Sandy Cove and Lee Beach

Nestled along the picturesque coastline of Devon, England, Sandy Cove and Lee Beach offer a delightful escape for those seeking natural beauty, tranquillity, and adventure. These hidden gems are perfect for visitors looking to immerse themselves in the serene landscapes of the English Riviera. This article will guide you on how to reach these coastal havens, highlight notable landmarks, detail scenic walks, and provide interesting facts about the area.

Getting to Sandy Cove and Lee Beach

Sandy Cove and Lee Beach are located near the village of Lee, a quaint and charming settlement just a few miles west of Ilfracombe. To get there, you can take the A361 road towards Barnstaple and then follow the A399 towards Ilfracombe. From Ilfracombe, follow the signs for Lee, a short and scenic drive that winds through the verdant countryside, offering glimpses of the stunning coastline as you approach your destination.

Notable Landmarks and Attractions

Once you arrive, you’ll find that both Sandy Cove and Lee Beach are enveloped by captivating landmarks that add to the area’s allure. One of the most intriguing aspects of this area is its rich history of smuggling. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the secluded coves and hidden bays of this coastline provided the perfect cover for smuggling activities. Smugglers would use the natural features of the landscape to hide their contraband, which included goods like tobacco, brandy, and silk, avoiding the heavy taxes imposed by the government.

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One particularly famous smuggler associated with this area was Tom Crocker, a notorious figure whose exploits became the stuff of local legend. It’s said that Crocker and his gang used secret tunnels and hidden caves around Sandy Cove and Lee Beach to store their illicit goods. Some of these tunnels are rumoured to still exist, hidden beneath the picturesque landscape, adding a sense of mystery and adventure to the area. While exploring the cove, visitors might imagine the thrill of the chase as smugglers evaded the authorities, their hidden routes and methods becoming a part of local folklore.

For those interested in geological formations, the unique rock formations at Sandy Cove are a must-see. The cove is known for its striking cliffs and fascinating rock pools that are teeming with marine life. It’s an ideal spot for rock pooling, photography, and simply soaking in the natural beauty of the coastline.

Scenic Walks in the Area

The area surrounding Sandy Cove and Lee Beach is a walker’s paradise, offering a variety of trails that cater to different fitness levels and interests. One of the most popular walks is the Lee Bay to Morte Point trail, part of the South West Coast Path. This trail provides stunning views of the rugged coastline, and if you’re lucky, you might spot seals basking on the rocks or dolphins playing in the surf.

Another delightful walk is the route from Lee Bay to Bull Point Lighthouse. This moderate walk takes you through lush woodlands, open fields, and along dramatic cliff edges, culminating at the historic lighthouse, which has been guiding ships along the coast since 1879. The panoramic views from Bull Point are breathtaking, making it a perfect spot for a picnic or a moment of reflection.

For those looking for a more leisurely stroll, the Lee Valley Walk is ideal. This gentle path meanders through the serene Lee Valley, passing by babbling brooks, verdant meadows, and charming cottages. It’s an excellent way to experience the peaceful countryside and observe local wildlife.

Interesting Facts about the Area

Sandy Cove and Lee Beach are not just about natural beauty; they are steeped in history and interesting anecdotes. As mentioned earlier, the area was once a hotspot for smugglers in the 18th and 19th centuries. The secluded coves and hidden bays provided the perfect cover for smuggling activities, with many tales of hidden treasures and secret tunnels still captivating the imagination of visitors today.

Lee Beach is also renowned for its exceptional water quality and has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag status multiple times. This accolade recognises the beach’s commitment to maintaining high environmental standards and providing a safe and clean environment for visitors.

Moreover, the region is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The coastal path around Lee and Sandy Cove is dotted with colourful wildflowers, particularly in the spring and summer months. You may encounter rare species such as the pink sea thrift or the yellow-horned poppy, adding a splash of colour to your coastal walks. Birdwatchers will also be delighted by the variety of seabirds, including oystercatchers, cormorants, and even the occasional peregrine falcon.

Sandy Cove and Lee Beach offer a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history, and outdoor adventure. Whether you’re exploring the dramatic rock formations, embarking on a scenic coastal walk, or simply relaxing on the pristine beaches, there is something for everyone to enjoy. So pack your walking boots, bring your camera, and get ready to discover the enchanting charms of this idyllic corner of Devon.

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