Barricane Beach is a unique beach, known by many as ‘The Shell Beach’.

Situated between Woolacombe and Mortehoe, this secluded cove is an area of special scientific interest due to its geological features. The  best known of these features is the Gulf Stream that carries shells from the Caribbean to its shores, this is something that is not found anywhere else in the country, this along with its exposure to the Atlantic winds and waves, bringing with them an abundance of marine life following stormy weather make Barricane Beach a very beautiful and interesting beach to visit.

The beach is home to many rock pools and species, including an abundance of common mussels, limpets and sea hare. However in the summer months beware of the Jelly Fish which can sting!

In May 2015 Barricane Beach was ranked by travel magazine Wonderlust as having the third best beach for finding shells in the World.

If you are visiting the beach in the summer months, the Barricane Café is famed for its homemade Sri-Lankan curries, and is well worth a visit, take a picnic rug and a bottle of wine, to enjoy the sun setting on this beautiful beach.

The walk to Barricane Beach also hides some very interesting Bronze Age history. In September 1938, a burial pit became exposed in the cliff face south of the Beach. In the pit was a heap of mixed black ash, charcoal and calcined human bone. Two burnt sea-shells and some larger pieces of bones It is known that by 1200BC the practice of burial mounds had declined. In the pit was a heap of mixed black ash, charcoal and calcified human bone, two burnt sea-shells and some larger pieces of bones. It is thought that this was the site of a cremation. Research conducted by H.Taylor and E.E. Taylor found that: “The grave may have been paved above with small slabs of shale, for
a number were found.

The Shells

The beach itself is often described as the ‘shell beach’ owing to its foreshore being covered in cowries and exotic sea shells. The shells are bought from the Gulf Stream and are unique to this beach.  Tusk Shells are marine moulluscs with a terping, tubular slightly curved tusk like shell, that is open at both ends. Mermaids Purses are the egg cases of dogfish and skates. The parent fish attaches these egg cases to objects such as seaweeds growing on the sea bed. Empty egg cases from which the baby fish have hatched out, are often found washed up on the beach.


The Cliffs are made from Morte Slate which can be seen in many locations locally both in it’s natural form and in use as a  building material. The lych gate at Mortehoe St Mary’s Church was erected in  1886 by James Bale and Henry Watts, some of the local inhabitants remember the slate being cut from the rock on the south side of Barricane. The regular appearance of the rocks around the pools would indicate cutting rather than the action of the sea. The slate is grey with white quartz veins. The quartz is more resistant to erosion than the slate. The white quartz veins are formed when sandstone is forced into the cracks of the rocks and then compress. Fossils can be found between the layors of Morte Slate which have been broken off by the waves to expose them.


The nature of the jagged slate, dep crevices and gullies make an ideal home for rockpools. Here are some of the things that can be found whilst rockpooling and enjoying the beaches wildlife: WildlifeMoon Jelly FishRock PipitRobinBlackhead GullsHerring GullsShagsOystercatchersCommon Mussels Blue Rayed LimpetSea HareDahlia AnemoneDog Whelks Barnacles  

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