BEACHES IN SOUTH DEVON

The South Hams coastline is lined with an array of vast sandy beaches and pebbled coves. All are perfect for a relaxing day, or the starting point for exploring along the South West coast path. You will find many of the larger beaches with amenities, along with a quaint village pub, or beach cafe, but off the beaten track there are many secluded natural coves offering just sun (hopefully), sea and sand (or pebbles)…

The following information is on our local villages and beaches in the South Hames from West to East along the coastline (mileage is approximate)

Bigbury on Sea (8 miles) is well known for its sea tractor (operates at high tide only); this provides access to Burgh Island home to the Art Devon hotel, which has been used in the filming of Agatha Christies ‘Poirot’. The long beach is perfect families with its fine sand and shallow water for paddling and rock pooling, with lifeguard cover during the main season. Amenities also include water sports tuition and equipment hire, along with the Venus Beach cafe; offering snacks produced with local produce. Visit www.loveingthebeach.co.uk for further information.


Bantham (4 miles) boasts a vast beach of very fine sand, backed by ‘marram’ covered sand dunes, with lots of rock pools for exploring. The beach is known as the ‘locals’ beach, which nestles at the mouth of the River Avon. The beach is ideal for the family with large car park, easy access, local pub (Sloop Inn), small shop and cafe, along with the ‘Gastrobus’ offering mouth watering snacks. The beach has lifeguard cover from April to September. Bentham is popular all year round for surfing and kite flying, along with kayaking on the River Avon. Surfing lessons and equipment hire are also available - www.banthamsurfingacademy.co.uk or www.banthamdevon.co.uk for the latest surfing information.

From Bantham you can catch the passenger ferry across the River Avon, enabling you to walk to Bigbury along the coast path. The ferry operates daily April to September, excluding Sundays (10am - 11am and 3pm - 4pm)


Thurlestone and South Milton Sands (4 miles) is a beach of fine shingle and sand. There are good amenities, and a great location for wind surfing and for exploring rock pools at low tide. Wind surfing hire and tuition are available. The area inside the Thurlestone Rock makes a safe spot to learn, with gentle onshore winds for most of the summer. At the South Milton end of the sands you will find the very popular beach cafe www.beachhousedevon.com - booking is essential.

There are a few smaller beaches along the Thurlestone coastline, before Thurlestone Sands:

  • Broadsands is a pleasant bathing beach, with good rock pooling at low tide.
  • Yarmer is a small sandy beach, directly below the Thurlestone golf club. There are no amenities here.
  • Leasfoot is a sheltered sandy beach, backed by sand dunes. A quiet,traditional beach, ideal for a lazy day, beach games and rock pooling. There are no amenities here.

It is well worth the walk up into the village of Thurlestone which has a small shop and post office, a village pub, and dominant in the centre of the village a luxury four star hotel, open daily for lunches and afternoons teas, spa facilities, along with a 9 hole golf course which is open to non residents - www.thurlestone.co.uk


Hope Cove (6 miles) is a delightful village, nestled within a green valley with two sheltered beaches. Inner and Outer Hope are both sheltered sandy beaches with good access. The village has amenities, along with a shop, cafe and a lovely pub - www.hopeandanchor.co.uk


Soar Mill Cove (7 miles) is a small sandy cove, sheltered by cliffs and rocks. Once parked access is via lane and field, so may not be suitable for all.


South Sands (7 miles) is a stretch of golden sand situated in the sheltered Salcombe estuary. Water sports tuition and hire are available here, along with amenities, and a hotel for refreshments. From here you can also take the passenger ferry into the town of Salcombe - www.southsandsferry.co.uk


North Sands (7 miles) is very similar to South Sands, with easy access, parking and amenities with views of the Salcombe estuary, and dining available at the Winking Prawn - www.winkingprawn.co.uk


East Portlemouth (11 miles) lies opposite Salcombe from where a passenger ferry can be caught to gain access to the sandy beaches of Sunny Cove and Mill Bay. Mill Bay being the larger and most popular with amenities. The Venus Cafe is a popular stop before heading up to, and along the South West Coast path. Please note there is limited car parking and lane to Mill Bay is narrow with few passing places.


Gara Rock (11 miles) is a large unspoilt sandy beach, once parked access is over the fields and steep down the cliff path, so may not be suitable for all - perhaps just a stop at newly built ‘Gara Rock’ establishment for a coffee to enjoy the view of the rugged coastline.


East Prawle (10 miles) is another small village, an ideal base of a coastal walk. The coastline is rugged with many secluded coves, ideal for rock pooling and Prawle Point is a haven for bird watching, along with the NCI look-out which is manned by volunteers. The village itself has a pub and small shop/cafe. Parking is available on the village green, but access to the beaches is more difficult (1 mile steep walk), but well worth the effort especially if you prefer solitude. Jagged cliffs hide Elender Cover and Macely beach, but fine sand and rock pools await you after the steep path. Horsily Cove is also a one mile steep walk from the closest parking, the beach is a mix of sand, shingle and pebbles, and excellent for rock pooling. There are no facilities on these beaches.


Lannacombe (10 miles) is reached by a narrow lane, with limited parking, but the beach at low water is of fine sand with interesting rock pools.


Start Point (11 miles) is home to the automated lighthouse set on top of the rugged cliffs. Tours can be arranged. Mattiscombe beach is a mile from here, but a steep walk. The sandy beach offers magnificent views of the coastline.


Hallsands (11 miles) is an old fishing village, destroyed during the storms of 1917 after the shingle had been dredged for the building of Plymouth Dockyards. Today there is a viewing platform to look down over to the ruins. The nearby pebbled beach offers stunning views of Start Point. There are no amenities.


Beesands (10 miles) is another old fishing village battered by coastal storms, with a large sea wall trying to protect the remaining residents. Small fishing boats still depart daily, with their catch being offered on the village green. The long beach of shingle offers view to Start Point. The village has a pub and amenities.


Torcross (9 miles) is at the start of Slapton Sands, two miles of pebbled shingle with stunning views. The beach was used in WWII as a practice area for the D-Day landings. It is a good hunting ground for collectors of shells. Today you will notice a new stretch of road which divides the beach and the fresh water lagoon of Slapton Ley. This is a national nature reserve, you will find an abundance of bird and wildlife here. Visit www.slnnr.org.uk for information on guided tours and courses. The main village of Torcross has amenities, a large pub and tearooms, along with parking. Torcross has been badly hit during the storms of January and February 2016, so may not be looking its best as the sea defences were breached once again. Slapton (9 miles) is the inland village; you will find a public house here with a fascinating collection of old local pictures depicting the WWII evacuations. The far end of the beach is known as Strete Gate (12 miles), parking and amenities are available.


Blackpool Sands (13 miles) is further along the coast, the beautiful crescent beach is of very fine shingle, an ideal beach for all the family with easy access, parking and purpose built amenities. Tuition and hare are available for an array of water-sports, and the Venus Cafe offers extensive menu of local produce. www.blackpoolsands.co.uk


Please visit www.lovingthebeach.co.uk for additional information on access, parking and facilities for the main beaches in our area.

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