Slapton Sands

A walk I should not have been here for. Instead I should have been driving north and walking up Glenridding Dodd and Sheffield Pike in the Lake District. However a simple, but huge, water leak in the property we should have stayed at, has stopped any hope of a week in Lakes. The phone call came about 10 hours before we were due to be in the car, in fact the car was mostly packed. I was devastated, one of my boys cried. Its perhaps in these times that you realise what is important and what you miss most. We, as a family, value this week above any other. A virus may have stopped us but in the end it was H2O. Plans changed and visits locally were made. I needed to get away and I stuck with the coastal theme that has served me well recently. This is a walk probably with more history than is made of in this area. Slapton Sands holds a key part in the Normandy landings, as it was one of the practice sites. For 6 months the US army barrelled onto this beach until they were ready. One awful day resulted in enemy Uboats picking off the soldiers readying for their D Day, 600 plus died just practising. This walk takes you along that beach and tells its story on a small board at the south end of the beach alongside a fine Sherman tank memorial. Maybe my loss for this week was put into perspective by this walk.

Start – Beesands parking
Route – South west coastal path – Torcross – Slapton Ley –  Slapton Sands memorial – Frittiscombe – Stokenham – Beeson – Beesands
Distance – 6.5 miles    Start time – Midday    Time taken – 4hrs 30mins    Highest Point –Somewhere around Frittiscombe 90metres
Weather – Sunny and then clouds building as the walk went on

© Crown copyright 2020 Ordnance Survey FL 2020 SF


Beesands and their big boulders. I guess for defence against the sea

Beesands which is just a lovely spot. Froward Point to the right in the distance. We will climb up into the trees to the left in a bit

You climb the woodland and get these great views back to Beesands with Start Point beyond

Plenty of Speckled Wood butterflies in here

We are descending out of the woodland with Start Bay in front of us. To be honest to this point all we had spoken about was the Lake District and spending the week with cousins. It was a walk we didn’t want to be on and we struggled to get the disappointment out of our systems

Slapton Ley, now this is a natural wonder of our country. Being separated from the sea by the shingle beach and bar to the right. Its the largest freshwater lake in the south west and home to bittern and warbler. The bar stops the sea from destroying this key habitat, but is under constant erosion from the tide. Such a special place

Slapton is also home to the practice grounds of the Normandy landings. Particularly the US practice areas. This Sherman tank stands at the south end of the beach. My eldest gave me every detail of this tank whilst we looked at it. The board on the right gave nothing like his figures of range, barrel size and armour thickness!!

Slapton Sands and bar. This road was repaired recently, back in 2000 when it was damaged by tides. The Ley to the left is in danger

All calm today as we look back to Start Point

The A379 on Slapton Sands. My eldest thought this would make a good F1 starting grid!!

Beautiful here at Slapton

A fine memorial from our US counterparts to the people of this area who gave up their houses, farms and grounds to enable the US Army to practice and hone skills, which were the key to winning WW2

Heading inland and looking back to Slapton Ley

My youngest took this and I quite like it

Not our finest faces but we are all here!

Now this fella was just by the path, I’m within 3 metres here. And it didn’t budge. A couple of dogs came from the other way and I asked the owners to put a lead on them. Which they did, still this fella would not move. Eventually on his own time he strode off and back to the the marginal areas around the lake.

The boardwalk around the Ley

Away from the Ley the road climbs, giving views back down towards the Ley and the sea and the gathering cloud

Stokenham church a lovely village

Its not tools that entice a Devon local!

Back round to Beesands now and this view to the beach and the smaller lake, with Froward point in the distance. The cloud has come in now but its still humid. To finish we grabbed a bite to eat from the fine crab shack by the beach and a drink from the Cricket Inn, to keep the local businesses going.


17 thoughts on “Slapton Sands

  1. So sorry to hear that your holiday plans were scuppered – that must have been devastating for you all. I hope you can get something else arranged. In the meantime, thank you for this post.

    All the very best to you and your boys.


