Man Sands (Kingswear-Brixham) | South Devon Beach Bible

By Ross Purdy on September 8, 2017

Here’s our free guide to Man Sands, a lesser-known beach between Kingswear and Brixham, located at the eastern edge of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Man Sands beach, between Kingswear and Brixham

Click a quick link below or read on for the full guide.

 

Quick links


Directions

Man Sands is a straightforward 10-minute drive from Kingswear (two regular car ferries operate from Dartmouth to carry you across the estuary).

However, using a postcode that’s widely given online (TQ5 0AJ) on your sat nav may be problematic, as – speaking from personal experience! – the instructions could lead you down Southdown Road via the outskirts of Brixham, and from here there’s no vehicular access to the Man Sands car parks.

Instead, using the postcode TQ6 0EF should lead you to Scabbacombe Road (although it’s advisable to check a map of your route first). This road becomes Woodhuish Lane, where the Man Sands National Trust car park is located.

The coordinate for GPS device users are: 50.367333, -3.529703.

The OS grid reference is: SX913530

  1. Leave Kingswear on the B3025.
  2. After 1.7 miles, turn right onto Broad Road, signposted for Coleton Fishacre.
  3. After just over half a mile, the road will bend left. Take the left immediately afterwards (marked by a dead-end sign).
  4. The National Trust car park is about a mile further along this road. (You’ll pass the Scabbacombe car park first, which would involve a longer walk if you stop here.)
  5. Carry on walking down Woodhuish Lane to reach the beach.

Parking

There are three parking options at Man Sands, all along Woodhuish Lane. All of these car parks are run by the National Trust. Honesty boxes are in place, with a suggested donation of £2.

  1. There’s a very small car park at the beach itself. This involves driving along an unsurfaced road, probably not suitable for vehicles with low ground clearance.
  2. Man Sands car park is just over half a mile away from the beach, down a moderately steep hill.
  3. Just over a mile away from Man Sands, Scabbacombe car park, which you’ll drive past first as you make your way down Scabbacombe Road/Woodhuish Lane, is located at the best spot for Scabbacombe Sands (a nearby naturist beach) but a good fall-back option for Man Sands if you can’t find parking elsewhere.

At a glance

  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Facilities: None
  • Lifeguards: None
  • Activities: None supervised, but great for rockpooling, picnics, sunbathing, and frequently used as a spot for launching kayaks.

Our guide to Man Sands

Being one of South Devon’s lesser-known beaches, Man Sands is surprisingly large, at over 500 metres in length when the tide is out.

Man Sands, looking towards Kingswear

The beach is mostly sand, separated into a couple of sections by hefty rock formations, and blessed with several natural alcoves at the rear – offering beachgoers an even higher degree of seclusion.

Rocks on the beach at Man Sands (South Devon)

Access to the beach is via two main routes. The South West Coast Path is the best way to see the scenery in this area, as is the case for much of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This stretch is one of the hillier, more challenging sections, but also amongst the best for dramatic views and for your chances of seeing some exciting marine life, especially dolphins which are often being sighted between Kingswear and Brixham.

The other option is to arrive via Woodhuish Lane, which leads directly to Man Sands. The small car park right by the beach has enough space for no more than half a dozen cars, but this involves driving down a rather uneven and unsurfaced track. The Man Sands car park, half a mile back up the hill, offers easy beach access (a half a mile walk), plenty of spaces, and is also in a good spot for a circular walk, with a map on-site explaining the route.

A haven for those who visit the beach for some tranquillity, Man Sands is ideal for nature-spotters, picnicking couples and those in search of some quiet time with their holiday paperback book.

The rockpools, which are numerous at Man Sands, also make this beach a good spot for scouring the shoreline for creepie-crawlies with the kids, especially at busy times of the year when the better-known beaches can fill up.

Rockpools in Man Sands

On the other hand, if everyone in the family likes to swim, although the water is quite shallow, be aware that there are no lifeguards on patrol, the rip tides are said to be powerful in this area and there will be lots of concealed rocks on the seabed, especially at high tide. So with young kids it’s probably advisable to keep to the rockpools and shallows.

Run by the National Trust, the beach backs onto marshland, which is rich in wildlife…

A flooded field behind Man Sands that's a haven for birdlife

… so nature-lovers will be glad to know there’s a beautifully maintained National Trust bird hide on site, offering free access to the public.

A bird hide behind Man Sands

There are no places to pick up refreshments or public toilets near this beach, so for most people Man Sands won’t be where they’re spending the whole day. Nevertheless, it’s spacious, wonderfully secluded and picturesque, especially for those who love the craggier, more rugged sections of the South Devon coastline.

Having so much space between so few beachgoers also makes Man Sands ideal for dog-walkers, as there’s all the room you could need to exercise your four-legged friend.

Walking a dog at Man Sands beach

In short, because of all its aforementioned merits, Man Sands probably should be better-known amongst South Devon residents and holidaymakers than it is. Ironically, if that were the case, perhaps fewer people would want to visit, since it’s the tranquillity that makes it so special.

Similar beaches

If you’re looking for rugged, similarly secluded beaches in South Devon, you might enjoy visiting Mattiscombe Beach, Lannacombe Beach, Soar Mill Cove beach or Seacombe Sands (Gara Rock Beach). For more on our favourite coastal hideaways, please read our article on secret Devon beaches.

Holidays near Man Sands

Located between Kingswear and Brixham, Aft Cottage (sleeps 6) is just a 10-minute drive from Man Sands, in a fantastic spot for exploring both the South Hams and the English Riviera.

Aft Cottage, between Kingswear and Brixham

This well-appointed three-bedroom terrace house provides pleasant views of the Dart Valley, has allocated parking, and boasts a lovely enclosed garden for making the most of our region’s famous microclimate.

Learn more about Aft Cottage.

Dartmouth, a short hop from Kingswear on one of two regular ferries (along with a separate passenger ferry), is a picturesque, historic harbour town and tranquil holiday destination, where Coast & Country Cottages offers over 120 self-catering properties.

Explore our stunning range of Dartmouth holiday homes.