Braunton's surf community and close proximity to a handful of outstanding beaches is undoubtedly its main attraction. Consequently, it’s no surprise that the village is home to the Museum of British Surfing and the streets are dotted with shops offering trendy surf fashion, wetsuits and surfboards! But Braunton has much more to offer in addition to its cool, coastal vibe. The village has an interesting history with medieval spots to visit, including the Great Field, and St Brannock’s Church. From Braunton you can access the Tarka Trail which runs for 180 miles and is brilliant for cycling, and you can easily hop on the South West Coast Path for a day of hiking. There are many places to grab a tasty bite to eat, not to mention a couple of award-winning fish and chips restaurants which you must be sure to visit.
A bustling hub of activity, you can easily spend the morning roaming the charming streets of Braunton and dipping in and out of the local shops and businesses. Begin by visiting the Museum of British Surfing, located in Caen Street Carpark. Step inside and feast your eyes upon what is believed to be the largest collection surfboards in Europe. The museum also has a collection of related memorabilia, prints, publications, and movies so get on down and find out some more about the history of British surfing.
Soften the blow of leaving Braunton behind and treat yourself to something for your home from Kittiwakes, Country Pale or Pure Home. All three shops are beautifully appointed with indoor plants, driftwood decorations, and fragrant candles to name just a few things, so pick up something to remind you of your coastal escape.
Amongst the variety of surf shops including Tiki, Surfed Out and Hunter, you can also find some pre-loved high-end fashion labels at Turnaround Wear. Here the rails are filled with goodies and the shelves are adorned with accessories, jewellery and shoes, you are bound to find something special in this boutique and can also say hello to the resident pooch who is always on his best behaviour! In addition to surf fashion, you can shop for hardware and wetsuits at the local surf shops to get you ready for your time at the beach. At Velator, you can bag a bargain at the Tiki factory store and Saltrock outlet.
Visit Braunton Museum for a wealth of information about Brauntons agricultural, maritime, wartime and social history. Sitting in an old bakehouse, the museum itself holds many a tale of years gone by, lap up the atmosphere and marvel at the working model of the old Railway Station as it was in the 1950s. Should you want to know more, the giftshop has a range of books and DVDs for sale so you can put your feet up at one of our holiday cottages and learn more about this coastal destination.
Not only does Brauntons Great Field have outstanding views, it is also steeped in history and is thought to date back to the 1200s, perhaps earlier! One of only two surviving medieval open field strips in England, you can access the Great Field at several points including Field Lane, and Velator Quay. Whilst roaming the field, see if you can spot clues to its heritage and look out for furlough boundaries and landsherds.
Also a medieval landmark, St Brannock’s Church is a beautiful and striking Church on the outskirts of the village. Listed in the Doomsday Book as one of nine churches in Devon, it is thought to have been of great importance in days gone by. St Brannock himself was a missionary who arrived in Braunton across the Bristol Channel to bring Christianity and improved agriculture to the village. He is thought to have been buried beneath the high altar. Pay the Church a visit, admire its architecture and gorgeous pews, and see if you can find out any more tales of the past.
Hop in the car or make use of the brilliant local bus service and make the 2.5-mile trip to the nearest beach, Saunton Sands, where the surf awaits. If you haven’t already picked up a wetsuit and a board in Braunton, visit Surf Saunton, Walking on Waves, or Saunton Surf Hire to get geared up and ready to ride some waves. Both surf schools and the hire shop are located off the carpark and next to the beach so you can get sorted with ease. If you fancy a private or a group lesson, book in with the friendly and knowledgeable instructors at either school and you’ll be standing up or brushing up your skills in no time.
Renowned surf lies just around the corner at Croyde Bay. Croyde is a must-visit destination for experienced surfers but can also be welcoming to beginners too if you visit one of the local surf schools. You can hire equipment at the Little Pink Surf Shop, as well as at Surf South West, Surfing Croyde Bay and Croyde Surf Academy where you can book lessons, too. Croyde is patrolled daily in the summer by the RNLI.
Slightly further away (6 miles), you can jump in the surf at Putsborough and Woolacombe beach. Putsborough has great shelter from south and south westerly winds and Woolacombe is patrolled daily in summer months by the RNLI. The surf here is perfect for all levels and the local surf shops offer lessons and hire. Visit Nick Thorn Surf School, Barefoot Surf School, Hunter, and Woolacombe Surf Centre for more information and to book lessons.
Most surf schools in Croyde and Woolacombe offer coasteering, and you can hire stand-up paddle boards from most schools in the area.
Stretching 180 miles across north Devon and Exmoor, the Tarka Trail is a great place to walk or cycle in order to explore your fantastic surroundings. Winding its way in a figure of eight around the coast and countryside, marvel at views of the estuary, the sea and the moors. The Tarka Trail is easily accessible from Braunton and you can hop on by Tescos or near the Police Station. With many a good pitstop along the way, plan your route around a lunch stop and refuel for the onward journey. Hire some wheels locally from Otter Cycle Hire and cycle 8 miles to Fremington Quay for a bite to eat (you will want much more than just a bite when you see their cake selection!) or continue on to Instow for a pub lunch. Both destinations have panoramic views across the estuary and are great places to rest your legs before the journey home.
For spectacular views high above the crashing waves and rugged cliffs of the north Devon coastline, hop on the South West Coast Path. Stretching for 630 miles from Minehead to Poole, some of the path’s gems sit close to Braunton. Offering breathtaking views across the undulating waves, there are some great viewpoints over Saunton, or step on the path at Baggy Point and follow the curves of the cliff around to Putsborough. Once the South West Coast Path meets Exmoor National Park, the flora and fauna become exceptional. Heddon’s Mouth, Woody Bay and Valley of The Rocks are truly wonderful starting points for hikes (you’ll need to hop in the car) or can each be beautiful destinations for picnics and wild swims!
Closer to home, march up the hill to Beacon for panoramic views over Braunton and the surrounding landscapes. A great sunset spot, access Beacon from Frog Lane and you won’t be disappointed.