dartmouth to torcross

south west coast path

wednesday, 14th september 2016

After yesterday's thundery weather it looks like today will be a lovely day for walking. Perfect autumnal weather.

Dartmouth low tide 10:36

Dartmouth high tide 17:11

I start the day just above the bank of the River Dart over the river from Dartmouth and head down the road to catch the Higher Ferry (I was robbed of 60p for the crossing!) over to Dartmouth. Dartmouth is shrouded in mist as I cross over the river.

dartmouth from the ferry

misty dartmouth

I depart from the ferry and pass the Floating Bridge Inn and amble along the waterfront into Dartmouth..

I continue ambling through Dartmouth before walking along the cobbled waterfront, passing Bayards Cove Inn and then through Bayards Cove Fort, a small Tudor artillery fort guarding Dartmouth's inner harbour. I climb steps to leave the waterfront and head through Warfleet Creek and towards St Petrox Church.

From here I head next door to Dartmouth Castle which, for over 600 years, has guarded the narrow entrance to the Dart estuary.

I pass above Castle Cove where dogs are being exercised. It looks rather inviting down on the sandy and shingly beach but my path heads upwards.

castle cove

I climb steeply and then the path zig zags out towards Blackstone Point, Coombe Point and then Warren Point. I have some final lovely views back to Dartmouth.

view back to dartmouth

I also now have fantastic views over to my destination for the day, Slapton Sands and Torcross.

destination slapton sands

I pass secluded coves on the way, there are numerous dogwalkers and the skies are full of housemartins, before I head inland to reach a minor road at Little Dartmouth.

I come across a small copper butterfly feeding on an oxeye daisy. Not my greatest ever photograph I've taken but it's only the third small copper I've seen this year. It hasn't been a great year for butterflies.

small copper butterfly

The hydrangeas in the lanes around here are looking lovely.

I come across walkers enjoying the early morning sun including one person in a David Bowie t-shirt. I come across clumps of ivy heaving with bees, wasps, flies and red admiral butterflies.

This road leads to the A379 which takes me in to Stoke Fleming. I barely stay on the A379 before heading up Ravensbourne Lane and then Venn Lane where I come across what must practically be the whole village playing boules. How have I magically managed to cross the English Channel and ended up in France?

I walk down lanes through the village, surrounded by rooks, and come out next to the Green Dragon and St Peter's Church.

the green dragon

I can't find any coast path signs so wrongly follow the A379 out of Stoke Fleming. I know I've gone wrong because further on down the road I come across a coast path sign pointing back to Stoke Fleming above the road. 

I continue along the road where I have lovely views over Blackpool Sands before the path ducks down between bushes and past the toilet block and out on to the beach.

view over blackpool sands

I have a potter around the sandy and shingly beach and there are quite a few people on the beach enjoying the beautiful weather. I wander back to the Venus Beach Cafe where I go in search of an ice lolly as I'm starting to get quite hot. They must be running supplies down for the winter as they don't have much choice so I settle for a strawberry mini milk. It doesn't last long!

blackpool sands

I leave Blackpool Sands via a lovely woodland path but when I leave the woods I find that conditions are sudden overcast. Huh?! I cross a steep grassy valley and have some lovely views one last time back over Blackpool Sands.

view back over Blackpool Sands

A rather circuitous route follows fields and paths to reach Strete where I pass the King's Arms (@KingsArmsStrete). As I recall, the pub was closed and to let the last time I came this way, but it is now renovated, run by locals and looking lovely.

the king's arms

I follow the A379 out of Strete but it's not long before I come across a new section of the South West Coast Path, only opened in July 2015, which takes me away from the busy main road. It's rather nice on this new section and I come across a pair of jays straight away.

The path takes me down towards Strete Gate picnic site and I pass a bench with magnificent views over Slapton Sands. The bench is dedicated to the memory of Philip and Mary Carter. Thank you Philip and Mary.

view over slapton sands

In memory of Philip and Mary Carter. Tireless campaigners for South West Coast Path and founders of the South West Coast Path Association.

I continue descending to Strete Gate and come across a small tortoiseshell butterfly feeding on buddleia.

small tortoiseshell

Even though it is getting quite late in the year, the wild flowers around here are looking lovely.

I pass a sign pointing up the bridleway where I used to come down onto Slapton Sands.

old route

I drop down onto Slapton Sands and trudge along the sandy and shingly beach. It has turned back into a beautiful day. I'm usually defeated by the shingle and blustery winds and head for a path by the main road but conditions are perfect today so I head all the way along the beach to Torcross. Actually, the beach isn't as shingly as I remember it.

slapton sands

Today's walking is over and I'm rather hot so I head to the Start Bay Inn (@StartBayInn) where I enjoy a yummy pint of Otter Brewery's Otter Ale. What a perfect end to a perfect day.

otter ale

We drive back to Dartmouth for some chips by the river with a beautiful view over to Kingswear.

view over to kingswear

beach collection


Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-

  • hydrangeas
  • pigeons
  • housemartins
  • great tits
  • buzzards
  • small copper butterfly
  • ox eye daisies
  • fuchsias
  • common toadflax
  • lords and ladies
  • robins
  • ivy
  • wasps
  • bees
  • red admirals
  • rooks
  • larches
  • holly
  • gunnera
  • red valerian
  • white valerian
  • sweet chestnuts
  • buddleia
  • jays
  • red campion
  • a small tortoiseshell butterfly
  • great mullein
  • musk mallows (I think)
  • perforate st john's-wort
  • common centaury


The podcast of today's walk is now available. You can subscribe via the iTunes store or listen using the player below.


According to my phone I've walked 11.4 miles today which amounts to 25011 steps. The weather has been glorious and the walking as good as it gets. I'm in a generous mood. Ten out of ten!

My total ascent today has been 488 metres or 1601 feet.



red admiral

blackpool sands

slapton sands