Walk - Salcombe to Torcross

12.6 miles (20.3 km)

Salcombe Main Car Park - TQ8 8DU Torcross

Moderate - Strenuous

This section of the South West Coast Path is particularly tough, but the spectacular views are certainly very rewarding. Passing out of the shelter of the Salcombe Estuary, you emerge onto a rugged, undeveloped section of coast, much of which is managed by the National Trust.

The path crosses high cliffs to Prawle Point, passing beautiful sandy beaches below, which may tempt you down for a swim. From here you pass extraordinary geological formations. This stretch of coast has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and supports a variety of rare flowers and breeding birds, as well as being one of the few sites in the UK used by the very rare cuckoo bee Nomada sexfasciata.

On windy days the sea crashes wildly against the rugged rocks and these cliffs have claimed many wrecks over the centuries, including the Demetrios in 1992 and one near Moor Sands which is believed to date from the Bronze Age. After a fairly rocky, exposed stretch to Start Point, the Path becomes more level on its journey to Torcross, with just one steep climb near the end. At Torcross your efforts are rewarded with some good restaurants and pubs close to the sea.

Interactive Elevation


  • The ferry crossing from Salcombe to East Portlemouth. The ferry runs daily throughout the year. For more details tel: 01548 842061/842364.
  • The view down to Elender Cove from Gammon Head.
  • Views from Prawle Point: with a name meaning ‘lookout hill’ it is no wonder that this headland, which is the most southerly point in Devon, has been an important viewpoint for centuries. National Coastwatch volunteers run a watch house here.
  • The impressive rocky platforms reaching out to the sea, cut by the waves in the last Ice Age.
  • Looking out for cirl buntings: thanks to the work of local farmers, the RSPB and Natural England, these once threatened birds are returning to the fields and hedgerows around Prawle Point. Farmers leave the fields uncultivated over winter and the remains of crops provide a valuable source of food for these and other birds.
  • Having a picnic on the beautiful sands of Lannacombe Beach or Great Mattiscombe Sands.
  • The exhilarating feeling of reaching the exposed peninsula of Start Point and looking over Start Bay opening up ahead. On a clear day it is even possible to make out the Isle of Portland on the horizon.
  • Hallsands: the ruined fishing village of Hallsands had been precariously built between the cliffs and the sea and was destroyed by storms in 1917, leaving just a view gable ends. Debate has raged ever since about whether offshore dredging of shingle for the construction of Devonport dockyard caused the disaster and you can find out more about this on the Hallsands website. The cliffs and ruined buildings here are also home to a colony of breeding kittiwakes.
  • Beesands and Widdicombe Ley: the freshwater lake and surrounding grassland supports a variety of wildlife. There is a bird hide here and more than 180 species of birds have been recorded.
  • Throwing pebbles in the sea at Torcross at the end of an exhilarating day of walking. There is a memorial here to all the locals who evacuated their homes to make way for allied troops preparing for the Normandy landings.
  • The American Sherman tank memorial commemorates the hundreds of US servicemen who died here during Operation Tiger when they were attacked by German boats.

Places of interest

  • Exploring the Salcombe-Kingsbridge Estuary which provides a variety of habitats for many different species of birds, such as gannets, curlews, grebes and mute swans.
  • The Parish Church of Saint Winwaloe, inland in the village of East Portlemouth. This church has retained some of its 12th century structure and has a beautiful 15th century rood screen.
  • Start Point Lighthouse: follow the footpath 1/4 mile each way down to the lighthouse, which is open to visitors at peak times throughout the year, and the lighthouse keepers cottages are now let as holiday cottages.

Shorter option

It is difficult to shorten this section due to the lack of accommodation and bus services. You may like to walk a short section out and back from Salcombe.

Longer option

Continue to Strete (an additional 3.4 miles, 5.6 km).

Nearby refreshments

At East Portlemouth, beside the ferry landing stage is the Venus Beach Cafe which serves high quality local produce at reasonable prices. Further on, refreshments are available at Gara Rock (seasonal), Hallsands, Beesands and at Torcross, which has a small selection of pubs, restaurants and shops.

Public transport

The nearest train stations are Totnes and Plymouth. Both both towns you can catch buses to Salcombe (change at Kingsbridge) and Torcross. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

The ferry from Salcome to East Portlemouth runs daily throughout the year - see our estuaries and ferries page for more information.


Salcombe, East Portlemouth, Mill Bay, Gara Rock, Prawle Point, inland in East Prawle, Lannacombe Beach, above Shoelodge Cove, Hallsands, Beesands and Torcross.

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