North Devon Coast

National Landscape

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Hele Bay, Samson Bay and Rillage point

Hele Bay, Samson Bay and Rillage point, along with the coves around Combe Martin, have excellent exposures of sandstones and mudstones of the Ilfracombe ‘Beds’ formed during the Middle Devonian.

Unlike elsewhere on the North Devon Coast, this area around Combe Martin and Ilfracombe has sandstones and mudstones that are interbedded  with limestone bands.  These limestones contain fossils such as corals and brachiopods, indicating deposition  in a shallow sea floor environment.  The limestone bands are stratigraphically important as marker horizons (meaning that the rock can be dated by the fossils that it contains) allowing correlation with inland exposures.

Folds in the beds were formed during a mountain building event in the late carboniferous known as the Variscan Orogeny which caused the relatively new rocks to fold and fault.

The sites can be viewed from the beach at Hele at low tide or from the coast path. Plese take care near cliff edges and check tide times.  Parking is available at Hele.