Nine of North Devon and Torridge’s beaches have been given the highest rating by the Environment Agency in this year’s bathing water quality results.

Hartland Quay and Westward Ho! in Torridge, and Saunton Sands, Putsborough, Combesgate, Ilfracombe's Tunnels Beach and Lynmouth in North Devon have all been rated as 'excellent' for the fourth year in a row. Woolacombe beach has also been branded excellent for the third consecutive year.

Croyde Bay joins the list of excellent North Devon beaches in the 2018 results, after being rated 'good' since the classifications were introduced in 2015.

Hele at Ilfracombe remains 'good', while Ilfracombe's Wildersmouth beach and Combe Martin remain poor.

Throughout the bathing water season from May to September, staff from the Environment Agency take up to 20 samples at each designated bathing spot. These are tested in Environment Agency laboratories and the results are published online.

Nationally, 97.9 per cent of the country's 420 bathing waters passed tough standards.

Bruce Newport, area environment manager for the Environment Agency in Devon and Cornwall, said: “Our oceans are a valuable resource for both food, leisure and the economy. Checking how clean they are is a role the Environment Agency takes very seriously and we are delighted with the record results this year.

“Everyone's continued hard work has paid off. We are delighted to see such great water quality at our beaches which contribute so much to the local economy and are now a signature of the South West.”