Devon is blessed with two beautiful, opposing coastlines. The north boasts rocky outcrops and craggy cliffs, whilst the south’s verdant countryside rolls into sandy coves and horseshoe bays. Both, however, offer access to the South West Coast Path where you can bimble along the winding paths taking in the incredible views out to sea.
One of my favourites walks happens to be on the north coast on a small stretch of path that meanders from Hele, just outside Ilfracombe to a place named the happiest view in Britain. This is the place I visit when I need to relax and recharge, and I can honestly say it lives up to the name. It’s my happy place.
I like to park my car in a small free car park just past Hele Bay if you’re heading towards Combe Martin on the A399. Here you’ll find a small picnic area with views back towards Hele, perfect if you like to start your walk with a cuppa! From here, there is a small path that runs alongside the road which picks up the coast path as you weave your way towards Watermouth Cove.
It takes around 45 minutes to reach Watermouth Cove. This part of the coast path is pretty hilly, so be prepared for a few climbs in both directions. You’ll be treated to little glimpses of the harbour as you make your way along the path, however the ‘wow’ moment comes when you reach the top of the cliff before heading down into the harbour. It’s one of my favourite sights in Devon! It takes my breath away.
From here, there’re a steady walk to reach the harbour where I like to stop at a Storm in A Teacup café for a light lunch or delicious cream tea. The café has been made from an old rescue boat that has been given a new lease of life by its current owners. The café sits right on the harbour wall; a wonderful spot where you can relax and watch the boats bobbing in the water.
There’s a short walk from the harbour through the neighbouring campsites to reach the happiest view in Britain. I stumbled upon ‘that view’ during a trip to north Devon in June 2018 when we were in the midst of a heatwave – which made the discovery look even more impressive. Crystal waters, calm seas and a beautiful sailing boat anchored just offshore – and there it was… Broadsands Beach.
A perfect little cove sheltered by high cliffs and swaying trees. At low tide, the shingle beach exposes smaller coves and a walkway to the other side of the cliffs whilst the sheltered bay creates the perfect place for a sea dip.
The only downside to this hidden gem is access; it’s not for the feint hearted. You have to negotiate 230 steps down a steep cliff, however the natural beauty of the cove makes you feel like you’ve stepped onto a Mediterranean island. Simply stunning and well worth the effort. Just remember you need to climb back up and finish your walk back to Hele!
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