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Woolacombe Devon

Page history last edited by Ann Vipond 1 year, 9 months ago


Woolacombe Devon


A family friendly seaside resort with a Beautiful beach set in countryside


     Woolacombe August 1 2017 at 07:40  


       Woolacombe August 1 2017 at 14:00  



Woolacombe on the north coast of Devon Facing west into the Atlantic Ocean most of the land around the area is around 500ft above sea level with deep valleys running down to the sea and steep and rocky coastlines and very narrow access roads


Woolacombe is in some way an unusual seaside resort because it does not have much of a history.  Most seaside resorts are based in part on a coastal village or town that had a history of coastal activity like inshore fishing.  Woolacombe is not like that.  Until the end of the Nineteenth Century all that was in the 'combe' was a farmhouse and some barns.  


This is because the coast here is very exposed mostly rocky and dangerous with prevailing strong onshore winds that are dangerous particularly for sailing craft. The main local activity is farming, any fishing was done from much more sheltered spots like Ilfracombe.  The closest village, Morthoe is away from the sea and partly sheltered from northerly and westerly winds behind a local hill a couple of miles away from the famous beach.  It too has a strong agricultural base but no doubt incomes were supplemented by salvaging from the many local shipwrecks and a bit of smuggling.


The first house built just at the beginning of the 20th Century was Parade House a holiday Home for Rosalie Chichester of Arlington Court (now a National Trust property)   The Chichesters' owned most of the land in this area.


This was followed a few years later by the development of two or three streets of large houses for the wealthy to retreat to in summer together with a few rows of cottages  set back from the sea around the original farmhouse to provide the essential support services.  Tartrate were also a couple of traditional country house hotels. Two more modern hotels were also developed probably between the wars o later One from three large houses back a short way up the road and one considerably highest up the hill


Development has been slow limited by the fact that until the 1980s all the access roads were single track with passing places even now there is only one two lane road to the village.  In recent years it strictly limited by conservation area orders to extension and replacement of existing buildings with very little infill and the only holiday developments held back away from the coast. The only modern builds are well back up the hill.


The original large houses became bed and breakfast or small hotels as the tourist industry grew but since 2000 these are now developing into flats for holiday rentals and/or second homes with a few spectacular “Grand Designs” redevelopments.  It has a large holiday population which is mostly housed several large Chalet, Caravan and camping sites placed discretely back from the coast and out of site from the shore


Why we like the place


My wife Jose has been coming to it ever since she was a child and very rapidly introduces it to me.  We consider it to be the perfect seaside resort with its beautiful  surfing beach set in countryside much of which is access land with lots of footpaths and wonderful sea views and plenty of pubs and cafes.  


We like the place at all seasons of the year because of its special mild climate moderated by the sea and its local weather patterns which tend to make it sunnier than inland.   Although many of the tourist features shut down in winter the main supermarkets and pubs stay open and have good local clientele together with a band of hardy surfers who surf all year round.


Ian Kimber

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