    Simon Bird Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    • Its been a tough week, we’ve made the best of what we’ve had by visiting National Trust properties and a zoo. But the boys have missed their cousins and family. We managed a meet up near Tiverton (half way) for a few hours but you could see they needed more. We are looking at another trip for the family, fingers crossed.


  2. I hope you get your time in the Lakes very soon. I remember when Ken got the tank out of the water at Slapton. I talked to him a few times. Back in the 70s when I first got to know the area I would sometimes bump into Americans who’d trained there and returned for another look. In those days Operation Tiger and the appalling casualties in Lyme Bay were still an official secret. And I recall that there was so much lead still in the trees from bullets that locals were reluctant to use chain saws! I still think that part of the South Hams has a strange brooding atmosphere. More casualties than on Utah Beach on D-Day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So sorry to hear about your holiday, what rotten luck. 😦
    Your walk here is really beautiful and fascinating. Some friends of ours go camping to Slapton Sands alot, yet I had no idea it is so beautiful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s terrible having your holiday cancelled at such short notice. You’re lucky living in a lovely area where others take their holidays, but it’s not got those fells and mountains. A change is needed from tome to time. But it looks like you made the best of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry to hear about your holiday – what a b****r!
    I’d never heard of Slapton Sands until quite recently, but we listened to an audiobook version of ‘The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips’ by Michael Morpurgo and that’s based around that terrible episode. Then, just last year, I saw Martin Simpson live and he’s written two songs about Slapton Sands ‘Dark Swift and Bright Swallow’ and ‘Ken Small’ which is about the man who was determined to recover the Sherman Tank, come what may, both well worth a listen if you like guitar based folk.
    I’ve never seen pictures though – so this was most welcome. Thanks.
    The Heron is a surprise – they’re usually so shy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The heron was amazing, just sat at the side of the path, all brazen. The raised itself up and walked away in the opposite direction to us. Slapton is a lovely area, the beach is quite steep but there is plenty of history around the area. I liked the memorial which paid tribute to the locals for leaving the area to allow the americans to live in their houses which they trained. As for the Lakes, well I will be going back but I feel for the boys who have missed a week with their cousins, we met up in Tiverton this week, it gave them 4 hours together, but it showed what they had missed. 7 boys from 13 years old to 18 months, carnage!!


  6. Echoing all the other comments about the holiday. Must have been such a blow and hard to set it aside especially for the boys.
    In small compensation what a cracking little walk with some unexpected surprises like the Heron. The WW2 stuff as you say is a reminder of priorities and the important things in life.
    Yet another area I need to visit

    Liked by 1 person

    • Slapton is very good, nice a flat walking along the front for miles plus the history thrown in. The boys were devastated and we have got the money back and booked somewhere else for near to Christmas instead. We also met in Tiverton (half way ish) for an afternoon, it just showed what we had missed as they played, joked, laughed and made mayhem

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So sorry to hear about your holiday, and totally understand how disappointing it is. We were supposed to be in Arran for a family holiday with my parents and sister this week just gone. It was cancelled as we live in Manchester and are currently under tighter restrictions, so couldn’t travel to Scotland. Completely sympathise with how you were feeling.

    Glad you were able to get out with your boys. Looks like a beautiful spot, even if it wasn’t what you had been hoping for. Hopefully you will make to next family get together. Oh, and if it’s of any use for your get together, some of the YHAs are offering exclusive hire at the moment. Think it includes a couple in the Lake District.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that, will have a look at the YHA. It becoming tricky to find anything at a normal price due to the demand for staycations. This is also disappointing as I’ve not been abroad once in 12 years and a staycation is my normal thing. It grates to have to struggle to get anything just because those who normally go abroad want to holiday here now

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Yep, we’re exactly the same. We tried to rebook something for the week off, but as you say, there was little available and what was was so expensive. We’re lucky as my parents a static caravan in Wales, so we went there and tried to explore some different places. But it did mean my mum and dad couldn’t go.

    Hope you manage to get something sorted.

    Liked by 1 person

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