Eight beaches in North Devon and Torridge have been given the highest quality rating for bathing water.

Hartland Quay and Westward Ho! in Torridge, and Saunton Sands, Putsborough, Combesgate, Lynmouth and Ilfracombe's Tunnels beach have all been rated 'excellent' for the fifth year in a row by the Environment Agency, while Woolacombe has been given the rating for the fourth consecutive year.

Croyde Bay is classified as 'good' this year after an excellent rating in 2018, while Hele at Ilfracombe remains good for the fifth year in a row.

Combe Martin has been rated 'poor' for the third year in a row and Ilfracombe's Wildersmouth beach has been given a poor rating for the fifth year in a row, meaning it will join Instow in being removed from the list of designated bathing waters.

The two beaches are the only two in Devon and Cornwall to receive the rating, due largely to agricultural and urban drainage issues.

Signs will be placed at both beaches advising against bathing when the season begins in May.

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.

It is the fifth year beaches have been measured against the standards.

Malcolm Bell, chairman of the BeachWise Forum for the South West, said: "This is great news for everyone who enjoys visiting our beautiful coastline.

"Bathing waters are much cleaner and have continually improved since 1990 when just 27 per cent met European water quality standards.

"In this region, this is thanks to massive efforts by Defra, the Environment Agency, South West Water, councils, local communities, farmers and environmental organisations.

"The beaches rated as poor are still open for people to enjoy, but it's really important that all the organisations and the local communities involved continue to play their part to improve and protect bathing water quality."