North Devon Coast

National Landscape

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Peppercombe Valley & Portledge Peppercombe Outlier

This very distinctive outcrop of permian age ‘red beds’ found on the stretch of coast between Peppercombe and Portledge, Horns Cross, unconformably overlie folded Upper Carboniferous, Bude Formation rocks.

This special stretch of coastline comprises of characteristic red mud and sandstone of a type and age found nowhere else in North Devon with rocks of this type and age otherwise found in the south east of the county. This outlier, where an area of younger rock is completely surrounded by older rocks, was formed through a sequence of faults in the rock and subsequent movements and is known as the Variscan Unconformity. These rocks were deposited in relatively arid conditions with intervals of heavy rainfall and flash floods.

Access to the beach can be reached via the beautiful Peppercombe Valley which is a true Devon ‘combe’, the local term for a wooded valley. A mixture of rare grasslands, woodland and marshy habitats, this area is biologically very diverse. It plays host to a range of wildlife, such as rare lichens, orchids and fritillary butterflies. The valley is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and is owned and managed by the National Trust. The valley leads down to the sheltered rocky foreshore – characteristic of this part of the coast.

Please note that access to Peppercombe Valley is either via the South West Coast Path or via the footpaths leading down from the A39 at Horns Cross.  There is NO VEHICLE ACCESS to the site itself and there is only limited public parking at Horns Cross, the nearest parking is a small County Council layby some 350m towards Bideford.

North Devon AONB RIGS Report – South
Portledge Peppercombe Outlier – geology