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Abtot Logo. Encounter Walking Holidays member number 5357

Woolacombe and Mortehoe

Woolacombe, from the Old English Woolcoma or ‘Wolfs Valley’ holds no such terrors in modern times.  Famed now for its’ three mile stretch of an ultra-pristine golden sandy beach, it wins many awards including The Times 2021 Best Beach. Against a backdrop of golden sand dunes, the beach is a popular destination for surfers and rather amusingly is also home to one of the most famous international sandcastle competitions!

The beach was the base for the U.S army assault training centre and historically was the location for where landings were practised for the Normandy invasion. Today it is a good holiday destination dotted with the odd Regency buildings sadly interspersed with a lot of more modern bungalows but with a pleasant walk around the town and without doubt one of the West Country's finest beaches it suits the overnight walkers well and has a handful of decent eating options.

One mile before Woolacombe is the much older and more interesting village of Mortehoe set 3/4 mile inland of the coast path. Tracing its origins back to the Doomsday book, this stunning stretch of coastline conjures up dramatic images of smuggling due to its jagged offshore rocks and reefs, conjuring talers of smugglers and wreckers.  Mortehoe itself an isolated and wild place surrounded by harsh gorse and heather more reminiscent of the far west of Cornwall. 

Although small, the village has the lovely 12th Century church of St Mary Magdalene with some parts dating from Norman times.  There are a good selection of eateries including three inns and an excellent shellfish restaurant run by the family of the local Lobster Boat "The Walrus" - seafood really does not get fresher than this. The Morthoe Heritage Trust Museum in the village gives a good background to the maritime history of this rather lawless outpost as well as tractor rides to Morte Point to see the seals.

Both locations work fine for coast path walkers - Woolacombe being the best positioned for beach lovers and for breaking the mileage up. For those who want another fascinating old England village ask for Mortehoe but be prepared to walk an extra mile or so on the next days section.

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