Where land meets sea

A post from our General Manager – Rob Joules

Last week after I finished work I decided to go for a quick explore. My mode of transport was my feet and as time was tight and the light fading (it was March after all!) my method was running. The location I was off to explore was Woody Bay and if I was quick and my legs and lungs could cope I reckoned I could do the circular route from Heddon Valley (check out the route yourself) before darkness enveloped the trails.

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The run was so much fun, quite undulating, and the scenery was breath-taking (maybe the hills helped too). As it was a clear afternoon I could see the coast of South Wales in the distance and an array of wildlife including what I think was a Razorbill (I couldnt take my eyes off the trail too long tp be sure!). On a few occasions when the hills were too much, I stopped to take in the view and get my breath back and was amazed that apart from the crashing of the sea many hundreds of feet below and the birds I couldn’t hear a soul. My destination was Woody Bay, one of the first coastal acquisitions in the South West that was bought as part of the Neptune Campaign some 50 years ago. During 2015 were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Neptune Campaign which was created specifically to protect the coast. One of the many achievements of this inspirational project is that it has enabled us to acquire and protect more than 700 miles of UK coastline, 300 miles of which are based here in the South West.

On my way back, after a quick look around Woody Bay (it was a bit chilly to try the old Victorian swimming pool) I was left to ponder what the coast would be like if the Neptune campaign hadn’t been a success and people hadn’t so generously supported it. Would I be running through ancient woodlands, exploring secret beaches and playing on wide expanses of sand? Whilst I was mid thought I was snapped back to reality as the heavens opened and I was battered by a brief hail squall that I had been watching for some time out at sea. The rain focused my attention back onto the sinuous trail beneath my feet and I pushed hard for home. Once back at the car park, amongst people, buildings and the hum of human existence again I smiled and thought what an adventure I’d just had. I’d seen waterfalls, a Victorian carriageway, an old Roman Fort, loads of wildlife and another countries coastline.

It's a shame there wasn't time to take a dip

It’s a shame there wasn’t time to take a dip








The coast has always been a place to play for me and although I may have changed how I’ve played over the years it’s been an ever constant. In my early years as seen below it was all about messing about on the beach, digging holes, building sandcastles, paddling in the sea. The smiles and excitement are still there, albeit now my pleasure comes from surfing, running, swimming and walking the dog with my wife………..although I’m still a fan of building a sandcastle, that never grows old!

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I’m very fortunate in my role as General Manager of the North Devon Coast and Countryside team to be working in such special locations and with a great team to play our part in looking after them for ever, for everyone to enjoy. The coast is an amazing resource and one we must all look after so that future generations can play and enjoy the pleasures that I’ve been lucky enough to have whether it be walking, running, bird watching, sandcastle building or eating sandy sandwiches!

Check out our website for more information on events  There is even an event following some of the route I mentioned to Woody Bay.

4 responses to “Where land meets sea

  1. Linda Miller

    “perhaps the best and most secret beach on the north Exmoor coastline” – http://wildswim.com/crook-point-sands – NT should install steps down at Crook/Crock Point Sands end of Woody Bay for easier access so the public can enjoy the beach rather than keep it a secret – after all what is the NT there for?

    • The National Trust does not own the land, access or beach at Crock Point. We do however maintain good access to the western beach at Woody Bay.

  2. Linda Miller

    The tidal pool is good but the NT don’t publicise it, but the rest of Woody Bay western beach is just rocks. If the NT can’t install steps down to Crook/Crock Point Sands, can they clear a path through the rocks to make access a little easier across the western beach to the sandy beach at the other side of Woody Bay.

  3. Thank you for your comments Linda, To discuss this matter further please do get in touch with Julian Gurney our lead ranger for the area. He will be able to give you a much more detailed answer than I can. Contact julian.gurney@nationaltrust.org.uk or 01598 763556.

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