Wembury Beach is often seen as a rockpooler’s beach. It certainly is one of the best places for rock-pooling in South Devon, but there is more to this beach than that. It is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with spectacular views all around. There are great walks along the coast in either direction, and a safe, sandy beach to enjoy.
The National Trust own Wembury Point and The Mewstone. Lots of people still don’t realise how common it is for the National Trust to maintain beach spaces. They have helped to create better access to the beach, and they look after and maintain the car park and cafe. All this came about after a successful fund-raising campaign in 2005. Since then, The National Trust has promised to maintain the area, and help make it free for people to visit. They have opened up all the coast paths and helped to clean up the area, including the demolishing of some military buildings. As this area is maintained by the National Trust, car parking is free to members.
Given a free choice of things to do at a beach, my children would have a top five of rock-climbing, beach-art, rock-pooling, wave-jumping and ice-cream eating. We managed to do all of these at Wembury. There were some great rocks to climb, so my children were straight up these. We then collected some shells and made a beach-art picture. Next, we had to check out Wembury’s famous rock-pools. Throughout the day, rock pool safari tours are organised by the marine conservation centre. These are incredibly popular, and scores of children can be seen following the guides to search amongst the rock-pools. We decided to have the freedom to explore on our own. What we lacked in expertise we hoped to make up for with enthusiasm. We like to watch quietly and spot signs of life in the rock-pools, but we don’t like to lift rocks or disturb the wildlife.
When the tide is low, Wembury is perfect for a paddle and some wave-jumping. The beach slopes gently and there is lots of sand underfoot. There were lots of surfers further out, but still plenty of room along the shoreline for everyone to have a good time. I did promise my children an ice-cream, but only on the condition that we went for a walk first. I wanted to check out the dog beach further round the coast path. We visited before May, when dogs are still allowed on the main beach, but I knew that between May and September they are only allowed on a small cove around the coast. The walk was beautiful, but I was underwhelmed by the small space where dogs are allowed. I imagine it might get quite full of canine friends in the Summer months. After re-tracing our steps, we came back to the small cafe. There was a place for drinks and snacks and a separate place for ice-creams. I enjoyed a raspberry pavlova ice-cream, which was just as tasty as it sounds.
Out to sea sits the iconic Mewstone, a triangular grass-covered rock. Seabirds make their home on it now, but it was once home to some real local characters. The first inhabitant of the small island was a criminal who was sentenced to seven years on the island, then liked it so much he stayed on and raised a family there. In the 1800’s, another criminal made his home there when he was sent to the rock, instead of Australia. He built a house and garden, but was made to leave the island when he was caught smuggling.
This wasn’t our first visit to Wembury, but we hadn’t been for a couple of years, and it was like visiting an old friend. It is a beach which has everything, safe paddling, soft sand, a small cafe and a sparkling stream. It also has magnificent views. The only reasons that we don’t visit more often is that it is tricky to get to. Whichever direction you travel from, the journey is confusing and badly signposted. Sat-navs send you down some narrow farm tracks and you often end up doubling back on yourself. This aside, Wembury is a near-perfect family beach, with everything an adventurous beach-loving family can enjoy.
Stay in a Devon holiday cottage and spend an afternoon on Wembury beach.