Lee Bay is a small village on the North Devon coast near Woolacombe and Ilfracombe. The village of Lee lies at the foot of what is known locally as the Fuchsia Valley, and consists of around 100 properties, mostly old in style. Around the bay area are some 10 privately owned properties. Up to the late 1980s, several of these were in use as tea rooms, restaurants and gift shops.
This is a place that I hold very dear to my heart….
My Father spent his childhood years growing up in Ilfracombe, North Devon and then moved to the Surrey area when he went to university. He always had very fond memories of Devon and particularly loved spending time at Lee Bay (having nookie nookie in the sand dunes as he would say!)
He sadly passed away in 2010 from oesophageal cancer, two weeks after diagnosis. He had told us beforehand that he wanted his ashes to be scattered at Lee Bay so it was nice that we could honour that wish.
There used to be a restaurant / hotel called Lee Bay Hotel which unfortunately shut down in 2009, and is now being used by the police as a dog training centre. There’s isn’t really much in terms of accommodation or restaurants around the bay so people tend to visit Lee Bay for scenic hikes, to walk the dog and to climb the rocks (Morte Slates). These rocks appear on the coast to the east of Lee Bay and form the magnificent cliff scenery of Lee Downs and the Torrs.
The beach has a very gentle slope. As the tide goes out an expanse of sand emerges from among the rocks, as does a way through the cliffs westwards round to a large shingle beach called Sandy Cove or Bath Beach. This beach is also accessible from the coastal path via a National Trust maintained path and staircase down the cliff face.
As the tide recedes further it becomes possible to scramble eastwards from Lee Bay over and round rocks and through pools to reach Broadoar, a mainly sandy beach, although it is possible to become trapped by incoming tides.
One time we were having a picnic on the large rocks and a man with some beautiful large husky dogs came over to us to advise that we make a move as the tide was coming in. We started packing up, turned a corner and saw how high the tide had gotten and started to panic. We struggled to get back to the carpark as the water level was so high during parts of our route back. My Mum who can’t swim had to be carried by my sister. We couldn’t see where we were walking so it was very slippery and dangerous. The mobile phones in our pockets ended up broken due to water damage. Luckily we made it back safely and we learnt a valuable lesson – always check tide timings.
Every year my family head to Devon for a few days, we spend a lot of time in Woolacombe which has a nice beach and several eateries and B&Bs. We always set aside one day to visit Lee Bay to place flowers there in memory of my Father. He’ll never be forgotten.