Saunton Sands

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Saunton Sands
A RAF C-130K Hercules landing at Saunton Sands

Saunton Sands is a beach near the English village of Saunton on the North Devon coast near Braunton, popular for longboard surfing.[1] Beyond its southern end, Crow Point, England is the mouth of the River Taw estuary.[2] 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. The beach is cordoned off a few times a year and the beach used as an airstrip for military transport planes, usually Lockheed C-130 Hercules of the Royal Air Force, to practice STOL beach landings and take offs.[3] Flying kites is prohibited, accordingly, on part of the beach.[4]

Saunton Sands is popular with surfers because the beach is long, an unusually exposed westerly, and provides space for large groups.

On 3 August 1990, a temperature of 35.4 °C (95.7 °F) was recorded at Saunton Sands, which is the highest temperature recorded in the Devon and Cornwall.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

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)[6], 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.

It was a major location for the 1978 horror film The Shout, along with the adjacent Braunton Burrows.[7]

The beach was used as a location for the Second World War Anzio landings scenes in the 1982 Pink Floyd film The Wall[8] 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.[9] Saunton Sands also doubled for the Normandy beaches in 2014's movie Edge of Tomorrow.[10]

In the late 1990s the beach was used for the video for the Robbie Williams song "Angels".[11] In 2013 it was used again for the video for the Olly Murs song "Hand on Heart".[12]

The BBC One series A Very English Scandal filmed scenes as Saunton Sands to depict a California beach, using digitally rendered palm trees, where the character of Peter Bessell (Alex Jennings) lives.[13]


  1. ^ "Saunton Sands Beach | Saunton Beach". Saunton Beach. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  2. ^ Guide, Copyright The Beach. "Saunton Sands Beach | Devon | UK Beach Guide". UK Beach Guide. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  3. ^ Mark Fowler (2014-04-03), C130 J HERCULES SAUNTON SANDS TACTICAL OPERATIONS, retrieved 2017-10-13
  4. ^ "Kitesurfing at Saunton Sands - Blue Chip Holidays". Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  5. ^ "South-west England: Temperature". The Met Office. Archived from the original on November 20, 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  6. ^ "Reviews of "A Matter of Life and Death (1946)"". Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  7. ^ The Shout (1978), retrieved 2017-10-13
  8. ^ "Lily James films in WWII aircraft replica for new flick Guernsey". Mail Online. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  9. ^ "1987 – Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason". Neptune Pink Floyd. 2000-12-28. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  10. ^ Reeves, Tony. "Filming Locations for Edge Of Tomorrow: Live Die Repeat (2014), in London and the UK". The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  11. ^ "Robbie Williams". Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  12. ^ Howells, Sarah. "VIDEO: Olly Murs releases Hand on Heart video shot on Saunton". North Devon Gazette. Retrieved 2017-10-13.
  13. ^ Eleanor Bley Griffiths (2018-06-03). "Where is A Very English Scandal filmed?". Radio Times. Retrieved 2019-01-18.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°06′0″N 4°13′33″W / 51.10000°N 4.22583°W / 51.10000; -4.22583