Distance: 11.7 miles
Saunton Sands is a vast expanse of stunning golden beach on the north Devon coast. It's a popular spot with sun-seeking families and longboard surfers, and I can see why. It's simply stunning and, even better, its dog-friendly all year round.
There are two routes out of Saunton’s main car park (don't forget change for the ticket machine) - the burrows or the beach. Opting for the latter as it was such a lovely sunny day, the first three-and-a-half miles is along the seemingly never-ending beach with the occasional salt-water tidal pool which gave the dogs the perfect opportunity to cool off by taking a dip. Although flat, the sand was rather soft in places which made it harder to walk, but I just thought of the calories I could burn and swung round to soak in the views on what was a stunning start to the next leg of our mission to walk all 630 miles of The South West Coast Path.
At the end of the beach a slatted wooden catwalk led into the dunes. Rounding the corner at Crow Point, we headed inland towards Braunton Burrows on what seemed like a massive detour to Braunton itself.
Braunton Burrows is one of the UK's largest sand dune systems and, if you look closely, you might be able to spot some of the diverse species that call it home. Inland around Braunton Marshes, a large flat area of pastureland near the mouth of the Taw Torridge estuary.
Reaching the edge of the village of Braunton, there was change to devour a very welcome cold drink and ice cream before hitting the 'road' again.
The Path here is flat and joins the Tarka Trail to follow the line of the former railway track, past Royal Marine base Chivenor, alongside the River Taw all the way down into Barnstaple.
I found this particular section a tad frustrating. It felt like we were going no-where fast, knowing that we still had to do the same trek back out again on the opposite side of the estuary the very next day. I suppose I was comparing to the high cliff walks we’ve already achieved.
But still, it was an easy stretch to tick off some miles and my glutes were thankful for that!