Walk - Slapton Sands

3.1 miles (5.0 km)

Torcross Tank car park Torcross Tank car park

Easy - This is a mainly a flat walk on a path that might occasionally be muddy and uneven. There is one steep path down to Slapton Ley, but this can be avoided. 

This walk starts from Torcross, which stands at the southern end of Slapton Sands, a narrow strip of land and shingle beach which separates the freshwater lake of Slapton Ley from Start Bay. 

 To download our Access guide, click here where you can find additional mapping and photographs showing gradients, path surfaces and other detailed information such as parking and toilet provision.

Checked by SWCPA Volunteer – March 2022.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

WILDCOMFORT

Stay in our stunning sustainable Birdhouse cabins nestled above the idyllic Start Bay. Just a minutes walk from the coastal path & Blackpool Sands beach.

Seaflowers

A modern guesthouse on Frogmore Creek, Devon. Bookable privately for 14 guests, or a room-only basis to enjoy the luxury of a five-star hotel with shared facilities.

Leonards Cove Holiday Village

Leonards Cove is a picturesque holiday destination with a stunning clifftop location and amazing sea views offering self-catered, camping and touring accommodation.

Fairholme B&B

Fairholme is a small and friendly B&B just off the coast path famed for its excellent breakfasts.

Quarry Lake Camping

2 miles from SWCP, simple pitches on working sheep farm. Pub within 1 mile.

You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

The Billy Can

Great cafe stop off including retro sweet shop and arts & crafts. Refill point.

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Merlins Taxi

The best Taxi service in the south west ...Check me out at Google reviews and my website !!

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. The walk starts from the main car park just sounth of Torcross village, known as Torcross Tank Car Park.

In late 1943 Torcross was evacuated, along with many other villages in the South Hams area, to make way for 15,000 allied troops who needed the area to practice for the D-Day landings. In the early hours of 28 April 1944 a tragic incident happened here, during Exercise Tiger; nine German torpedo boats, alerted by heavy radio traffic, intercepted a three-mile long convoy of vessels travelling from the Isle of Portland to Slapton Sands to undertake landing rehearsals for D-Day. Two tank landing ships were sunk in the engagement and 946 American servicemen died. Poor communications led to badly-timed shelling on the beach, killing about 300 more men.

At the southern end of the Car Park you will find a a memorial to those who lost their lives during Exercise Tiger. This is sited near to an imposing Sherman amphibious tank; the operation to salvage the tank from the shallow waters of Start Bay was completed in 1984.

There is an easy access viewing platform at the far (northern) end of the car park at Torcross with views across Slapton Ley. Slapton Ley is the largest natural freshwater lake in south-west England and is 1.5 miles long The Ley is fed by streams and a small river, the Gara, The site is a National Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Geological Conservation Review site. The area is also within South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the South Devon Heritage Coast.

Leave the car park by the exit to the Coast Path at the northern end, furthest from Torcross village.

The walk follows the line of the South West Coast Path between the sea to the east and Slapton Ley to the west. This path is flat and has been made up but it is occasionally muddy.

  1. There are extensive views across Slapton Ley and back to Torcross from the Coast Path.

Over the years, the section of A379 road that runs between Torcross and Strete, known locally as the Slapton Line, has been heavily impacted by storms and coastal erosion, the rates of which are being accelerated by the climate crisis. On several occasions since 2001, the road has been damaged by storms and temporarily closed, with local councils and landowners working hard to keep the road open undertaking reactive repairs and major realignment of the road on two occasions.

  1. At Slapton Turn, follow the path as it joins the road. There is a car park opposite the wooden bus shelter. Pause to look across the main road.

The stone memorial adjacent to the car park commemorates the inhabitants of the nearby villages of the south Hams, who in 1943 were given six weeks’ notice to leave their homes so that the area could be used by troops practicing for the D-Day landings. 

  1. At Slapton Turn, leave the Coast Path and follow the pavement along the minor road towards Slatpton Village for about 100m, to the entrance to Slapton Ley Nature Reserve.Turn left into the nature reserve where there is a sloping path leading down towards the lake which gives views across the area.
  2. After enjoying the views of Slapton Ley from the Reserve, retrace your journey back to Torcross Car Park.

The Slapton Line Partnership has been working over the last two decades to support the community as it adapts to live and work with the changing coast, and to try and minimise the impact of future road closures on the community. In 2019, the Slapton Line Partnership published the Slapton Line Adaptation Strategy, acknowledging that Line will soon reach the end of its life, with no viable options for long-term maintenance or relocation. The Slapton Line Partnership now exists to:

1. Plan and deliver the Adaptation Project in anticipation of future change, including a range of activities to manage impacts and build on opportunities
2. Ensure that appropriate contingency and emergency response plans and preparations are maintained for responding to future storm and erosion events.

Highlights

Slapton Ley is an important site for some of the UK’s rarest flora and fauna, and is the site of a National Nature Reserve.

Slapton Sands also played a significant part in the lead up to World War Two’s D Day in 1944 when the beach and surrounding area were taken over by the allied forces to use as a rehearsal area for the D Day landings. For further information about the area, and more walks visit: www.southdevonaonb.org.uk

Public transport

Nearest bus stop is in Torcross village, with services from Kingsbridge and Dartmouth. These buses will also stop at the bus shelter near the turning point at Slapton Turn, should you wish to avoid the return walk. This is an hourly service at the time of writing (Autumn 2022).

Parking

There is ample parking in Torcross Tank car park, just north of the village. There are 5 disability spaces here and a further 2 spaces in Torcross by the side of the main road. Parking charges (for each of these) can be found at www.southhams.gov.uk/parking

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