Braunton Burrows: A Breathtaking UNESCO Biosphere Reserve


Dive into the captivating beauty and biodiversity of the Braunton Burrows, a gem located in the heart of the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This comprehensive guide will provide all the information you need to explore and appreciate the wonders of this remarkable coastal region.

Explore the Rich Ecosystem of Braunton Burrows

Braunton Burrows, an extensive sand dune system between Saunton Sands beach and the picturesque farmlands surrounding Braunton, is celebrated for its intricate landscapes and rare flora and fauna. As a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the area serves as a haven for unique plant and insect species, making it an essential destination for nature enthusiasts.

A Cornucopia of Plant Life and Breathtaking Wildflowers

During the summer months, the Braunton Burrows is transformed into a vivid tapestry of colours, as over 470 species of rare plants and flowers bloom, contributing to Braunton’s status as the most biodiverse parish in England.

The area is home to both common species such as yellow iris and rarer varieties like sea stock, sand toadflax, and water germander. These captivating floral displays attract 33 species of butterflies, further enhancing the area’s biodiversity.

An Abundance of Wildlife Awaits Your Discovery

The Braunton Burrows offers a rich array of wildlife, including the striking Devon Ruby Red cows, which have been introduced as part of a land management system. These cows, known for their deep rust colour, are a local breed highly sought after worldwide.

In addition to the cows, the burrows host a multitude of other animals, such as rabbits, foxes, badgers, and deer. Birds of prey, like common buzzards, kestrels, and hawks, can often be spotted hovering in search of their next meal. Ground-nesting birds, such as meadow pipits and skylarks, as well as migratory birds like chiffchaffs and willow warblers, also inhabit the area.

The Importance of Land Management in Braunton Burrows

The Braunton Burrows have been used for military training since World War II when American troops were stationed in Braunton in preparation for the D-Day landings. The military’s presence, along with grazing cattle, helps to manage the land, protecting the rare plants from being overtaken by scrub, grasses, and weeds.

Featured Places to Stay Near Bideford

Exploring the Zones and Points of Interest in Braunton Burrows

The Braunton Burrows is divided into three zones, each accessible from different car parks. Zone 1, located in the north, can be accessed via the Saunton Sands Beach car park. Zone 2, in the centre, is reachable from Sandy Lane Car Park, while Zone 3 in the south connects to Crow Point and is accessible from Crow Point car park. Gateposts have signs indicating which zones cattle are grazing in, allowing visitors to avoid them if desired.

Notable points of interest in Braunton Burrows include:

  • Flagpole Dune: Once the highest dune in the area, erosion has since transformed the landscape, creating a steep valley where the dune once stood.
  • The South West Coast Path: This trail skirts the outskirts of the Burrows and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Lundy Island: Visible from the top of the dunes, this picturesque island lies to the west.

Responsible Visitation: Guidelines for Enjoying the Braunton Burrows

While the privately-owned Braunton Burrows is open to the public, visitors are requested to adhere to the following guidelines to help protect this unique and delicate ecosystem:

Keep dogs under

Control: While dogs are welcome at Braunton Burrows, it is important to keep them under control, especially around the cattle that graze in the area. Be mindful of any posted signs and avoid letting your dogs disturb the wildlife or plants in the reserve.

Dispose of waste responsibly: Litter, particularly plastic waste, can be harmful to both livestock and native wildlife. Additionally, dog waste can spread diseases that may affect both humans and animals. Dispose of all waste in designated bins or take it with you when you leave.

Do not pick flowers: As a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, it is crucial to protect the rare and beautiful flora found in Braunton Burrows. Leave the flowers and plants undisturbed in their natural habitat for others to enjoy.

Close gates behind you: Ensure that you close any gates you pass through to prevent livestock from escaping and potentially causing harm to themselves or others.

Avoid touching military debris: Braunton Burrows is still used as a military training area, and it is not uncommon to encounter military debris. For your safety, do not touch or remove any debris you find.

