Braunton is situated at the base of a valley between three hills. Chapel Hill, West Hill and East Hill. Chapel Hill and East Hill are mostly privately owned land with public access over them, but West Hill has been donated to the public of Braunton and has been developed into an important woodland habitat for many flora including, bluebells, and orchids as well as fauna such as buzzards, badgers and the Greater Horseshoe Bat. (find out about the Braunton Bat Trail)

Beacon Hill Braunton

West Hill is better known locally as The Beacon, Beacon Hill or Braunton Beacon. This is due to the fact that throughout history the hill was used in conjunction with other hills to house a warning beacon.

The beacon could be used to warn of seaborne invasion or attack from the many invaders Britain has had to defend itself from over the years.

west hill Braunton

The hill has acted as a beacon since Roman times but was most active during the threat from the Spanish Armada is the 16th century.

During World War Two, a concrete gun emplacement was built at the top of the hill to house a Bofors gun which could be used to defend against attacks from the sea or from the sky. The gun was also believed to have been used for training by the American troops who were based in Braunton in 1944 in preparation for D-Day.

Approach to Beacon HillAccess to the hill is from the top of North Street, passing Beacon cottage on West Hill Road. A fairly energetic climb is required up an earth track which can be tricky to negotiate in the wet.

Sailor’s wives used to climb this path and watch from the vantage point at the top of the hill for their husband’s return. When the ship was sighted, they would scurry back down the hill and through the village to meet their husbands – not necessarily to give their husbands a home-coming kiss but to relieve them of most of their wages before they could spend the lot in the Mariner’s Arms!

The hill top is mostly tree covered but contains an abundance of wildlife, flora and fauna. Near to the top of the hill on the westerly side is a view point that takes in The Great Field, The Braunton Burrows and the Taw & Torridge estuary with distant views of Appledore, Hartland and Clovelly.

view of Braunton from Braunton Beacon Hill

The opposite side of the Beacon offers views of East Hill and Chapel Hill. On the top of Chapel Hill you can make out the remains of a chapel that stood on the site where St Brannock built his first chapel. This was later moved down to the foot of the hill where St Brannock’s church stands today. You can just make out the spire poking out above the tree line.

view from Braunton Beacon

Braunton Beacon bat viewing areaBeacon Hill forms part of the Braunton Bat Trail and on the eastern side of the hill is a bat viewing platform, where in the summer months you can look out over the adjacent field and watch Horseshoe bats darting in and out of the trees.

On our Walking Routes pages, we have a circular walk that starts at the Braunton Countryside Centre in the village centre and goes up to the top of the Beacon and back into the village.

View Braunton Beacon walk