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Dog friendly Devon

There is no greater pleasure than running around on the beach- whether you are on 2 legs of 4!

South Devon is a dog lovers paradise, dogs are welcome in nearly all shops, pubs and cafes (some even have their own dog menus!) and the beaches are a dog walkers dream!

Here is our guide to the best dog friendly beaches in South Devon.

Beesands

Less than a mile from Beeson Farm, the traditional fishing village at Beesands is home to a mile long shingle beach from which you can take the coastpath towards Hallsands or Torcoss (both of which are also dog friendly).  Both the pub (The Cricket Inn) and the seafood café (Britannia at the Beach) offer the most amazing food, serving fish and shellfish caught in Start Bay. There is no lovelier spot to sit and eat whilst looking over Start Bay under the watchful gaze of the lighthouse. Beesands is dog friendly all year round.

Lannacombe Beach/Mattiscombe Sands

Start Point one of the most explosed penisulas on the coast and one of the best coastal walks in South Devon. The dramatic cliffs and coastal path forms a mile long headland running for almost a mile until you reach Start Point Lighthouse which has guided vessels along the channel for over 150 years.  To the west of Start Point you will find Mattiscombe Sands and Lannacombe Beach (the latter of which has a small carpark with parking for approx. 10 cars). Dogs are welcome on these beaches are you are likely to be rewarded with spotting seals basking on the rocky outcrops along the coastpath.

Torcross and Slapton Sands

Slapton Sands is a three mile long stretch of shingle beach which runs from Torcross heading towards Dartmouth. Completely level with easy parking (or walk from Beesands over the coastpath), dogs are welcome all year round. There are some great eateries where your dog will be made very welcome. Discover the fascinating WW2 history where the beach was used to practice for D Day or head into Slapton Ley nature reserve for a stroll in the shade of the woods alongside the Ley, the largest freshwater lake in the south west. Slapton Ley is a site of special scientific interest. The nature reserve covers 490 acres of woodland, marsh and reedbed habitats making it a wildlife haven for all types of birds and wildlife.

Mill Bay

Sitting opposite the waterfront town of Salcombe which lies across the water of the estuary, the beach at East Portlemouth is dog friendly all year round. A beautiful stretch of golden sandy beach (with a National Trust car park) it is easy to see why this is a favourite with locals and holiday makers alike.. The shallow and sheltered turquoise waters of the estuary are a great spot for paddling or a swim for you and your pooch. A favourite pastime with all children is to try and dam the stream which runs along the beach and into the Estuary. After a day on the beach hop on the passenger ferry and head over to Salcombe, one of the prettiest towns in the area and a water sports ad sailing hotspot.

Gara Rock/Rickham Sands

Park at Gara Rock itself or choose to leave the car at Mill Bay and take the scenic coastal path or the pleasant woodland walk up to the top of Gara where you will find the fabulous Gara Rock hotel (open to non residents) with its spectacular panoramic clifftop setting and delicious menu, its an ideal spot for a bite to eat. Head down to Rickham Sands, a beautiful secluded cove and a staggeringly beautiful coastline, dogs welcome all year round.

Bantham and Bigbury

Some of the most expansive sandy beaches in our area, both beaches are sandy with shallow waters but both are renowned surfing spots (both have excellent surf schools should you wish to learn!).

Bigbury (seasonally dog friendly) is home to the famous Burgh Island, which is accessible on foot at low tide or by the sea tractor when the tide is in.

Dogs are not allowed on Bantham beach from May-September but are allowed on the estuary at the southern end of the beach all year round which you can get to at low tide. As the tide rolls out at Bantham you will discover plentiful shallow rock pools perfect for adventures with little ones. Don’t forget your bucket and spade! Lifeguards are on duty from May to September.

After a day on the beach you can buy refreshments at the Gastrobus or head to one of the local pubs. Bantham has excellent facilities including a large carpark and public toilets.

 

Choose to stay at Beeson Farm in either the Trap House, which has a private garden , or one of our other dog friendly cottages and you will have the ideal base for exploring these beaches with your pooch. We would love to see photos of your dogs enjoying South Devon- feel free to share your photos to our Facebook page!

Start Point Lighthouse

One of our favourite family walks is down to Start Point lighthouse, on the most southerly headland in the country. The promontory has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), recognising the national importance of its geology, lichens, invertebrates, rare flowering plants, breeding birds (including the rate Cirl Bunting)  and an intertidal area of major biological importance (including some rare species of seaweed).img_3754

Park at the car park (charges apply in the summer months) and follow the path along the contours of the hillside, presenting sweeping views over Start Bay on one side (from the lost village at South Hallsands, to Beesands, Torcross, Slapton and beyond to Dartmouth) and the shelter of jagged ridge of prominent rocks on the other.

The Skerries (a rocky reef) extend 6.5kms off Start Point. At low water the bank is only just over 2m below the surface, the Skerries are well known as a good fishing spot but equally as a hazard to shipping. The coastline from Start Point to Dartmouth is strewn with shipwrecks of all shapes and sizes. One significant wreck nearimg_3766 Start Point found by a group of local divers contained a hoard of tin ingots and beautiful gold bracelets and shed new light on historians understanding of the trade links of civilisations during the Bronze Age. The hoard can be seen in the British Museum in London.

Following countless shipping disasters and heavy loss of life, the lighthouse was built to alert ships to the danger of Start Point and its surrounding rocks, most especially Black Rock and flashed its warning light for the first time in 1836.

The lighthouse is open to the public in the school holidays and on weekends (tickets for a family of 5 are £12- cash only!), you can check the details here http://www.startpointdevon.co.uk/open-dates.htm  Tours run on the hour and take approximately 45 minutes.

The story of the lighthouse unfolds as you ascend from the bottom to the lantern room at the top, accompanied by an incredibly knowledgeable guide. Our children were particularly fascinated by the stories of the families of lighthouse keepers who lived in the lighthouse until it was automated in 1993. Visitors can climb right to the top, under the light, from which the views are breathtaking. img_3767

We would recommend extending your walk and returning to the car park by way of visiting Mattiscombe beach (one of our absolute favourites), and from where you may spot dolphins, porposies and grey seals.