Get Involved and Support Braunton Countryside Centre

The Braunton Countryside Centre is a valuable resource for locals and visitors alike, providing information, education, and support for the protection of the unique environment found in Braunton Burrows. By visiting the Centre and taking part in their activities, you can help contribute to the preservation of this incredible area.

Opening Times

Check the Braunton Countryside Centre website for the latest opening hours and events.


The Centre is conveniently located in Braunton, making it easily accessible for visitors to the area.

What’s On

The Centre regularly hosts events, guided walks, and educational talks. Visit their website or social media channels to stay up-to-date on upcoming events. Below is a video of their guided walks in Braunton Burrows.

Here is the summary of the video:

  • Braunton Burrows is located on the north Devon coast and is one of the largest unspoilt areas of sand dunes in the country.
  • Braunton Burrows has a diverse range of habitats due to the nature of its soil and has species that cannot be found in other places in north Devon.


Reach out to the Braunton Countryside Centre with any inquiries or for more information.


Consider making a donation to support the ongoing work of the Braunton Countryside Centre and the preservation of Braunton Burrows.


Stay connected with the Braunton Countryside Centre through their social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Share your experiences and engage with the community to help raise awareness and protect this unique environment.

Reviews and Testimonials

The Braunton Countryside Centre has received numerous positive reviews from visitors, highlighting the informative and interactive exhibits, helpful staff, and the overall enjoyment of exploring the Braunton Burrows.

Braunton Burrows Reviews

Below are the latest reviews of Braunton Burrows.

Based on 91 reviews
powered by Google
Address: Braunton Burrows, Braunton EX33, UK

Tom Whalley avatarTom Whalley
7 months ago
A beautiful, other worldly place. I highly recommend walking right into the heart of the dunes and finding the bench atop the highest hill.
Joanne Clarke avatarJoanne Clarke
in the last week
Stunning area to explore
Lynn Martin avatarLynn Martin
2 years ago
Perfect place to get away from it all with my rescue dog and her 'brother'. They can run and play up and down sand dunes and hills over hundreds of acres. We get to admire the views in peace. Remember to take plenty of water and a snack or 2 for energy.Please do NOT leave evidence of your visit. Costa Coffee cups, empty lager cans, kids sweet papers, dog poo bags and broken umbrellas do not belong here. Lazy @#$#@.
Matt last avatarMatt last
4 years ago
Excellent place to wander around for the day, or on the way to the amazing beach nearby. Car park was basically free as you get a hot drink voucher from the little hut at the entrance. Be warned there are no public toilets at the car park and it is a good 30+ minute walk to the beach, although definitely worth it!
Phillip Jones avatarPhillip Jones
4 years ago
Lovely wide open spaces with sand dunes, about a mile to get to the beach. Often used for army training so always the chance of finding used bullet casings. Good parking at Sandy lane CP. cost £2 also has a small place to purchase drinks. Very dog friendly.
See All Reviews

In Summary

the Braunton Burrows is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful retreat in a stunning natural setting.

By respecting the environment and following the guidelines set out by the Braunton Countryside Centre, we can all help preserve this unique and valuable area for generations to come.

Author Matt Ogborne
Matt Ogborne
About the Author

Welcome to! I’m Matt, a seasoned explorer and avid fan of Bideford and the broader North Devon area. With over a decade of consistent family visits, virtually every weekend, I’ve immersed myself in the rich history and vibrant culture Bideford & North Devon.

On this site, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge amassed from my adventures here. From in-depth local guides to engaging blog posts about Bideford. Whether you’re looking for recommendations on things to do or guidance on where to stay we have you covered. Join me as we delve into the heart of Bideford, North Devon – a town that’s more than just a destination, but an experience waiting to be discovered.

Do you want to see your favourite Bideford attraction, place to stay, event or activity listed here? Contact Us!