Category Archives: Places to Visit

Mortehoe Museum

Mortehoe Museum is located in the heart of the village, in a grade II listed barn leased to the charity by the National Trust. Mortehoe is steeped in history and Mortehoe Museum is the best place to find out more about this beautiful area. The museum was established as the Mortehoe Heritage Trust with its main objective “To advance the education of the public in the history of Mortehoe and surrounding district, in particular by the management of The Mortehoe Heritage Centre.” Mortehoe Museum is run by local people in Mortehoe and through it’s exhibits it provides information on the life, heritage, culture and maritime history of the village and surrounding area. The upstairs of the museum not only has a stunning view across towards the Church, but also has a large collection of local history displays, artefacts and photographs. Visitors can learn more about local shipwrecks, farming and the growth of the tourism industry locally. On the ground floor, the museum has it’s own shop selling local interest books, locally made crafts and artwork. In the summer, visitors can enjoy the sunshine sitting outside the museum, with its childrens play area and picnic tables.

Bull Point Lighthouse



Bull Point lighthouse is situated in Mortehoe. It was originally constructed in 1879, to guide vessels navigating the North Devon Coast. The plans for the lighthouse started in 1876, when two engineers from the Board of Trade visited the coastline around Morte with the view of ascertaining the most serviceable spot for the erection of a lighthouse. They favoured Bull Point, and a roadway was planned from Morte to the Point. The estimated cost to build the lighthouse, the road and cottages for the keepers was £10,000. However the decision to build the lighthouse at Bull Point, rather than at Morte Point was a controversial one, that many local mariners disagreed with. Morte Stone was considered a danager to vessels in the area, with many people being killed here, when upto fifty vessels could be passing the stone, bound from the Channel. The mariners believed that many “could always weather Bull Point” but talked of Morte Stone “as the dreaded spot, which is difficult on a dark night”. The decision, however, fell in favour of Bull Point, and this is where the lighthouse was eventually built. Mr George Knott would become the first principal lighthouse keeper based here. The Knott family, had manned lighthouses for generations, and are believed to hold the record for longest continued service of manned lighthouses from one family. George was the fourth generation to man a lighthouse, he started his career at South Foreland. George was well known for his wooden carved models of the lighthouses he worked in, the model of Bull Point Lighthouse is believed to be in Plymouth Museum.

The opening of Bull Point Lighthouse was reported in the London Gazette on the 10th June 1879

Further notice is given, that on 30th June the lighthouse on Bull Point will turn on the light. The light will be a flashing white light (triple half minute), showing 3 successive flashes of about two seconds duration each divided by intervals of about three seconds of darkness. A fixed red light will also be shown from the lighthouse, 18 feet below the flashing light to mark Morte Stone. A powerful fog hord signal will also be established giving three blasts during heavy fog.


The lighthouse was finally opened in June 1879, there was no formal proceedings to the opening. The final building of the lighthouse was done by Mr R. T. Hookway of Bideford and came in just under budget at just over £7000. The buidling consisted of a block of dwellings for three keepers and their families, a fog signal horn, tower, oil store, general store, piggeries and office. The fog signal was worked by a pair of caloric engines manufactured by Brown & Co of New York and the lantern and light were manufactured by Chance Brothers of Birmingham. Like all buildings slight modifications and updates were made over the years, with a foghorn added in 1919 and then electrified in 1960. The lighthouse continued to operate without any major incidents, until 1972.

It was the 18th September 1972 when the keeper of the lighthouse reported ground movement, particulary in the engine room. He observed that 2 fissures were opening, which caused him some concern. In the early house of Sunday 24th September, 15metres of the cliff face crashed into the sea, with a further 15 metres subsiding steeply causing deep fissures to open along the boundary wall. Walls cracked and the engine/fog signal station partly collapsed, leaving it in a dangerous condition and putting the fog signal out of action. A temporary tower, which had been in use at Braunton Sands and had been given to the Nature Conservancy, was borrowed back and the optic installed on top of it. This tower was used at the Bull Point Lighthouse for nearly two years, until Trinty House erected a new tower further inland. The lighthouse was designed and built so that all the equipment from the old lighthouse was utilised and after some modification made, this was completed in 1974 at a cost of £71,000 and is currently in use. It was fully automated from completion. The diaphone foghorn was switched off in 1988 and the lighthouse was automated in 1995. The site can be visited by an adjacent public footpath. The old lighthouse keepers’ cottages are now being let out to tourists as self catering holiday establishments.


George Knott

(above): George Knott and his carved wood lighthouse models.

Woolacombe Down Walk by Mark Johnson & Poppy the Dog

Woolacombe is most famous for its world class beach. One of the best ways to enjoy it and to fully appreciate its beauty is to look at it from above. Unless you are one of the paraglider’s who frequently fly around here, the best way to do this is to make the amazing walk over Woolacombe Down. I did this walk along with my dog Poppy and have written about my experience.

This walk is around 5 miles and took us about 2 hours and 15 minutes, including drink stops.

