If you want body boarding beaches, we’re pretty limited to the south west of the UK, a few in Wales, or a couple of suitable beaches in Suffolk. We’d decided to head back to Devon at the end of the summer, but this time the beaches and weather wasn’t playing ball as well as it had done during our camping trip in July.
You can’t fail to have decent beach days though. I’d hoped that we’d be able to visit Bude to check out the sea pool, but the weather was forecast to be worse there when the tide was out meaning the sea pool wouldn’t be great in the rain. So we decided to stick to the nearer Westward Ho! (I just love the name and the exclamation mark).
I was surpised how quiet the beach was. The first time we visited, it wasn’t the warmest. Lots of people parked in the town centre and stuck close to there, but we decided to park in Northam Burrows Country Park. This was cheaper for the day, and you could leave and return the same day on the same ticket. You get to drive through the golf course and past the ponies and sheep who roam on it, and the country park.
There are toilets in the town or a bit of a walk up to the visitor centre, but we tended to drive up there before heading onto the beach. Then returned to park nearer the lifeguard hut and where the entrance over the stone ridge to the beach was.
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Westward Ho! is a huge beach. Even on our second day there, when it was blue skies and much warmer, it didn’t really get busy where we were. There were plenty of people walking dogs and one surf school was out in the sea. But otherwise, there was plenty of sand for everyone, even when the tide was only just on the turn from high tide.
Unfortunately the surf wasn’t good for N. He can’t go out too far as he’s too small and not strong enough a swimmer against the waves. Even going out to waist height the waves were either breaking too far out for him, or too close to the shallows. So he ddn’t really get to bodyboard and show his dad his skills.
It was nice for me to sit and read my Kindle rather than standing watching in the shallows for ages.
We did quite a bit of walking along the beach. There’s some amazing sand patterns as the tide goes out.
And we had a brief look at the Country Park visitor centre. There’s not a lot there. Just the history of the park, occasional organised walks (there was a bird one due when we were at the beach) and toilets. It’s a shame there wasn’t anywhere to buy hot drinks there which we’d expected. Maybe all the other facilities are in the town.
N did make the most of the beach. He dug an island for us to sit in, filling the moat from the stream by the beach ridge.
It’s obviously a popular surfing beach as lots of families, couples and singles were heading to the beach with boards. I was surprised at how many people looked to be in the sea up near the town centre when the lifeguards were further down where we were. Maybe we’re just risk averse when it comes to the sea. I suppose it makes sense if you’ve small children who need to be back and forth from the toilets and shops. In the country park car park there’s only an ice cream van.
If it was a good surf day, Westward Ho! would be a great beach. No crowds, no seagulls and no people sitting on top of you. It was lovely to finish off the summer holidays with a couple of beach days.
What beaches do you recommend for body boarding (with lifeguards)?
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