Whether you are a seasoned twitcher or just want to see what birds you can spot over the next few months, North Devon is a wonderful destination. Not only is it home to the south west’s biggest puffin colony, but you’ll also find a host of wading birds, sea birds and birds of prey, as well as your regular variety of garden birds.

If you fancy a break where you can easily enjoy some birdwatching, here are some of our top suggestions for places to stay.

Birdwatching spot 1: Braunton Burrows

As a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the area of Braunton Burrows is the best destination for seeing wildlife in its natural habitat. The burrows themselves are one of the largest sand dune systems in the UK and is home to a host of birds, including night heron, spoonbill, spotted flycatchers and bitten among others.

Elsewhere in the reserve is Crow Point, which is the most southerly tip of the burrows and is popular with bird watchers. This is a good spot for migrating birds and provides a good spot for enjoying the views across Instow and Appledore.

Nearby places to stay:

You can combine your birdwatching break with some watersports at one of the best loved surfing beaches in the region, which is just a stone’s throw from Braunton Burrows and one of the best places to stay for this is Saunton Sands Hotel.  As a flagship of the Brend Hotel Collection, Saunton Sands Hotel provides all the comfort and luxury you would come to expect from Brend. As well as having an enviable position right on the beach, the hotel also has a host of facilities, including a spa, gym and even children’s clubs, so you can have a break too.

Another nearby spot is the Croyde Bay Resort, which also gives you easy access to Braunton Burrows, while also having its own private path to Croyde Beach, which falls within the UK’s Surf Reserve. The Croyde Bay Resort is a great option if you want a choice – not only are there several properties to choose from, including the only hotel in Croyde, but there are designated dog-friendly properties and several facilities on site too.

Where to stay for a birdwatching break

Image: Croyde Bay Resort

If you’re looking for an accessible place to stay, check out the Braunton Accessible Bungalow from Saunton Beach Villas. This converted accessible bungalow sleeps four and has been designed with wheelchair and mobility aids in mind. It is also conveniently located for anyone wanting to spend time at Braunton Burrows. 

For a self-catering option, check out Holidays in Croyde, which gives you the option to explore Braunton Burrows and also spend time in the popular village of Croyde. With a vast collection of holiday homes in their portfolio, you can easily find something that suits your needs and budget, whether you want somewhere to just lay your head or you’d prefer something more indulgent with your own hot tub. There is something for everyone here.  Another nearby option is Willingcott Valley Holiday Village, which is closer to Woolacombe and has seemingly unlimited countryside surroundings, so you can even spot a couple of birds close to home!

Or for those of you travelling with children, why not book a stay with Parkdean’s Ruda Holiday Park? Located close to Braunton Burrows and on the edge of Croyde Bay, you can find comfortable accommodation with easy access to the nature reserve and a host of family-friendly facilities, like soft play, water slides and more – perfect for keeping the kids entertained while you note down which birds you’ve spotted on your travels.

Bird watching spot 2: Isley Marsh

As an RSPB site, Isley Marsh is one of the region’s go-to spots for seeing birds of all kinds. It is made up of a salt marsh and sits on the edge of the Taw Torridge Estuary within a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It’s a particularly popular spot for ducks, waders and similar species and with the Tarka Trail running alongside it, it’s an easy place to explore while out and about.

Nearby places to stay:

Isley Marsh isn’t far from the picturesque villages of Appledore and Instow, which are some of our favourite places to catch the sunset, as well as being a good spot for staying while birdwatching. Appledore in particular is a wonderful place to stay, especially with its pretty colourful houses and maritime history which can be seen around every corner. Catboat Cottage is even said to have been partially made using old ship timbers! This isn’t the only historic feature of this lovingly restored cottage, which provides a home-from-home for your birdwatching adventures. 

Isley Marsh is also close to the pretty village of Westward Ho!, where you can find a host more self-catering accommodation including options from Beachside Holiday Park. Located right on the seafront and with easy access to Isley Marsh and spectacular views, you can choose between everything from caravans to luxury apartments. 

Fancy a hotel stay? The Royal Hotel is in the heart of Bideford and is located on the Tarka Trail route – making it ideal for anyone wanting to visit Isely Marsh. The hotel is well known not only for its comfortable rooms but also for its award-winning menus and free access to all the facilities available at the Leisure Club.

Where to stay for a birdwatching break

Image: The Royal Hotel 

Birdwatching spot 3: Lundy Island

We can’t mention birdwatching in North Devon and not include Lundy Island – home to the south west’s largest puffin colony, as well as an array of other species. Its name in fact is Norse for Puffin Island! Unlike other sites, there is always something to find all year round here, with thousands of bird species passing through depending on the season.  Just off the coast off North Devon, Lundy Island can be reached by catching the ferry from either Ilfracombe or Bideford and is a wonderful place to visit if you love nature and wildlife. As a marine conservation centre, it is also a great place to spot seals, dolphins and porpoises.

Nearby places to stay:

Did you know you can stay on Lundy Island? That’s right, it isn’t just for day trips! The Landmark Trust look after several self catering properties, as well as areas that are designated for camping and even a  Georgian villa – so there are a couple of different options. Just be aware that there is no internet or electricity on the island, it is the perfect place for a digital detox!

Alternatively, book a stay in Ilfracombe or Bideford, where you can grab the ferry over to the island. For somewhere private with incredible views, take a look at Beach Cove Coastal Retreats in Ilfracombe which are cute, and quirky and have their own private hot tubs.

Another self-catering option is Robin Hill Farm Cottages on the outskirts of Bideford and just three miles from the beach at Westward Ho! Converted from former barns, the cottages all have their own well equipped kitchen and plenty of space – you can even spot a few birds while out and about exploring the farm!

Birdwatching spot 4: Morthoe

Well, we say Morthoe, which falls within the North Devon Natural Landscape (also known as AONB), but what we mean is the coastal path that goes through the village. Particuarly the route between Mortehoe and Bull Point Lighthouse and down towards Rockham Bay where you can often spot rare birds at times of migration, as well as occasionally seals! It’s also a popular spot for kestrels, buzzards and other birds of prey.

Nearby places to stay:

There are fewer places to stay with as stunning a location as the Watersmeet Hotel, which sits right on the coast with views across Woolacombe Bay and Combesgate Beach. As a boutique hotel, the Watersmeet gives you all the comfort of a big chain, while keeping the atmosphere and familiarity of a smaller property. Plus, there is an onsite spa and an award-winning restaurant, so you can reward yourself with a pamper session after exploring the coast path!

Where to stay for a birdwatching break

Image: Watersmeet Hotel 

Where are your favourite places to spot birds across North Devon? Let us know! 




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