Braunton Burrows – Preparing for D-Day Walk



WWII and Ancestry


The Tour / Experience:

Braunton Burrows is one of the largest sand dune systems in the British Isles so ecologically significant it is now a designated UNESCO Biosphere, alongside Mt. Vesuvius and Yellowstone National Park. This walk is as much a celebration of the diversity of nature at Braunton as it is of the story of wartime Devon and D-Day.

Braunton Burrows and Saunton Beach were chosen to be the Assault Training Center for D-Day because of their similarity to the beaches of Normandy.Here American GIs underwent strenuous training to prepare for the assault on the cruel beach obstacles and defences of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall that stretched from Norway to Spain.

Our walk takes us into the dunes for views of the wide expanse of Saunton Sands and an appreciation of the difficulty of warfare in these environments. We stop at the concrete replicas of landing craft built to familiarise the assault troops and pay tribute to the men of Operation Overlord.

The views in all directions tell stories of military preparations. We look across the Taw and Torridge estuary to Northam Burrows and Appledore where a radar station, seaward defences, and testing ground for assault equipment such as the Hobart Funny Tank and giant explosive wheel known as the Panjandrum were just some of the innovations built and tested.

Although swamped with American troops, villages and towns in the area made them welcome until they disappeared in a matter of hours; headed for the greatest amphibious landing ever staged. They left many fond memories and great hope. On our walk we endeavour to understand the scope and significance of what was achieved in North Devon throughout the war and especially in the few short months before June 1944.


The Highlights: 

  • A 2 1/2 hour guided walk led by a Blue Badge Guide
  • Inspiring walking tour exploring the UNESCO Biosphere of Braunton Burrows, the largest sand dune system in England used as a training ground for the Normandy Landings by 10,000 D-day troops.
  • Use of personal radio receiver connected to Tour Guide wireless audio transmission system for improved audibility and social distancing on walk.
  • Option to investigate locations associated with servicemen given adequate notice and information.
  • Optional extras – Walk back to Braunton Heritage Centre with your Guide via the Great Field, still farmed using medieval strip farming methods.
  • Accompanied by Blue Badge Guide with Covid safe measures in place.


Tour Options:

  • Combine this tour with a guided walk in the lovely seaside port of Ilfracombe on Devon’s rocky North Coast: hidden coves and hideaways, seaside architecture and a quirky holiday culture with fascinating stories of mariners, pirates, explorers, wartime heroes and pleasure-seeking visitors.


Tour Details:

Start & End Location:  Sandy Lane car park. Grid Ref. SS 462349

Crow Point Car park Broadsands. Grid Ref. SS467327


Contact Details:


Tour gallery

About the guide

Name: Julia Morris

Qualifications: Southern England

Languages: English