North Devon is better for surfing. There are the three main beaches that people head for. These are Woolacombe Bay, Saunton Sands and Croyde Bay. North Devon tends to have wild weather conditions, hence the better surfing-waves. South Devon is better if you want a more sedate Mediterranean climate.
Is North or South Devon better? This is the question.
The North Devon coast is exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean. The prolonged surge of dramatic waves has carved out the rugged coastline of North Devon. There are smaller beaches along the coast of North Devon but the beaches of Woolacombe and Saunton Sands are better if you’re looking for a long beach walk. Woolacombe beach is about 3 miles long while the beach at nearby Saunton Sands stretches for three-and-a-half miles.
North Devon is seen by most as being bleak and rugged but this has its own attractions. The high cliffs and scenery that comes with it, are worth the effort of the visit provided you wear appropriate clothing.
My own experience of the North Devon coast is that, apart from the scenery and long beach walks, the air is much better as it comes straight in from the Irish sea, where there is no local pollution from any traffic or industry.
So, we can take it that the North Devon Coast, albeit bracing, is better if you seek fresh air and fancy doing a spot of surfing on the high rollers that come in from the North Atlantic.
Contrast North Devon with the tame, and almost sedentary, South Devon coast-line, where the climate is, generally, better for those who want to lounge around on a sandy and sunny beach.
The South Devon coastline has a much better selection of smaller beaches that tend to be more secluded. They are sheltered from the winds that make the North Devon coastline more dramatic by the mass of land and hills that rest between North and South Devon.
Which has the better coastal footpaths?
Then we look at the coastal paths. This is one of the reasons why many people visit North and South Devon coastal regions. It’s fair to say that any coastal footpath is worth taking a walk along. To have views of the sea at all times together with the fresh sea air that comes with it, is something that makes any walk special.
But separating out which is better between North or South Devon is a pointless exercise because both check all the boxes for having everything that a coastal footpath should have.
Which has the better weather, North or South?
Generally, you can expect the weather on the South coast of Devon to be better than that of the North of the county but no one should be surprised about anything when it comes to the weather.
There are times when the entire South West Peninsula is drenched with rain, North and South. We then have the question of which of the North and South regions have the better facilities to run to when the heavens open.
One thing you can do that can help to deal with a wet day, is to take a trip on one of the local railways. Devon has railways near both the North and South coast. South Devon has the Dartmouth steam rail and you may want to take a ride on the tramway at Seaton.
North Devon has heritage trains which run on a narrow gauge track, from Lynton to Barnstaple. While you’re at Lynton, take a trip on the Lynton to Lynmouth cliff-railway to complete the theme of railway journeys in Devon.
Other activities for a rainy day might include a visit to heritage houses. One of these includes Greenway in South Devon, the home of Agatha Christie. In North Devon you could visit Arlington Court, a stately home of the Regency period. Here, you could spend a wet afternoon looking at the collection of carriages displayed at Arlington Court.
Both North and South Devon are well equipped with aquaria. In wet weather, most people tend to gravitate to the aquarium, if there is one. North Devon has an aquarium in Ilfracombe. If you’re in South Devon, make your way to the national marine aquarium at Plymouth.
South Devon appears to have more facilities that will keep you entertained during wet weather. There are a number of below-ground attractions. There is Kents Caverns where, thousands of years ago, hunter-gatherers used to frequent. Then there are the Beer Quarry Caves. These aren’t ancient caves; they’ve been recently created for the quarrying of stone for buildings, including churches, throughout the land.
In North Devon and South Devon we’ll always have something worth visiting. If you get the chance to visit both, there will be something about these two regions that you will remember and keep with you.
North or South Devon?
What people think.
“North Devon, I believe, has the best coastline and countryside. It’s better for those who want to go for a walk and the long beaches of Woolacombe and Saunton Sands provide excellent surf. South Devon is better if you have small children because there is a much better selection of entertainment to keep children occupied. There are farm parks with plenty to amuse children in South Devon. The roads around South Devon are easier to travel on, compared to North Devon.”
“I prefer North Devon because I specifically like Combe Martin because of the beach and the local wildlife and Dinosaur Park. North Devon is much quieter and less busy than South Devon where there is much more commercialisation. South Devon appears to attract a bigger crowd of people.”
“There is plenty to attract visitors to North Devon and South Devon but don’t forget there is an East Devon which has the World Heritage Jurassic Coast.”
“Ilfracombe, on the North Devon coast, reminds me of a Northern seaside because of the amusement arcades and pubs. Croyde beach is one of the best beaches but you need to watch out for the rip tides, however there are lifeguards on patrol through the summer. The only downside of North Devon is that there are not so many farm parks compared to South Devon.”