Combe Martin, Exmoor National Park

Combe Martin, Exmoor National Park

Where Exmoor National Park meets the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Combe Martin is a village on the western border of Exmoor where National Park runs into the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Perfect for a beach holiday, watersports and outdoor activities. The local area is packed with visitor attractions and things to do. Great Devon location. [Main photo is Combe Martin coastline. Watermouth Cove in foreground to Combe Martin to Little Hangman and Great Hangman. Heddon's Mouth and the tip of Foreland Point are beyond.]

 

Best things to do in Combe Martin

To help you choose Combe Martin, we've listed some of the local attractions below.

 

Beaches

Combe Martin Beach. A sand, shingle and rock beach in an exquisite location below high cliffs. Very popular with families. The Fo'c'sle is the local pub and sits behind Combe Martin Beach. Local shops sell buckets and spades etc.

Newbury Beach. There's a second, smaller beach next to Combe Martin Beach known locally as Newbury Beach. 

Wild Pear Beach. Beautiful, secluded sand, shingle and rock beach just east of Combe Martin. You have to walk in on the South West Coast Path and then drop down on a zig-zag path. Note that the latter is visible on Google maps so check out their satellite imagery when planning your visit. It takes a bit of effort to get to the beach but nothing too strenuous.

Broadsands Beach (also referred to as Broad Strand Beach). Amazing place. Very steep steps take you down to a sand and stone beach below vertical cliffs. Local signs say it's owned by nearby Watermouth Valley Camping Park.

Watermouth Cove. One of the most photographed beaches in this part of the Westcountry. Stunning place but focused on sailing.

 

Coastal walking

South West Coast Path east of Combe Martin into Exmoor National Park. We'd recommend the coastal path on either side of Heddon's Mouth. The Hunters Inn sits at the bottom of Heddon's Mouth Cleave if you want a pub lunch. See our Best Exmoor SWCP/South West Coast Path Walking listing for more information.

South West Coast Path west of Combe Martin into the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The walk from Combe Martin to Ilfracombe is stunning.

Tarka Trail. This is a huge 180 mile route connecting Exmoor, North Devon, Mid Devon and Dartmoor. Walk a section on Exmoor's high moor. Refer to the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL9 Exmoor map for detail.

 

Watersports

Surfside Kayak Hire in Combe Martin. Holiday in Combe Martin and you'll see people sea kayaking from the beaches around the village. Hire a sea kayak from Surfside Kayak Hire. Note that they also run guided kayak tours.

Outdoor Shop and Kayak Centre in Combe Martin. Alternatively, hire sea kayaks or stand up paddle boards from the Outdoor Shop and Kayak Centre in Combe Martin. They also run guided kayak and stand up paddle board tours.

Jet Ski Safari from the Watermouth Cove Holiday Park area near Combe Martin. 'North Devon's only jet ski safari.'

Sea kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing and coasteering with Active Escape from the Watermouth Cove Holiday Park area near Combe Martin.

Sea kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing and coasteering with Exmoor Adventures.

 

Visitor attractions

Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park. Award-winning family attraction on the outskirts of Combe Martin. A mix or wildlife, dinosaurs and play areas. Great day out.

Exmoor Zoo. Superb zoo located by the west border of Exmoor National Park. Follow the A399 from Ilfracombe to meet over 600 animals in a 15 acre site.

Watermouth Castle. Family theme park and castle between Combe Martin and Ilfracombe on the North Devon coast.

The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway. 'Reopened in 2004 this is the UK's longest-closed section of railway to be reopened by volunteers and is only the first stage in rebuilding this much-loved railway that once ran between Lynton and Barnstaple.' Trains run between Woody Bay Station and Killington Lane Halt. A two mile round trip on Exmoor.

Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway. Take a trip on the exceptionally popular water powered funicular cliff lift. The views from up top are amazing. Lynmouth Pavilion National Park Centre is at the bottom.

Further away, the West Somerset Railway. Runs from the east border of Exmoor at Minehead and then Dunster to Bishops Lydeard below the Quantock Hills. Super family attraction.

National Trust's Arlington Court and the National Trust Carriage Museum. Major Devon National Trust property just off the A39. Big gardens very popular with families.

 

Wildlife

Combe Martin Wildlife & Dinosaur Park. Wildlife includes lions, wolves and sea lions.

