century. Crydda is a very unlikely Scandinavian name.” It seems plausible enough! After all, Croyde does have a very pretty stream that trickles through the village. What do you think?

Much of the Croyde you see today dates back to the 17th century and you can still see several traditional Devonian buildings. Most of them still have beautiful original features such as their thatched rooves. It makes Croyde a very pleasant village for an afternoon stroll. And you can make that stroll even better with a delicious ice cream or a slice of cake from one of the charming local cafés. The village is famed for its beautiful cottages, one of the most notable being ‘Sweets Cottage’, regarded as one of the finest cottages in the whole of the southwest.

On the North side of Croyde beach, the headland of Baggy Point was used for D-Day training. A series of Dummy Pillboxes which were created along the top of Baggy can still be seen today. This allowed troops to practice the scaling the cliffs and knocking out important coastal batteries in Normandy. There’s also a concrete arrow on the ground (still visible today) and observation tower at Putsborough looking toward Morte Point – the headland behind Woolacombe. These were used for aerial bombing practice (the arrow is lined up with Morte rocks). Also, on Baggy Point there is a surviving white wooden lookout post, used by the old coastguard, the only one surviving in North Devon.


Fantastic sea views, quaint villages, dense woodland; Croyde and the surrounding area has something for all types of walker. Try following The South West Coast Path around the bay and breathe in the fresh sea air. Or spend an afternoon exploring the unspoilt wilderness of Baggy Point, one of the UK’s finest coastal headlands.

Baggy Point is also a frequent haunt for rock climbers, whilst at lower ground, the rock-pools to the side of Croydes golden sands are a favourite for rockpooling (just remember the seashore code – to ensure the beach is a safe place for both visitors and those that live there!)

National Cycle Network Route 27 between Ilfracombe and Barnstaple also runs through the area if you’d rather swap two feet for two wheels. So if you’re travelling light – keep your eyes open for cycle hire shops.

Local events

  • GoldCoast Ocean Fest – Look out for one of the Westcountry’s hottest music festivals which rolls into Croyde every summer. Past acts have included Jason Mraz, Magic Numbers and Newton Faulkner.
  • Croyde’s Village hall also hosts a range of regular events including live music and the Croyde deckchair cinema
  • The National Trust also run regular events and activities in this area

Beach Information
Weather & Tides