Castle Cove & Sugary Cove
Castle Cove is the closest beach to Dartmouth, being directly under Dartmouth Castle on the seaward side. It’s a tiny shingle beach, accessed down a near vertical cliff by a series of steps. The beach faces east so you’ll want to be there before mid afternoon when the sun moves off. You’ll also want to be aware of the tide times as the beach can be completely submerged at high tide.
Sugary Cove is a similar style little beach just a short distance further on from Castle Cove. It also has the benefit of a grassy picnic area above the cove.
Limited parking is available for both beaches at Dartmouth Castle and along the lane that runs to the castle however finding a space can be difficult in mid summer. We’d recommend the walk out from Dartmouth town centre – it’s not too far and there are some lovely views!
There’s a lovely cafe at Dartmouth Castle next to the car park and the castle itself is well worth a visit.
Blackpool Sands is a large privately-owned beach approximately three miles down the coast from Dartmouth near the village of Stoke Fleming. Being very sheltered and facing south-east this beach is a real sun-trap and has a microclimate all of its own.
Like all of the beaches in Start Bay Blackpool Sands is a shingle beach which means you won’t get sand blown in your sandwiches and the tide doesn’t go in and out for any great distance.
A Blue Flag award-winning beach Blackpool Sands has a wide range of facilities. On the beach there are sand pits, bathing rafts, kayaks for hire and RNLI lifeguards during the summer season. There’s also the famous award-winning Venus beach cafe and shop, toilets and showers.
Access to the beach is by car (car park fee applies) or bus or if you fancy a walk it’s a couple of hours from Dartmouth along the stunning coast path. You can also reach the beach by boat but please observe the safety buoys.
Further along the coast from Dartmouth and past the village of Strete lies the huge expanse of Slapton Sands. Stretching almost two miles this vast shingle bank runs from Strete Gate in the north to Torcross in the south.
Behind the shingle bank and forming part of a National Nature Reserve is Slapton Ley, the largest freshwater lake in the south west of England and home to a range of rare flora and fauna.
During the second world war prior to D-Day much of the local area here was evacuated in order to allow allied troops to train for beach landings. Unfortunately in 1944 in the seas off Slapton Sands German E-Boats attacked a training exercise (Exercise Tiger) with the result of over 900 US servicemen being killed. A Sherman tank that was sunk in this action has been recovered and is now sited as a memorial in Torcross.
At Torcross there’s a post office, pub and cafes. At the Strete Gate end there’s the great Lime Coffee Company.
Just round a small headland from Slapton Sands lies Beesands. Beesands is a lovely old fishing village to the south of Start Bay. It’s walkable from Torcross either round the beach at low tide or via a footpath over the headland when the tide is in. By car it entails a journey of a few miles inland via Stokenham.
Beesands tends to be a little quieter than Blackpool & Slapton Sands due to its position away from the main Dartmouth-Kingsbridge road. It’s well worth a trip of discovery down the back-lanes though.
The beach itself is similar in character to its busier neighbours already mentioned. Behind the sea defences lies a charming row of old fishermen’s cottages plus the famous Cricket Inn and Britannia Shellfish.
There’s plenty of parking and a large grassy area if you fancy kicking a ball about. There are also some great views of Start Point Lighthouse, one of the most southerly and exposed peninsulas in England.
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