The quiet, picturesque, rocky shoreline of Lee Bay is a classic North Devon beauty spot. Great for rockpooling and snorkelling - the sea simply teams with life. Nestled in a valley further inland is a charming and hospitable village with a fascinating history and vibrant community spirit. The area is great for walking, whether it be woodland or coastal pathway, and the area is scattered with standing stones belonging to the ancient, once nomadic people whose rituals and symbolism is now lost in the mists of time.
Nature and Landscape
The area is one of the best for rock pooling, with a fasincating range of sea-shore creatures to observe and identify. There are a range of Devon Wildlife Trust guides in the Resource section on the right of this page. Please, make sure you follow the seashore code to ensure that this precious environment remains pristine.
Local organisation Coastwise also runs seashore safaris at Lee. Visit their website under 'Links' on the right of this page and see if they have any events coming up in the area. For more information on Lee's wildlife and history, see the Coastwise Beach Profile for Lee in Resources.
The history of Lee Bay and it's association with the sea is told in part through the cottages perched on the seafront, and the channel etched into the natural beached rocks. Though not a particularly hospitable looking haven for seafarers, it was certainly more friendly than the towering rocks on either side, and small coves like Lee were reasonably accessible for small vessels - making it ideal for smuggling as well as the arrival of coal and lime for nearby limekilns.
One of the most famous historical residents of Lee was the notorius smuggler Hannibal Richards - originally a member of the mythical Cruel Coppinger gang from Morwenstow, North Cornwall. Whether fishermen or smugglers, Lee's seafarers certainly had to know their stuff!
Lee Bay was also home to a Mill which still stands at the side of the cove close to the site of Lee-Bay hotel.
Lee Bay's parish website hosts further information on the area's history together with the Coastwise beach profile in Resources. Simply follow the links on the right hand side of the page for further information.
Art and culture
Samuel Palmer (a hugely influential painter of the 19th century) painted A Scene from Lee in 1835. Arguably one of his finest works in oil, and with a price tag of over £450,000 in 2003. He is also know to have produced work at Clovelly (see linked points).
A great place for walking, rockpooling or a relaxing stroll. The area is also used by approved and environmentally conscious watersports providers for Coasteering, for a more adventurous and upclose view of the coast.
Lee has a traditional village pub for refreshments, and there are also public toilets close to Lee Bay.