Exmoor Zoo. '175 species. Over 600 animals.' Animals include black leopard, cheetahs and monkeys.

Adventure Falconry. Handle and fly birds of prey.

Exmoor ponies. These native British ponies roam the high moor and surrounding countryside. Also meet and ride Exmoor ponies at The Exmoor Pony Centre. Located near Dulverton.  'Enjoy the feeling of freedom riding our special ponies on the windswept moor where you could glimpse wild ponies and Exmoor wildlife.'

Red deer. Exmoor National Park is famous for its red deer and ponies. Some of the deer herds are huge and seriously impressive.

To increase the likelihood of seeing red deer and ponies, book a trip with Exmoor SafariExmoor Barle Valley Wildlife Safaris or Red Stag Safari.

 

Beauty spots

Little Hangman/Great Hangman. Follow the South West Coast Path east and you come to Great Hangman on top of huge cliffs. Immense views.

Heddon's Mouth Cleave/Heddon's Mouth Beach. The views from the cliffs west and east of Heddon's Mouth Beach are stunning.

Broad Strand Beach (also referred to as Broad Strand Beach). Amazing beach and location west of Combe Martin.

Watermouth Cove. As mentioned above, one of the most photographed beaches in this part of the Westcountry.

 

Moorland

Exe Head. The Two Moors Way, Tarka Trail and Macmillan Way West all pass by the headwaters of the River Exe on high, remote moorland. There are car parking areas on the B3223 from which you can explore this section of the National Park. Refer to the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL9 Exmoor map for detail.

Doone Valley. We'd also recommend heading east from those car parking areas along the B3223 to Doone Valley.

Dunkery Beacon. Wander up to the cairn topping the highest point on Exmoor.

 

Pretty villages and hamlets

Trentishoe. Just west of The Hunters Inn and Heddon's Mouth and close to a superb section of the South West Coast Path.

Martinhoe. Just east of The Hunters Inn and Heddon's Mouth and close to a superb section of the South West Coast Path. Also near the beaches at Woody Bay and Lee Bay.

Lynton/Lynmouth. Classic Westcountry holiday destinations. Visit if on holiday in Combe Martin.

 

Boat trips

Ilfracombe Sea Safari. 'The most exciting way to explore the stunning North Devon coastline and Lundy Island.' Ilfracombe Sea Safari runs a number of trips using two RIBs. These include a 1 Hour Sea Safari, 2 Hour Waterfall & Exmoor Safari to Lynmouth and Lundy Explorer.

Bristol Channel Charters/Ilfracombe Sea Safari. Ilfracombe Sea Safari also run Bristol Channel Charters. 'Our boat can be booked for diving, fishing, sightseeing and private charter from Ilfracombe between April and October.'

Ilfracombe Princess. 'Spectacular wildlife and coastal cruises aboard 'Ilfracombe Princess' one of the most technologically advanced passenger vessels in the UK.' Trips include Seals Cruise and Exmoor Bird Cruise.

Paddle Steamer Waverley. 'Pleasure Steamers have cruised on the Bristol Channel since Victorian days and Waverley carries on this great tradition.' Special trips in the Bristol Channel. They publish sailing times on their websites.

MV Balmoral Excursions. 'Originally built in 1949 and now for over 65 years, the MV Balmoral has been welcoming passengers on board and taking them on spectacular cruises around the great British coastline.' Special trips in the Bristol Channel. Again, they publish sailing times on their websites.

Lundy Island. The MS Oldenburg leaves from either Ilfracombe or Bideford. Depending on the weather, it takes roughly two hours to reach the island. Most people visit on a day trip from mainland Devon. Once you're there, we'd suggest you walk around the island.

Head down to Lynmouth Quay. Boat trip information can be found on The Exmoor Boat Trip sign.

 

Horse riding

Dean Riding Stables. 'Ride out on a quiet or adventurous hack around Exmoor. We have quality well mannered horses and ponies, and offer escorted hacking and instruction for all ages and levels.  Nervous and novice riders are especially welcome.'

 

North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Ilfracombe. One of North Devon's most popular destinations.

Woolacombe. One of the UK's most popular beaches.  Try surfing, sea kayaking and coasteering with H2Outdoor in Woolacombe.