South Devon

An exhilarating and varied stretch, jam packed with maritime history, unforgettable seascapes, gorgeous beaches, lazy estuaries and characterful seaside towns. 

On this stretch, you’ll get to know places in Devon you never even knew existed and see other parts of the country through different eyes. From the vibrant waterfront city of Plymouth you’ll venture on into seemingly untouched areas of coastline with hidden coves, nature reserves and surf spots to boot. 

Before leaving the bright lights of Plymouth, we’d recommend taking some time to explore its historic docks. The iconic Mayflower Steps, where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World in 1620 is on the South West Coast Path and well worth a visit. From here you’ll soon be soaking up the scenery of the tranquil Yealm and Erme estuaries, both great spots for birdwatching and hot spots for sailors.

 

The charming seaside villages of Bigbury-on-Sea, Bantham and Hope Cove lie ahead. Don’t miss a trip out to the famous landmark of Burgh Island. You can walk across at low tide or hop on the sea tractor to explore this small island that is home to an art deco hotel originally built as a writer’s retreat for world-famous novelist, Agatha Christie. Bantham Beach is also one of the south coast’s best surf beaches, so if you have time take a lesson with one of the local surf schools or, if the sea is calm, take a stand up paddle board tour along the shore or on the River Avon creek.

Continuing on, it’s a challenging hike up and down steep valleys and across gorse-covered cliffs, with striking views down to the Salcombe estuary. If you have any power left in your legs, take a stroll around the subtropical gardens of the National Trust property, Overbecks, before descending into the chic holiday hotspot of Salcombe. This popular seaside spot is a foodie’s heaven, where you can enjoy fresh fish and seafood plucked straight from the sea.

Seal at Dartmouth by Pascal Mauerhofer

Cross the estuary and continue on your way to explore the exposed peninsula of Start Point, spot the ruins of the former fishing community at Hallsands, destroyed after dredging left the village exposed to sea storms and marvel at the unique landscape of the Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve. Ahead lies Dartmouth with its imposing 15th Century fortress Dartmouth Castle and Greenway, a National Trust house and estate once owned by Agatha Christie who described it as the ‘the loveliest place in the world’.

The final stretches of the South Devon section take you through the English Riviera, home to world-class fish and seafood thanks to the famous fish market at Brixham. From the nature rich headland at Berry Head, to the bustling towns of Paignton, Torquay, Teignmouth and Dawlish – this section is a lively mix of calm coastal walking and charismatic seaside resorts.  

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