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Saunton Sands is a beach in the English village of Saunton on the North Devon coast near Braunton, popular as a longboard surfing location. Its southern end, 'Crow Point', lies at the mouth of the River Taw estuary. It is part of the Taw-Torridge estuary Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is at the centre of the UNESCO-designated North Devon's Biosphere Reserve, where Braunton Burrows lies at the heart.
'Saunton Sands Hotel' overlooks the beach at the northern end, which, in this part of the beach, is a designated military training area. It is cordoned off a few times a year and the beach is converted into an air strip for the military transport planes, usually the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, of the Royal Air Force to practice STOL beach landing and take off. There are permanent restrictions for flying kites on this part of the beach.
Saunton Sands is popular with surfers because the beach is long and provides space for large groups.
In popular culture
Saunton Sands was used as a location for the 1946 Powell and Pressburger film A Matter of Life and Death (sometimes called Stairway to Heaven), and can be seen where David Niven's character is washed up on the beach after he jumps from his plane without a parachute - and survives.
The beach was used as a location for the Second World War Anzio landings scenes in the 1982 Pink Floyd film The Wall and as the backdrop for over 700 wrought iron hospital beds on the cover of the band's 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Saunton Sands also doubled for the Normandy beaches in 2013's Edge of Tomorrow.
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