A huge swathe of stunning coastline in north Devon is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and later this year the AONB celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The AONB covers 171 km sq of coastal landscape stretching from Marsland Mouth, on the Cornish border, to Combe Martin on the boundary of Exmoor National Park.

It’s made up of several different landscapes, each with its own special wildlife habitats. Many are Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Braunton Burrows is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (www.northdevonbiosphere.org.uk).

The anniversary celebrations – from September 2009-June 2010 will involve lots of different events and activities. We’ll keep you posted. Also, it’s worth visiting: www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk.

The North Devon’s coastline is great for walking but it’s also very popular with surfers. The Atlantic rollers at Woolacombe, Croyde, Putsborough, Westward Ho! and Saunton are all well respected by old hands and novices.

In all these places, there’s usually tuition and equipment hire available. Visitors can try kite-surfing, surf-skiing, sea-kayaking, sand yachting and kite buggying as well as more traditional fishing, climbing and diving. There are also miles of golden sands if you just happen to like nothing more than lying on the beach.

Woolacombe Bay has had a European Blue Flag since 1991. It’s safe and clean. The beaches at Putsborough, Hele Bay and Combe Martin also hold Tidy Britain Seaside Awards for their facilities.

In spring and early summer this year, the area hosts the North Devon festivals, a series of events and activities covering the performing and visual arts, sports, family entertainment and more.

First is the Walking Festival from 30 April-8 May, followed by the North Devon Festival in June. This includes the GoldCoast Oceanfest, a water and beach sports event around Woolacombe over the summer solstice weekend of 19-21 June. Also, look out for Appledore Visual Arts Festival, 28-31 May.

Visit: www.northdevonfestival.org and www.northdevon.com.