Explore the North Devon Coast with the help of a new website

A new website, pioneered by the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has just been launched to promote the fantastic natural assets of the North Devon coastal area. The AONB spans from Welcombe to Combe Martin – a tall order to explore easily until now. Explore the Coast website highlights not only just how much there is to see and do, but how to do so with your own personalised itinerary, without spending a penny or getting in the car.

The website www.explorethecoast.org opens up new avenues for tourism, with easy to use facilities to discover very best spots for scenery, nature and history, all at the click of a mouse. This dedicated website aims to inspire both local residents and visitors alike to follow the road less travelled, leave the car behind and explore the coast around them.

The large majority of information is designed to be accessed via a Googlemap, with hundreds of points of interest detailing great views, historic and natural features of the landscape as well as showing cycleways, the South West Coast Path and permissive paths and Public Rights of Way. The website also includes themed interpretation guides, family-friendly resources and links to related websites and downloads. It’s something to delight all ages, interests and help people find new ways to get outside and explore our outstanding coastal landscape.

Clever free tools contained within the site allow users to create tailored itineraries to suit individual interests and preferred activities. Accommodation providers and other organisations can also use this tool to create their own tours for customers, branded with their own details.

At the launch, TDC Cllr Brian Redwood said, “This website is absolutely excellent and will be a great asset for visitors, residents and local communities to explore the North Devon Coastal area. It has great potential for visitors, residents and local business use as it pulls together so much information on the local area in a very accessible way.”

The website was pioneered as a result of focus groups with small businesses from the tourism industry held about three years ago who highlighted the need of visiting families to spend part of their holiday local to their accommodation. Whilst visitors like the beaches and theme parks, exploring the natural environment local to their accommodation was also important. There was clearly a need for activities they could do for free and without having to use their cars.

Linda Blanchard, North Devon Coast Manager, commented “This inspiring project is astonishing in its depth and breadth of information, its use of cutting edge technology whilst being very user friendly. From a ‘light touch’ information source to a detailed report on a subject of special interest, this website has incorporated it all. The website will be ideal for visitors and residents who wish to enjoy the North Devon Coast and learn more about its special qualities.”

The AONB and many of their partners had access to large amounts of research done by academic institutions and local researchers which was potentially of immense interest to visitors and the local community, but currently locked up in dry databases and reports available in a technical format. This added layer of information, previously unavailable, has been skilfully incorporated into the website.

Explore the Coast Project Officer Clare Manning said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to explore the hidden treasures of North Devon and a great asset to the local community including schools and community groups. Both locals and visitors to the area will undoubtedly discover many things they never knew before!

Special access has also been created to allow members of the community to contribute their knowledge to the site, together with review functions for people to comment their thoughts on every location on the map.

Anne Hulbert, from Westward Ho! Community History Project commented that, “It is really excellent to have so much information finally in one place. This is something history groups like us will also be able to contribute information towards on our own areas to share with those interested in the area.”

Northam Burrows Countryside Manager, Shawn Corrin also added that, “This website is fantastic and long overdue. There is so much in this area to explore, see, enjoy and appreciate and this website pulls it all together for all interests. We have such a wealth of heritage and wildlife right here on our doorstep and I look forward to contributing information for the section on Westward Ho!”

Training events are currently being scheduled across the AONB – so if you are a community organisation or tourist provider and would like to know more about making the most of the site please contact clare.manning@devon.gov.uk or phone 01237 423655.

The Explore the Coast project is funded through the Leader4 programme and delivered with Defra as the Managing Authority. The Project is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for European Development 2007-2013: Europe investing in rural areas.