Let’s take a scenic drive along England’s Atlantic Highway

ByAndrea Thompson

July 11, 2024

Also known as the A39. This 70-mile stretch winds its way from Barnstaple in Devon, to Newquay in Cornwall.

The Route:

The Atlantic Highway winds along the rugged coastline, providing breath taking views of the Atlantic Ocean. It serves as more than a mere road; it is a vital artery that links a remote area to the rest of the world. While locals may complain about its narrow lanes and complex junctions, for travellers, it represents an adventure ready to be discovered.

What You’ll Experience:

Wild Beauty:

The landscape of North Cornwall is a breath taking blend of ocean views, undulating farmland, and steep cliffs. Even at the height of the tourist season, one can discover tranquil coves and quaint local cafes.

Hidden Gems:

Venture beyond the well-trodden paths to uncover less-known treasures. From farm-to-table dining experiences to distinctive museums (including one devoted to witchcraft), there’s a diverse array of attractions.

Challenging Drives:

True, one may encounter winding roads and the occasional overzealous tailgater. Yet, the A39 provides a comparatively smooth ride in contrast to the narrower side roads.

Moments of Beauty:

The Atlantic Highway unexpectedly provides instances of pure beauty. Be on the lookout for breath taking coastal scenes and picturesque villages.

Where It Starts and Ends:

Barnstaple, Devon:

The journey begins here, where the A39 winds its way through lush countryside.

Newquay, Cornwall:

Your destination awaits—a vibrant coastal town with sandy beaches, surf spots, and a lively atmosphere.

Must-See Stops:

  1. Tintagel Castle: Legend has it that King Arthur was born here. Explore the ruins perched dramatically on the cliffs.
  2. Local Cafes: Pause for a cream tea or a hearty Cornish pasty at cosy cafes along the route.
  3. Beaches: Dip your toes in the Atlantic at secluded beaches like Crackington Haven and Porthcothan.
  4. Art Galleries: Discover local talent in galleries scattered along the way.

So, buckle up and savour the Atlantic Highway—a road that weaves together history, nature, and the spirit of Cornwall.