Westward Ho! beach has once again cemented its status as a holiday destination of choice by receiving both the Blue Flag and Seaside Award in the lists of winners for 2023. It remains in the elite of sites awarded both accolades with a total of 78 sites awarded the Blue Flag and 128 displaying Seaside Awards.
The internationally recognised Blue Flag is widely considered to be the gold standard for beaches and is awarded annually by environmental charity Keep Britain Today. While most people are aware that the certification highlights the quality of the bathing water this is only part of the list of criteria on which beaches are judged. To qualify the beach must satisfy standards in four categories and against 33 individual targets covering environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management including litter and waste, safety and services such as first aid and lifeguards.
Blue Flag beaches have to run a minimum of five educational activities each year making people aware of the importance of looking after the natural environment. Rangers at Northam Burrows run programmes for Schools and the general public right through the year. The extended and refurbished visitor centre, opened in 2021, also houses a number of exhibition spaces and an education room, as well as boasting a beachside Café and important changing places facility for disabled visitors.
Backed by the pebble ridge and Northam Burrows Country Park, the golden sands of Westward Ho! stretch for over 2 miles at low tide. Popular with visitors and locals throughout the year, Westward Ho! also became the focus of national attention in recent years when community led initiatives saw the resort become the first in the country to ban the sale of cheap polystyrene bodyboards. The awareness programme highlighted that over 16,000 of these are discarded on our beaches up and down the country each year.
Sean Kearney – Head of Communities and Place at Torridge District Council said:
“We’re very lucky in Torridge to have such a fantastic beach right on our doorstep at Westward Ho! that has consistently achieved the Blue Flag award for over 20 years in a row. Right next door Northam Burrows forms an integral part of North Devon’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Together the beach and burrows offer a fantastic location for recreation and connecting with nature as well as an opportunity to see many rare local plants and wildlife species.”