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HER Number:MDV103382
Name:Military Tracks on the Dunes Above Woolacombe Sands


Military trackways are visible as earthworks on aerial photographs from 1946 to 2007., and were established by the U.S. Army to facilitate Second World War military training activities. Some are still in use whilst others survive as earthworks.


Grid Reference:SS 455 425
Map Sheet:SS44SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishMortehoe
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishMORTEHOE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MILITARY ROAD (World War II - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1501, NMR RAF/106G/UK/1501 3093 13-MAY-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349927.

A trackway along the dunes is visible as an earthwork.

Cambridge University, 1948, CUCAP AX, CUCAP AX9 29-JUN-1948 (Aerial Photograph). SDV16233.

Well established trackways are visible on the dunes above Woolacombe Sands.

Next Perspectives, 2007, Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref:, Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS4542 04-MAY-2007 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349344.

The main route of the trackway appears to still be in use, and offshoots linking the sands to the upper part of the dunes are visible as earthworks.

Hegarty, C. + Knight, S., 2011-2012, North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV349018.

Trackways along the lower part of the dunes at Woolacombe Sands are visible as earthworks on aerial photographs from 1946. They are probably the same as the wire meshed trackways cut through the dunes by the U.S. Army in late 1943-early 1944 as described by ‘Ben Gunn’ (1999), which facilitated military training activity and import of goods by sea in preparation for the D-Day landings. Some are depicted on Mastermap in 2012 and visible as current routeways on aerial photographs dating to 2007, although others are visible as earthworks. Only the relict unused trackways not mapped on modern Mastermap have been transcribed.

Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

The main route of the trackway is mapped.

Gunn, B., n.d. [1999], Tales of Old Woolacombe, 51; 54 (Monograph). SDV350728.

'Deep gully ways' were dug 'along the sand hills' from Woolacombe to Putsborough by the US Army in late 1943 or early 1944, and a roadway constructed linking Vention to the end of Marine Drive.
'The United States Army cut two roadways to link up Marine Drive with a wire meshed trackway laid along the length of the sand dunes from Welcome to Putsborough (Black Rock).'

Sources / Further Reading

SDV16233Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1948. CUCAP AX. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). CUCAP AX9 29-JUN-1948.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV349018Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S.. 2011-2012. North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. ACD383/2/1. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV349344Aerial Photograph: Next Perspectives. 2007. Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref:. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Digital. Next Perspectives PGA Tile Ref: SS4542 04-MAY-2007.
SDV349927Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1501. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/106G/UK/1501 3093 13-MAY-1946. [Mapped feature: #62859 ]
SDV350728Monograph: Gunn, B.. n.d. [1999]. Tales of Old Woolacombe. Tales of Old Woolacombe. 51; 54.

Associated Monuments

MDV103381Part of: Area H of the US Army Assault Training Centre, Woolacombe Sands (Monument)
MDV103299Related to: Hut platforms on Woolacombe Warren (Monument)
MDV103312Related to: Platform on Woolacombe Warren (Monument)
MDV103303Related to: Possible Hut Platforms on Woolacombe Warren (Monument)
MDV103309Related to: Possible Military Structures on Woolacombe Warren (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6132 - North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty NMP Project (Ref: ACD383/2/1)

Date Last Edited:Sep 12 2023 8:19AM