Please download and print by clicking Poppy Walk

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1 We started off at the Puffin Café, where dogs are welcome. This is where we fuelled up for the climb to the top of the Down. I had a half English breakfast and Poppy had a sneaky bit of bacon. Leaving the café and winding through the village following the road along to the Marine Drive car park, you first come to the National Trust sign marking the area of dunes known as Woolacombe Warren.

View to Woolacombe Warren

2 Carrying on up the path, you will meet the gate to Potters Hill which is next to the car park cabin for Marine Drive. Go through the gate and follow the path, this is where the climb to the top of Woolacombe Downs starts.

Potters hill plus sign

3 Continue up past Potters Hill which is where you begin to get nice views of the beach and surrounding area. If you are feeling energetic, you can take the short steep walk left at the signpost to the top of Potters Hill before continuing towards the Down.

Poppy walking up Potters hill

4 At the gate you can take some time for a rest, look back and enjoy the view. The area after the gate is home to a number of beautiful Exmoor ponies which you are very likely to see.

Woolacombe from gate

5 The climb continues, but persevere and you will be rewarded at the top. This is reached after about a mile into the walk. At this point, Poppy decided to sit down for a moment to enjoy the scenery.

Poppy view over Woolacombe.jpg

6 Continue along the largely flat walk, hugging the path overlooking the bay, eventually you will reach a bench which is probably one of the best locations for a sit down you will find anywhere. It would be a great idea to take a flask to enjoy tea or coffee here.

Woolacombe Down Bench

7 After the bench continue downhill (quite steeply at some points), through a gate and eventually over a style. Immediately after the style, you will turn left joining the Marine Drive footpath. Continue to follow this path and after about half a mile you will reach the road entrance to Putsborough Sands.

Putsborough Sands Sign

8 Here you can get a refreshment at the Putsborough Sands Beach Café and enjoy a fantastic views of the whole beach (there is also a brand new toilet complex if needed!). We had a slice of cake and some hot drinks. This was our view from the beach front seating. After you have enjoyed your cuppa and well earned rest, the 2 mile stroll back along Woolacombe’s world class beach is straightforward and thoroughly enjoyable. Remember to take some time to look up to the Down where you have just walked and admire your good work. If you look closely, you should be able to make out your new favourite bench at the top.

Tarka Trail

The Tarka Trail is a delightful pedestrian and cycle way which runs through the stunning North Devon countryside. The entire Trail is a 163 mile figure-of-eight travelling through landscapes little changed from those described by Henry Williamson in his classic 1927 novel Tarka the Otter. It is an invigorating and sustainable way to explore some of our stunning coastline, through deeply incised river valleys with ancient tangled woodland to the productive farmland and moorland higher up the catchments. Some sections of the Trail are also part of the South West Coast Path, the Two Moors Way and the Dartmoor Way.

It is part of the National Cycle Network (routes 27, Devon Coast to Coast and 3, West Country Way) and the shared-use section between Braunton and Meeth is totally traffic free. Along this stretch, many interpretation boards and other information will help you discover the wildlife, heritage, culture and natural features along the route. To the south of Petrockstowe Halt, Devon Wildlife Trust have now opened Meeth Quarry Nature Reserve. This exciting nature reserve can be accessed directly from the Tarka Trail. As the site continues to develop we think it will become a ‘must see’ destination.

A new 34-page comprehensiveTarka Trail Guide is due to be published in April 2015.


Tarka Trail: Circular Routes has been produced to encourage walkers to venture further on to the Tarka Trail in North Devon. This booklet promotes 11 circular walks along easy to followway-marked loops that take people off the beaten track into wildlife rich landscapes and remote villages and hamlets.

For further information please contact the North Devon Biosphere


Kids on the TrailDSC_2631

Barricane Beach

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

9650526771233Situated 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.


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. Barricane Burial




Lee Bay

Lee Bay is a small village a few miles from the bustling tourist areas of Woolacombe and Mortehoe known by many as Fuchsia Valley. Lee is a pretty stone built village with fuchsia lined pathways and gardens. Lee Bay Beach is a rocky beach, ideal for rockpooling. The beach itself has a concrete channel running down the centre of it, which carries fresh water from the valley into the sea. The cove at Lee Bay, used to receive coal and limestone from Wales, the limestone was burnt locally to produce quicklime which was frequently used in fields and in brick mortar.

Like much of this coastline, Lee saw its fair share of smugglers. The most well known local smuggler to Lee Bay, was Hannibal Richards, who moved to Lee in 1789, described as being six foot tall, with long black hair, he and his wife lived at a local farm. Hannibal had moved to Devon from Cornwall where he had been a member of a notorious gang of smugglers called the Cruel Coppinger’s Gang. It was not long before he returned to his ways, and despite being known to the local authorities he managed to avoid any convictions. He is believed to have stopped his ‘smuggling career’ following a raid which saw the other members of his gang captured, he managed to escape.

Today, Lee is a pretty village with plenty to see. It was developed in 1871 by a Mr Smith, his foreman was responsible for adding all the herringbone walls and planting fuchsias, which is now what the village is famed for.  The village centre is a short walk from the sea, linked by both a road and pathway. The centre marked by St Matthews Church, The Grampus Inn and the old Post Office.


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