North Devon & Exmoor
Home to Britain’s first new-Style Biosphere Reserve
Over 3,000 hectares of the North Devon landscape, including Braunton Burrows, have recently been recognised by UNESCO as Britain’s first new-style Biosphere Reserve – an area of international importance because of its diversity and abundance of rare plants and continuous human use from ancient times.
Although there are 400 other Biosphere Reserves worldwide, it is the first in Britain and likely to be the only one in the South West. Together with nine other areas in the UK, the Burrows had previously held the status but a recent review introduced new criteria integrating nature protection and human activities.
With the Burrows at its core, the reserve stretches out to include Braunton Marshes and Great Field, Northam Burrows, the Taw and Torridge Estuary, Croyde Dunes and Kipling Tors.
Braunton Burrows are 4 miles by 2 miles of sand dunes which border Saunton beach, they were used in World War 2 for training for the D Day landings now they have recently been recognised by UNESCO as Britain’s first new-style Biosphere Reserve – an area of international importance because of its diversity and abundance of rare plants and continuous human use from ancient times. The excellence of the environment is reflected throughout North Devon and Exmoor from the safe, sandy award winning Blue Flag beaches to the lush valleys and sparkling streams of Tarka country between the Taw and Torridge Rivers. It even extends twelve miles offshore to Lundy Island – a haven for wildlife and Marine Nature Reserve.
Experience the Biosphere’s Natural Qualities
North Devon and Exmoor’s natural qualities of are best appreciated by taking part in outdoor activities, particularly walking. Guided walks through the North Devon Biosphere are currently only available through West Country Walks who also offer packages and individually tailored walking breaks. (for details Tel: 01271 883131, www.westcountrywalks.co.uk).
Action & Adventure
The challenging but beautiful section of the South West Coast Path which passes through the area provides magnificent views of the coast and countryside views; it embraces steep, rugged ‘hogs-back’ cliffs including the highest in England, Great Hangman, which rises to around 800ft. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2003, the path is the UK’s longest national trail at 630 miles.
North Devon’s varied landscape and excellent environment provides the perfect backdrop for a day’s sport. Visitors can try their hand at coastal activities such as kite-surfing, surf-skiing, sea-kayaking, sand yachting and kite buggying as well as more traditional fishing, surfing, rock climbing and diving; tuition is generally available for the less experienced.
There are also numerous golf courses, facilities for bike hire and riding stables.
For outdoor enthusiasts the 180-mile long distance Tarka Trail is best explored by bike or on foot as it follows the route of an old railway track through wooded valleys and beside meandering rivers. It links into the West Country Way (National Cycle Network, route three) which passes through Devon and Exmoor on its way from Padstow to Bristol. In addition there’s to be a new ‘Coast to Coast’ cycle route from Ilfracombe to Plymouth and new trails are being planned within the ‘Ruby Country’ around Holsworthy and Hatherleigh