‘Gridlock’ as crowds flock to North Devon’s beaches despite Covid-19 pandemic

Traffic jamming the roads at Woolacombe. Picture: Richard Walden

Traffic jamming the roads at Woolacombe. Picture: Richard Walden - Credit: Richard Walden

Gridlocked roads and parking chaos have been reported as people flock to North Devon’s beaches today (Wednesday, May 20).

Ilfracombe and Braunton police have reported the coast roads are ‘gridlocked’ and urged people not to travel to North Devon.

A tweet said they had identified vehicles from all over the country in North Devon today.

And North and West Devon Superintendent Toby Davies tweeted to urge people to stay away.

It follows easing of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions and Government advice that people could undertake ‘unlimited travel’ for exercise.

Traffic queuing to try and get into Saunton Beach car park. Picture: Tania Palmer

Traffic queuing to try and get into Saunton Beach car park. Picture: Tania Palmer - Credit: Tania Palmer


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Saunton Beach car park has been closed today after initially reopening on Monday, after becoming full up with tailbacks stretching back down the main road and people becoming irate with the situation.

At Woolacombe cars have parked anywhere along the Esplanade, reportedly jammed in anywhere and making it difficult for larger vehicles to pass through.

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Vehicles parked on the Esplanade have been hit with penalty notices according to eyewitnesses, and police have arrived in the village.

A spokesperson for Woolacombe Tourist Information said: “We had hoped that people would be considerate to the local coastal communities so are very disappointed by the influx.”

Vehicles have been hit with penalty notices. Picture: Richard Walden

Vehicles have been hit with penalty notices. Picture: Richard Walden - Credit: Richard Walden

Downend car park at Croyde is reported to be very busy if not closed and at Putsborough Sands, owner Rob Tucker posted on Facebook to say the car was now full and closed.

Mr Tucker said: “We are not comfortable taking any more cars at Putsborough Sands until much later today - not sure what time that will be, if at all today.

“This is the first time in my life I have turned trade away but I am convinced that it is the right thing to do in the present time. My apologies to all those who will be disappointed.”

As might be expected, traffic is heavy in Braunton as people try to get to the beaches.

Vehicles have been hit with penalty notices. Picture: Richard Walden

Vehicles have been hit with penalty notices. Picture: Richard Walden - Credit: Richard Walden

The Gazette has approached the operators of Saunton Beach for a comment.

Have you got any pictures of the traffic chaos today? Email them to us at newsdesk@northdevongazette.co.uk .

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