North Devon Coast

National Landscape

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Saunton Sands

Saunton Sands extends for three and a half glorious miles. It really is a special beach. At low tide the sea retreats up to 500 metres, exposing over two and a half million square metres of golden sand. It also holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded in the south west. On August 3rd 1990, the mercury hit a scorching 35.4 degrees celcius (95.7 degrees fahrenheit).

Landscape and Nature

The beach and associated dune system form a central part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – Internationally recognised for it’s wildlife. The presence of dunes in this area stretch way back into the past, and if you look closely at the Saunton Cliffs, you’ll see they form part of an ancient fossil dune system – now turned to rock.

Walking along the rock to Down End (having checked the tide is on its way OUT not IN) you can also spot ‘erratics’ – misplaced rocks believed to have been transported here in ice during previous ice ages. One particularly famous erratic is made of pink granite from western Scotland, and sits on a wavecut platform beneath the fossil beach. The geological timescales involved can really bend your mind!


But it’s Saunton’s military heritage that really helps defines this beach and the dune system behind it. The area was famously used to practice the D-Day landings after the landscape was found to be similar to Omaha beach in everything from sand quality to beach gradient and tidal range.

Even the distinctive white “art deco” Saunton Sands Hotel got involved World War Two activities. Originally built around an established small hotel in the 1930’s, during the war the hotel was used as a Military School and was painted green in order to camouflage it – as it was thought that enemy bombers used it to line up for their route over Cardiff.

After the war, the building was renovated and restored to serve its original function as a first class Hotel. Owned by the Brend Group, it is one of the premier hotels in North Devon.


A great spot to begin a walk, for relaxing, surfing or other water sports. Annual surfing competitions are also held here.


This beach has toilets, refreshments, surf hire, showers, beachhuts and more… The beach is manned by lifeguards during the summer.

Arts, and culture

Saunton’s beauty has not gone unnoticed in popular culture and Saunton Sands has acquired something of a celebrity status over the years. The beach featured in the video for Robbie Williams’ smash hit ‘Angels’, and Pink Floyd also used it in their film ‘The Wall’, and later on the cover art for their 1987 album ‘A Momentary Lapse Of Reason’. It even appeared in the 1946 Powell and Pressburger film ‘A Matter of Life and Death’.

Beach Information
Weather & Tides
Christie Estates – Saunton Sands