Remarkably, there is a submerged forest amid peat deposits that can be seen around the low water mark at the eastern end of the site (SS 432296) off Westward Ho! slipway, at the southern end of Westward Ho! beach. This provides evidence of sea level rise during the Holocene Period and represents the swamping of a coastal forest by the sea about 6000 years ago.
The cliffs of Westward Ho! directly adjoin Northam Burrows Country Park. A grassy coastal plain with salt marsh and sand dunes, this site is of considerable importance for both its wildlife and geology. Of particular note is its famous shingle ridge/spit formed by longshore drift with pebbles coming from further around Bideford Bay, which features some unusually large pebbles. These are made of a hard, fine-grained sandstone that outcrops in the cliffs to the south.
When exploring the coastline please take care and refer to the safety guidance on our ‘Responsible Visitor’ page.
The site is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Site of Special Scientific Interest.