Shhh - let's keep these secret Devon and Cornwall beaches between us
With approximately 800 miles of coastline enveloping Devon and Cornwall, there are countless concealed coves, secret sands and whimsical waters to be discovered.
We wanted to share some of our favourite secret and hidden beaches of Devon and Cornwall with you...but shhh, these are the places the locals don't want everyone to know about. For those who love to head down the remote paths to be away from the crowds, this list is for you. Combine visits to these locations with a stay at a Brend Hotel for the ultimate South West holiday.
Feel we've missed a key beach that you've visited in the past and wish to share with others? Then tell fellow Devon and Cornwall lovers about it through our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Martinhoe, Exmoor, North Devon
Stoney-beached Woody Bay nestles among the steep cliffs of the rugged coast below the dizzying cliff-top heights of Exmoor. The boulder-strewn beach is almost unvisited, save for gulls and guillemots. An ancient cobbled track and waterfall wind down past a limekiln and the remains of the old pier. Go beyond the waterfall and you will find a seminatural rock pool, offering a secluded swimming spot.
Beware - it's a long steep walk to get to the sea, but completely worth the effort. In the middle of nowhere along the Exmoor coast, the roads along the high moors then give way to dramatic drops of 800ft, and Woody Bay opens up beneath the trees. A truly stunning sight.
Picnics, refreshing dips and the views make the journey worthwhile and provide energy for the trip back up the cliffs.
Ilfracombe, North Devon
Untouched by the hand of time, even in the height of the summer Lee Bay remains a tranquil spot with many rock pools, a small sandy beach and local amenities close at hand.
Lee itself is a tiny village tucked away on the coast, roughly two miles to the west of Ilfracombe, found turning off the road leading to the popular Woolacombe. Bordered on three sides by rolling Devon countryside, it opens up to the Bristol channel. The beach is not particularly big or sandy - but a place to be active, whether it's launching a kayak, looking for crabs with the children or fishing on the rocks.
Near Bideford, North Devon
Access to the unique red cliffed beach is another exciting North Devon adventure - to reach the sea you'll need to walk through Peppercombe Valley. This delightful walk through a myriad of flora and fauna is a roughly one mile steep descend down the wooded cliff, followed by the same steepness coming back up.
Yet we'd highly recommend the effort to discover one of the quietest and most secluded beaches North Devon has to offer! Backed by striking red sandstone cliffs, the beach is the perfect place for peaceful picnics, rock-pooling, walking and wildlife spotting - a world away from the stresses and strains of life, a try solitude.
Clovelly, Bideford, North Devon
Follow a delightful woodland walk to access this pretty isolated cove with its smuggling heritage. The exact site of the former mill at Mouth Mill is uncertain but the remains of an old limekiln, whose limestone and coal would have been brought in via boat, is still visible.
The best time to visit is low tide to appreciate the striking natural formation, Blackchurch Rock. It’s a place people come to explore rather than relax, although there's an inviting grassy area above the seawall should the tranquillity of the cove take you off your feet.
East Prawle, South Devon
The wild and dramatic Prawle Point coastline, between Salcombe and Dartmouth, is the most southerly point in Devon. Moor Sands is made up of tiny round white beads of quartz and is smooth underfoot. There is fun to be had in the water by swimming out to the off-shore rocky islands.
This remote beach is found at the end of a beautiful walk through quiet meadows and down the cliffside with the help of a rope.
Shaldon, Teignmouth, South Devon
Getting to this red-sand and shingle beach is an adventure in itself! The tunnel used to access the beach, Smugglers Tunnel, is thought to be just that, a tunnel built for smuggling.
Whatever its original purpose it's a wonderful way to get to the beach, with its dark entrance and windy path through the heart of the cliff ending with a wonderful view down onto the beach as you exit at the other end.
Lizard Peninsula, South Cornwall
Set among the wildflower-covered rocks of the Lizard Peninsula’s breath-taking and rugged coastline, Kynance Cove was a favourite of the romantic poets and painters. The beaches clear, azure water is perfect for snorkelling and swimming and lazing away a summer's day, whilst walkers can enjoy the many routes around the beach. Keep an eye out for an array of sealife swimming past too!
Penwith, South Cornwall
The dramatic bay is protected by the towering granite outcrop of Logan’s Rock. The water is crystal clear and the sands soft and white. In summer the sandbars create shallow tidal lagoons that warm up in the afternoon sun and there are views over to Porthcurno and the Minack cliff-top theatre - a beautiful place.
But there are a couple of warnings: access to the beach is either by boat or on foot from the coastal path along the cliffs. When the tide comes in, be prepared to escape the current via the steep cliffs. Also, please note that this is definitely a clothes-optional beach!
Polperro, South Cornwall
Take an enchanting walk through woods and streams lined with bluebells and wild garlic in spring to reach Lansallos Coves. The quiet, attractive south-facing cove has a small waterfall on the eastern side of the beach known as Reed Water which once powered a small mill.
It was also hailed as smugglers haven and you can see the deep passage carved in the rocks from smugglers hauling up brandy and French lace contraband. It’s a challenge to find and get to the cove but it is extremely picturesque and an amazing spot to watch the sunset and wildlife, perfect for romantics and adventurers alike.
Fox Cove, Cornwall
Near Treyarnon Bay and Porthcothan, North Cornwall
The largest of the three inlets that sit between Treyarnon Bay and Porthcothan, Fox Cove is completely inaccessible at high tide. But when the water retreats, its smooth, butter-yellow beach is revealed and just off the cove lie the remains of the wreck of a tanker, Hemsley I from 1969.
The path down the cliff to the beach is not for the faint-hearted. Like many secret beaches on our list it's an adventure to reach, but again, it's always worth the effort of being outdoors enjoying the wonderful Cornish nature.
Exmoor, North Devon
Nestled away on Devon’s wild north coast, beneath the wooded cliffs between Watermouth and Combe Martin, is Broadsands, one of Exmoor’s finest beaches.
A true hidden and secret gem, Broadsands is not reachable by road, but by walking along the South West Coast Path, with a stepped descent down to the sand and sea. The path goes through wooded cliffs and the views are quite spectacular. Once at the beach, the cove has caves to explore, and the secluded beaches offering sheltered swimming.