The forecast, for our last day in Devon, was nothing but sunshine, a perfect day to check out some of the amazing South Devon beaches. In addition, we expected to experience many of the infamous single track lanes, so prevalent in rural Devon.
After a quick breakfast we departed the condo, heading south on the A381 towards Totnes, where we transitioned to more rural roads, heading for the coast.
Only 3 miles from Dartmouth and set in a beautiful sheltered bay, Blackpool Sands, was our first planned stop. The website photos looked impressive, tripadvisor reports were good and they have a cafe and shop. However, descending the hill from Stoke Fleming, we noted the beach was already rather busy. Approaching the entrance, we encountered a queue of cars, at the side of the road, that was barely moving. Since we had lots of beaches planned, we elected to skip Blackpool Sands and head to Slapton Sands.
Slapton Sands Spit with beach to left & nature reserve to the right
We continued along the spit, stopping at the Slapton Sands Memorial Car Park, which had lots of empty spaces. Parking fees were about UKP 1.00/hr. The memorial is dedicated to the many US servicemen, who died during a training accident, while practicing for the Normandy Landings, during an exercise code-named “Exercise Tiger”
Slapton Sands Beach
Slapton Sands is pebbles/shingle rather than the fine sand we prefer, but it is definitely superior to the rocky beaches we have seen many times. Lifeguards are present during the summer months, with flags indicating safe swimming areas. In addition to parking, they also have a cafe and toilets.
Slapton Beach looking west
Departing the parking lot we headed down to Torcross, then the A379 to Chillington, where we ventured onto the narrow, single track lane to Beeson and eventually Beesands. From Chillington to Beesands it was only 3 miles, but took almost 1/2 hour.
Enjoy the video of us driving the Devon single track lanes (an easy section)
Arriving in Beesands, which is a tiny coastal village, we turned, heading parallel to the beach, quickly finding a vacant parking spot.
Beesands beach road with parking to the left
The shoreline had a raised promenade and we were fortunate enough to find parking at one of the entrances down to the beach.
Steps down to Beesands Beach
While it was a great area, the beach certainly wasn’t the fine golden sands that we are used to, being more small rocks.
Beesands Beach looking East
After a stroll along the beach we decided it was lunch time, so headed over to the Cricket Inn. Great pub, with fantastic staff, who I got chatting to about cameras. Turns out the chap behind the bar is also a photo enthusiast and Canon aficionado. We both received excellent burgers, enjoying them at a picnic table overlooking the beach. Beach, sunshine and lunch – perfect combination.
Cricket Inn where we enjoyed lunch
Our next beach on the schedule is Hallsands, which is only a mile down the coast, but with no coastal road, we took the 3 mile route over the inland single track lanes. Walking would probably have been faster, as driving took a little more than 1/2 hr.
Hallsands Beach with boats on the shore
Again, Hallsands Beach was pebbles, rather than the fine sand that we prefer.
Hallsands village (hamlet) and beach
Departing Hallsands, we headed across the headland, again using minor roads, to East Portlemouth, then down the hill to Mill Bay. From the lower road, it is only 1 mile into the National Trust parking lot at Mill Bay, but without a doubt, it was one of the toughest miles I have ever driven. Single track lane, with cars and pedestrians going both directions = really slow progress.
National Trust parking lot at Mill Bay
We parked the car, displaying out NT decal, so parking was complimentary. However, the lot, even on a busy summer day was not staffed, so payment was on the honour system.
Mill Bay Beach
The above small and sheltered beach, was at the entrance to the parking lot. It had excellent fine golden sand, with a very gentle slope down to the water. The gentle slope continued into the water, as kids were able to wade out a considerable distance. A food truck and washrooms were available across the lane from the beach.
Coastal path leading to Sunny Cove Beach
This was an easy hike of about 1/2 mile, which started with a decent incline, then gently undulating. The path was well marked and easy to follow.
Looking up Salcombe Harbour from a gap in the trees
The above photo also shows the shallow waters off the Mill Bay Beach, with a number of people well off the shore line.
Sunny Cove Beach with panorama across Salcombe inlet
As can be seen from the beach photos, this is a popular area, which is only accessible by water, or the narrow 1 mile entrance lane.
Didn’t see much point in climbing down to the beach, so I stayed up top watching a yacht race in the harbour, as they all tacked across the channel.
Yacht race in Salcombe Harbour
As the yachts turned around, heading back up the harbour, I also retraced my steps back to the parking lot.
Salcombe Harbour – a popular spot for boating
Our next destination was Hope Cove, with the GPS suggesting a distance of 16 miles, but it wanted to take us back up the hill through East Portlemouth. We elected to take the lower road along the inlet. A short distance along the road, we spotted signage advising road is under water at high tide.
This was 1 of 2 ford crossings, fortunately it was low tide
You guessed correctly, it was almost continuous single track lanes, but fortunately we only passed 1 other vehicle on this section.
Arriving in Hope Cove, we found a parking lot across the street from Mouthwell Sands.
Mouthwell Sands 1 of 2 beaches in Hope Cove
We walked through the centre of the village, with the usual array of touristy shops, pubs and cafes, eventually reaching the harbour.
Hope Cove harbour and main beach
We then headed along the SW Coastal Path, which started with a good incline, then dropped down to the other section of the village.
Hope Cove showing the hill we hiked over along the SW Coastal Path
Hope Cove inlet
Thatched cottage in Hope Cove
The original plan had us following the coast to Plymouth, but it was already late afternoon, so we decided our next stop at South Milton Beach would be our final beach of the day.
Following the coast, it would have been less than a 1 mile walk, but by road it was 3 miles, and you guessed correctly, about another 1/2 hr drive. South Milton Beach is another National Trust Parking Lot, where the actual lot isn’t huge, but they supplement it by parking on the adjacent grassy slopes. Being NT members, parking was complimentary.
Looking west over the dunes at South Milton Beach
Mega homes & hotel with amazing beach and ocean views
Panorama – South Milton Beach looking East
After a short stroll on the beach we headed to the cafe, where we enjoyed tea and a scone at one of the picnic benches overlooking the beach. A very pleasant ending to an excellent day of beach visiting.
Lovely shots, the weather looks great!
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Sam – thanks for the comment. Although we experienced a dreadful summer during our 5 months in UK, we had great hopes for sunny periods in Devon & Cornwall. Although we did get a couple of rainy days, this particular day was one of the best.
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As long as you did get the odd break from the rain! We didn’t have a great summer up in the north of England either, I escaped just as Autumn was creeping in for summer in Australia. I hope you had fun regardless, I take comfort in knowing that most tourists don’t travel the UK for the weather anyway! Haha
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