We all know that North Devon has some of the best beaches in Britain and that the coastline forms part of the UK’s surf reserve but did you know they are also great for beachcombing?


For those who aren’t in the know, beachcombing involves combing the beach, particularly the shoreline and any rock pools to see what treasures you can find. You can find a host of unusual items, with everything from fossils to historical artefacts to gem stones and sea glass being common items discovered among the sand, pebbles and rocks. This time of year is great for beachcombing because the rougher weather washes more exciting things onto the beach – some stones that arrive on North Devon’s beaches come all the way from places like the Caribbean!


Here are some of the things you can expect to find while beachcombing in North Devon


  • Fossils
  • Mermaid’s purses
  • Shells
  • Sea Glass

The most coveted items are fossils and sea glass – which often comes from old bottles or jars and have been weathered into pretty pebble sized objects that have come from ships or litter. Some bits of sea glass that you can find date all the way back to the Roman times – really! Glass is one of the oldest man made materials and you can even find it naturally occurring from volcanic action or lightning strikes. Today, seaglass is a popular adornment to rings, necklaces and other jewellery and you can find several local jewellers creating pieces with seaglass discovered on North Devon’s beaches.


So, now you know what you might find, let’s look at where you might find them!


The beaches to explore


  • Barriacane Beach
  • Blacklands Beach
  • Broad Sands
  • Bucks Mills
  • Combe Martin Beach
  • Combesgate Beach
  • Croyde Bay
  • Hele Bay
  • Lee Bay
  • Putsborough Sands
  • Watermouth
  • Westward Ho!
  • Woolacombe Beach


We recommend starting out on Barricane Beach, it’s known locally as Shell Beach and you can often find interesting shells and fossils from far flung places there. It’s a good place to begin as you’re likely to pick up a few things here to get your collection started! Combe Martin beach also usually offers good pickings, especially after a storm or some rough weather.


So, you know where to go and what you might find, here’s what you’ll need for a successful day out beachcombing.


  • Sensible shoes, we recommend wellies or something that is water proof and non slip
  • A camera, to capture those larger pieces you won’t be able to take with you
  • Wear warm clothes
  • Magnifying glass
  • Pen knife
  • Hand gel


Beachcombing can be a fun activity and is a great way to enjoy a day out in North Devon on a budget – it’s also a fun way to help keep our coasts clean. Just remember to beachcombe responsibly with these guidelines:


  • Remember it is unlawful to take any natural materials from any beach in the UK, it isn’t illegal to take driftwood or sea shells but these are essential to the local wildlife, so be aware when collecting.
  • Don’t be greedy, leave things for other beachcombers to find!
  • Stay safe, check tide times and the weather before heading out, wear sensible clothes and make sure to tell others where you are going. Keep a mobile phone to hand at all times in case you need to contact anyone and pay attention to local signage.
  • Pick up any litter you come across and make sure to take everything you bring with you home again.


Now all there is left to do is head out and enjoy a spot of beachcombing in North Devon.