South Devon Coast – Devon
Along Devon’s most beautiful and enticing stretch of coastline, you’ll find secret, sandy coves overlooked by wild cliff tops with breathtaking views at sunset. Four remarkable river estuaries give way to miles of secluded tidal creeks that are perfect for for canoeing and wildlife watching.
East of the Dart estuary, secluded Man Sands and Scabbacombe, which is part-naturist, have long bays with hidden coves, while Mattiscombe and Ravens coves are beautifully remote beaches below Start Point. At nearby Hallsands, an entire village was virtually washed away by storms in 1917. Today only 2 of the original 37 houses remain. For the best views, stay at one of the basic but stunningly located campsites a little further up the coast near Beesands and buy freshly caught fish at the Britannia Shack.
Prawle Point, the wildest headland, boasts a string of tiny coves like white pearls and an abundance of wildlife. Blue butterflies flutter on the breeze, buzzards circle high overhead and kestrels hover in search of small mammals. Moor Sands is an idyllic cove with silver sand or seek out Elender Cove, nestled in the corner of Gammon Head.
Bolt Head is wonderful for wild walks, and from Bolt Tail you can scan the sea for dolphins or just enjoy the neon blaze of an ocean sunset. On a warm day when the water is high, swim or snorkel out over the reef to Thurlestone Rock, the offshore arched stack. Swimming through the hole at high tide is a true rite of passage.
Heading west from Thurlestone beach, leave the summer hustle and bustle behind and find peace and tranquillity at Cowry Cove beneath the golf course and coast path. The shells on this wild, secluded beach are exquisite. And if you enjoy eating shellfish, try the Oyster Shack at Bigbury and sit outside in the sunshine. For liquid refreshment to the west of Bigbury and Burgh Island, visit the 13th-century Journey’s End Inn above the silver rocks and shale of remote Aymer and Westcombe Coves. Two miles further, at Kingston, is the oak-beamed Dolphin with a track down to the sparkling sands of the Erme estuary.
For those who love canoeing, the greatest adventures along this coastline are to be found by journeying up the four stunning river estuaries, known as rias – valleys that were drowned by post-glacial sea level rises. The Kingsbridge ria is dendritic (branched), with nine little creeks to explore by canoe. The Yealm is perhaps the most impressive with steep, forested sides, but the Erme is the most peaceful, with not a yacht or other craft in sight, and probably the wildest and most peaceful river estuary in the whole of the South West.