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Northam Burrows Country Park

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Northam Burrows Country Park
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 09 Jul 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Devon, Westward Ho!
Walk Type: Coastal
Northam Burrows Country Park
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 3.5 miles easy and circular trail along the North Devon coast within the Northam Burrows Country Park. Northam Burrows, just on the outskirts of Westward Ho!, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is about 253 hectares of grassy coastal plain with salt marsh, sand dunes and generally unimproved grasslands. The walk starts along the edge of the pebble beach and then follows the mouth of the Taw Torridge Estuary around to the west before turning inland to cross the Burrows back to the start.

The walk is almost entirely flat, and there are no stiles or gates. The surfaces are a mixture of sand dunes and grassy marshes. The marshes can be quite wet underfoot and after periods of rain you will need to stride over the drainage ditches as part of the return leg. There are free roaming Exmoor Ponies and sheep on the Burrows so take care with dogs. The centre of the Burrows is a golf course and you will need to cross a couple of fairways on the return leg so watch out for golf balls. There are toilets available at the information centre near the start of the walk. Approximate time 1.5 to 2 hours.

The walk starts from the Northam Burrows Country Park car park on the outskirts of Westward Ho! In the summer months and holiday season there is a charge to enter the park (£4.50 per car per day in July 2012) so you will need to pay at the huts on the entrance roads into the park. The car park barriers are locked at 6pm in winter and 10pm in summer. Approximate post code EX39 1XS.

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Walk Sections

Start to Taw Estuary Mouth
Start to Taw Estuary Mouth

Start point: 51.0527 lat, -4.2297 long
End point: 51.0646 lat, -4.2211 long

From the car park, stand facing the high pebble ridge, and walk towards it. Turn right immediately before it to follow the sandy path with the ridge to the left. Pass by Sandymere, the small inland saltwater mere on the right. Continue ahead passing through some wooden posts, on the sandy path as it climbs onto the sand dunes ahead.

The dunes are formed by wind-blown sand. Sand on the beach dries out at low tide and is blown inland where it accumulates at the top of the beach causing dunes to form. Woodlice and Ants share the dunes with Common Lizard and Cinnabar Moths. Large holes can be seen where badgers have taken up a residence with smaller burrows being made by rabbits. Sections of the dunes are fenced for coastal protection which provides a haven for ground nesting birds such as Wheatears and Skylarks.

From here you can enjoy views over the beach to the left and over the country park with its sheep and ponies to the right. Soon you will be running alongside the golf course on the right and you will begin to pick up the marker posts of the coastal path with the acorn symbol.

Continue north until you reach the mouth of the Taw Torridge Estuary ahead.

Taw Estuary Mouth to Peninsula
Taw Estuary Mouth to Peninsula

Start point: 51.0646 lat, -4.2211 long
End point: 51.0613 lat, -4.2088 long

Follow the dunes as they swing to the right away from the sea. There are a couple of benches along this section if you wish to use them to admire the views across the estuary.

Northam Burrows was once used to raise rabbits because the land was not suitable for growing crops, providing the site with its name. Nowadays the land is grazed by sheep and horses. The Burrows is common land and still actively grazed by the 'Potwallopers' of the ancient manor of Northam. The rights of common are to graze 1200 sheep and 100 horses plus the right to ‘air and exercise’ which is taken as the right of pedestrian access.

Follow this stretch along the estuary out to the top of the peninsula ahead.

Peninsula to Stone Bridge
Peninsula to Stone Bridge

Start point: 51.0613 lat, -4.2088 long
End point: 51.052 lat, -4.2106 long

Here you are forced to follow the dunes path as it swings right with an area of inland water over to the left. Follow the edge of the banks as they swing right and then left to pass alongside a gate into another parking area.

Continue straight ahead down the narrow tarmac lane. Eventually you will pass under a power line and then a few paces later you will see a stone bridge ahead on the left.

Stone Bridge to End
Stone Bridge to End

Start point: 51.052 lat, -4.2106 long
End point: 51.0524 lat, -4.2269 long

Do not cross the stone bridge, instead turn sharp right to follow the grass path directly across the marshes. Keep to the left of the old concrete foundations and head across the Burrows heading for the lifeguard station just visible on the horizon ahead.

Pick up the fairly obvious grass paths across the marshes, striding over the drainage ditches to avoid getting wet feet. 15 miles of drainage ditches criss-cross the Burrows to drain the grassland which improves it for grazing and golf.

The last section of the path will take you over a couple of the fairways of the golf course, so be sure to watch out for flying golf balls and allow the golfers to play their shots before you cross.

The Burrows is home to the golf course of the Royal North Devon Golf Club. Historically it is the oldest links course in England and the Royal North Devon has the oldest ladies club in the world.

You will emerge back to the car park alongside the lifeguard station.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "Northam Burrows Country Park"

Start Walk from Burrows car park

By johngridleys on 2015-09-30 21:10:23

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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