An icy Christmas Day swim in South Devon has been a tradition for some time now, but in the...
Mothecombe Beach is an unspoilt, sandy beach on the South Devon coast. Quintessentially British, it provides a popular playground for those looking to undertake some classic seaside fun and games. With soft golden sand, shallow bathing waters and small secluded coves, visitors enjoy swimming, rockpooling and picnics in abundance. With all the components for a perfect day at the beach, whether you’re coming alone, with friends, as a couple or with a young family, it’s no surprise that Mothecombe is a much loved place to visit.
Jump to a section using the quick links below or read on for the full guide, which is part of our South Devon Beach Bible series.
Where is Mothecombe Beach?
What activities are there?
Food and drink
Is Mothecombe beach dog-friendly?
Holiday cottages near Mothecombe Beach
Mothecombe Beach is privately owned (part of the Flete Estate), and is situated at the mouth of the Erme Estuary. Set within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s one of the quieter beaches in the region and is perfect for those looking to escape the crowds, especially during the busier summer months.
Mothecombe Beach postcode:
For sat nav users, enter the postcode PL8 1LB for the Mothecombe Beach car park
Mothecombe Beach is a little over 18 miles from Salcombe, and we recommend the following route:
Dartmouth is a 23 mile journey from Mothecombe Beach, and we recommend the following route:
With space for over 500 cars, there is generous parking at Mothecombe Beach. However, do be mindful that during high season the carpark can get busy, so it’s best advised to arrive early and secure your spot for the day. The car park is open daily until late, for exact closing times check with the car park attendant upon entry. Parking is £4.50 per day, or £2.50 after 3pm, and charges apply from 30th March through until 30th September. The car park hut takes cash only, and there is no cashpoint around for a few miles, so be sure to bring a pocket full of change with you.
Despite being privately owned, Mothecombe Beach is open to the public every day, year-round. This large, enclosed sandy beach is backed by sand dunes, rolling farmland, and sheltered woodland. At low tide, the beach really comes into its own, with fine sand and safe, shallow bathing waters. What’s more, both sides of the beach reveal rocks which are perfect for exploring, climbing and crabbing.
From the carpark, the beach is a steady 500m downhill walk via a gravel woodland path, and takes around 10 – 15 minutes by foot. The route is suitable for little legs, and all terrain buggies, however wheelchair access can prove a little difficult.
Also owned by the Fleet Estate, Coastguards Beach is open to the public every day, year-round. This estuary mouth beach is accessed via a narrow road and slipway, making it much more accessible for wheelchairs, buggies, and surfers eager to explore the coastline!
When the tide is low, the hard sand stretches for at least half a mile, however, when the tide is high the beach is almost completely flooded. Be sure to check the tide times beforehand!
Coastguards Beach is dog-friendly all year, and makes a great alternative to Mothecombe Beach when the seasonal dog ban is in place.
The lesser known South Devon beach of Wonwell can be found on the opposite side of the estuary. This tidal beach is dog-friendly year round and despite being a little tricky to reach (at times!), it is a firm favourite amongst both holiday makers and local residents.
To reach Wonwell Beach, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can wade across the channel at low tide. At either side of the estuary you will find information panels with aerial photos showing the best route across:
Current advice is to cross within an hour of low tide, otherwise the channel quickly becomes too deep. If you do happen to misjudge the tide, then don’t worry, you can either walk around the estuary, which is a lengthy 8-mile walk along minor lanes, or call Wembury Cars (01752 863710), who frequently transport walkers around the South Hams estuaries. Alternatively, drive to the beach via Kingston, keeping in mind that there is limited parking that can be found on the road.
The South West Coast Path website has further details about crossing the rivers and advises planning your journey carefully. The BBC website has up to date information on the River Yealm Entrance tide times.
There are no supervised activities or lifeguards at Mothecombe Beach (or Coastguards Beach or Wonwell), regardless, this beach provides ample opportunity for those looking to undertake some classic British seaside fun and games. Year-round activities include those such as:
The Schoolhouse is a thriving restaurant, and a favourite eaterie amongst food lovers in the area. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, (and plenty of cake in-between!), the menu ranges from freshly-baked cakes to hot seafood platters brimming with lobster and langoustines. The restaurant is open year-round, from 10am until late. View the full menu, including takeaway options, here.
Welcoming sandy feet (of all ages!) and well behaved dogs, expect a relaxed and friendly atmosphere when you visit the Schoolhouse. Customers are kindly asked to call if they would like to make a reservation (which is highly advised as the indoor space is limited), 01752 830552.
For those that would rather observe the beach from the coast path, Mothecombe is ideally situated for some fabulous coastal walks, with stunning views. Located on an a perfect spot along the South West Coast Path to choose from a range of hikes, there is something to suit all ages and abilities. Walk from Mothecombe to Noss Mayo or Stoke beach, or head in the opposite direction towards Bigbury for a more strenuous 10 mile hike!
Dogs are not permitted on Mothecombe Beach between 1st May – 30th September, but they are allowed on both Coastguards Beach and Wonwell Beach year round. Due to the tidal nature of these beaches, be sure to time your dog walk according to the tides, or you may end up with a rather disappointed four-legged friend! If you’re unsure on the dog policy, then ask the gatekeeper upon arrival for guidance. Try to remember best practice, and always pick up after your dog.
In South Devon, we have some of the best beaches in the country, right on our doorstep. With such a great selection of sweeping beaches and sandy coves, it can be difficult to know where to visit during your break. Take a look at our South Devon Beach Bible to find out more about South Devon’s best beaches. Some of our favourite spots within close proximity to Mothecombe include:
Also located in the village of Kingston is Lower Great Torr. This attractive period farmhouse has been recently refurbished to a high standard, whilst retaining charming features such a woodburning stove and feature fireplace. This pet-friendly countryside retreat has three bedrooms sleeping six guests, providing an ideal base for a coastal family break. Guests can enjoy a spacious, sociable open-plan kitchen and dining room, plus a large garden boasting rare plants.
Seaspray (Bigbury-on-sea) is ideally located for beach-lovers, and is situated just a few minutes walk from the beautiful sandy beaches of Bigbury and Bantham.
The property enjoys stunning views across Bigbury Bay, and sleeps up to eight guests, making it a great base for families and couples wishing to holiday in this popular area of South Devon.
2 Avon Quillet is a comfortable and well presented first floor apartment, with panoramic views across Bigbury Bay towards the River Avon, Burgh Island and out to sea.
This three bedroom property is an ideal retreat for couples or a young family seeking holiday accommodation close to popular sandy beaches.