An icy Christmas Day swim in South Devon has been a tradition for some time now, but in the...
Hallsands village is located within a tranquil Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, towards the Southern end of Start Bay. Boasting rolling countryside, thriving wildlife, a dog-friendly beach, access to the South West Coast Path and a famous historic lost town, it comes as no surprise that Hallsands village is one of South Devon’s most loved hidden gems. Hallsands has a very famous local history, dominated by the precarious position of the village and the somewhat relentless force of the sea. Just last century it was a thriving fishing village, but nowadays you will find the scene somewhat different…
Prior to the winter of 1917, Hallsands was a small coastal village that was home to over 100 residents, and enjoyed a variety of shops and a hearty pub. A strong sense of community enveloped Hallsands, and whilst life at sea was tough, throughout the 18th and 19th century it continued to grow from strength to strength as a fishing village. In 1894, the Royal Navy made plans to extend the Devonport Dockyard, and to help facilitate this, they significantly dredged the shingle at Hallsands. As expected, this dramatically altered the shape and angle of the beach, which went on to have life-lasting detrimental effects. Before long, cracks within the protective sea wall and houses started appearing, and a spring hide tide now came within just 3ft of the village. Despite petitioning, little was done to help the infrastructure of the village and the dredging continued. After nearly five years of dredging over 650,000 tonnes of shingle were removed from the beach, and in the years that followed, houses suffered significant damage – the pub even lost its kitchen, bedroom and cellars! In the depths of January 1917, a combination of severe gales, violent storms and a very high tide broke down the sea wall and the entire village (all but one house!) became beholden to the sea.
The site of the old village is located at South Hallsands, and whilst this is closed to the public due to unstable cliffs and continued erosion, you will find a viewing platform at the top of the new Hallsands village. Here you can take in the uninterrupted views of Start Bay, and learn even more about the history of the area. Documented in pictures, photos and words, spend your time learning about the village of Hallsands, its tragic history, and some of the finer details about what it was like to live and work in the fishing village during its prime.
Hallsands beach, (also known as Greenstraight), is the only remaining beach in the village of Hallsands, and this small shingle stretch can be found at the north end of Hallsands. One of the quieter beaches within Start Bay, it is the perfect spot for those in search of solitude and space. There are not the same numbers of amenities one would find at some of the other beaches in the area but, if you come prepared, there is no reason to why you can’t have a good time at this unspoilt beach. What it lacks in facilities, it certainly makes up for in historical interest, excellent walks and beautiful views! Dog-friendly year round, Hallsands beach is a popular destination for those with four-legged friends.
Despite its size and secluded location, you won’t find yourself short of things to do when visiting Hallsands beach. Locally renowned as a great place to go fishing due to its shallow beach it is a popular spot amongst keen anglers – plaice and bass are the target species in this area for those in the know. The calm, clean and crystal clear waters make it a popular spot not just for swimmers, but also for sea kayakers, snorkelers and scuba divers eager to explore the dramatic underwater ruins of the lost village. Take note that there is no lifeguard service at this beach so always take care when in the water. Equally, for those in search of rest and relaxation, it is the perfect place to simply sit back and unwind.
Accessible by car, Hallsands is well known for being a little off the beaten track, but it is well worth the trip For sat nav users, use the postcode TQ7 2EY. You will find a free car park at Hallsands, which is a huge bonus in the summer months! Whilst there is no bus service available at Hallsands, you can also reach the village by foot, or boat (if you have your own vessel).
Although located in a more secluded area of South Devon, Hallsands village enjoys a wealth of things to do for those eager to explore. First and foremost, the village is ideally located for walking, boasting a wealth of routes that navigate the South West Coast Path. The nearby villages of Beesands and Torcross are just a short walk away, or alternatively, head to Start Point and tour the iconic lighthouse. We have detailed the popular Beesands to Hallsands circular walk, so be sure to visit our guide for more details. Wherever you choose to tread, be warned, this section of the coastal path is extremely hilly, and can also be muddy – so either walking boots or wellies are advised! Just a short drive away are the bustling harbour side towns of Dartmouth and Salcombe, as well as National Trust Gardens and Woodlands Family Theme Park for those anchoring after something more interactive. For even more inspiration, download our comprehensive guide on Things to do in South Devon.
South Devon is the ultimate playground for beach lovers and is home to a variety of shingle bays, secluded coves and sandy expanses. Start Bay boasts a 15 mile stretch of coastline that is perfect for exploring by car, foot or boat, and encompasses tranquil golden shingle beaches, running from Start Point in the South to Warren Point in the north. Popular spots within the bay include Torcross and Strete Gate Beach, and Beesands which is a longer beach with facilities including a popular pub/restaurant, and excellent cafe, public toilets and a children’s play area, Beesands is just a short walk from Hallsands or a ten minute drive.
At Coast & Country Cottages we love the beach, so much so, we have created a comprehensive beach guide jam-packed with local information on the best sandy shores and shingle bays to visit in the region. Click here to download our South Devon Beach Bible.
At Coast & Country Cottages we boast an enviable collection of holiday cottages in Hallsands, from luxurious apartments with panoramic sea views, to larger properties overlooking Hallsands beach. Equally, we have holiday cottages in the neighbouring villages of Beesands, and Torcross, perfect for dog-friendly holiday cottages by the sea, coastal cottages and family holidays.
When the village of Hallsands succumbed to the sea in the storms of 1917, two sisters, Patience and Ella Trout, famously refused to let this misfortune get the better of them. They used their modest compensation payments to purchase land and secured a loan to build a hotel which continued to operate for three decades. Prospect House is now a complex of luxury apartments, two of which are available as holiday homes with Coast & Country Cottages. The properties boast panoramic sea views with Juliet balconies, and what’s more, they have access to beautifully landscaped gardens, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, all-weather tennis court and parking.