With the sun beating down and the waves lapping the shore, it's hard to imagine a better place to spend a summer's day than on Woolacombe Beach. The problem is that if you happen to be there during the main holiday season you won't be the only visitor, and getting yourself some peace and quiet becomes a strategic quandary.
Luckily for you, we've spent so much time in Woolacombe over the past decade that we've become experts at finding a quiet spot on the beach, even during the busy season. Read on for our advice for blissful personal space.
It's two miles long!
Fact. The distance between the rocks at the north end of Woolacombe and the headland at Putsborough beach is slightly over 2 miles. Getting your own quiet space is as simple as walking a little further but...
You probably didn't prepare properly
If you turn up at the beach and park in the main car park opposite the Red Barn pub, you're going to end up with 90% of the other visitors at the north end of Woolacombe. The reason is simple if you think about it. Once you've unloaded the cooler box, the frisbee, the beach ball, the spare frisbee, the sandwiches, the football, the cold drinks, the picnic blanket, the cricket set, the wind break, and the rugby-ball-rocket-shaped thing that makes an annoying noise, you're carrying too much. It's unlikely that you're footwear is appropriate for a trek across the sand and, since we don't allow pets at Kittiwake One, you've probably left the camel at home with a neighbour. So you'll do what everybody else did. You'll lollop down the ramp, reach the sand, find the first empty space, and let it all go. And there you'll stay, assuming the people that somehow carried all their freight much further down the beach are superhuman.
They're not. They just packed better and parked in a different place
Lets start with the packing. Get yourself a big beach bag. It doesn't matter where you buy it from, as long as it has shoulder straps and lots of room. They may not look chic but those big blue Ikea bags are perfect for the job. Now pack everything you want to bring. If it doesn't fit, be brutal and double-check whether you really need it or not. You're aiming to end up with more arms between you and your friends than things to carry. However, don't forget the suncream, sun hat, and lip balm.
Once the beach bag is packed, get yourself a soft-sided cooler. Huge plastic coolers are a great idea if you're going to drive a pickup truck directly to your spot on the sand, but you're only allowed to do that if you're on duty with the RNLI. In which case you probably won't be allowed a very interesting cooler box anyway. Anyway, pack the cooler box with everything you need for the day. Remember that there's a convenience store right in the centre of Woolacombe so it's not the end of the world if you forget a key ingredient.
Now you're packed you need to drive to the beach. The best place to go is the Marine Drive car park behind the sand dunes. The further down Marine Drive you go, the more isolated you'll be when you get to the sand. However, the walk through the dunes will be steeper. Take a look at our blog post on parking in Woolacombe for more details on how to get to Marine Drive.
Where to now?
Follow any one of the myriad of criss-crossing paths through the dunes towards the sea. If you veer towards the south (left as you face the sea) you'll be moving further from the crowds that took the easy path. You can stop anywhere you like now. We'd recommend staying at the top of the dunes where you'll have natural shelter from the wind as well as a stunning view. Lay out your stuff, and relax!
There's a great walk described by the National Trust that takes you through the dunes and includes some local information and history. Read more here.