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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.

At a glance:

  • Dog-friendly: Seasonal
  • Facilities: Public toilets and thriving restaurant enjoying sea views
  • Lifeguards: None
  • Activities: None supervised, but great for rockpooling, picnics, sunbathing, and swimming

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.

Quick links

Where is Mothecombe Beach?

Parking

Facilities

The beach(es)

What activities are there?

Food and drink

Is Mothecombe beach dog-friendly?

Walking

Similar beaches

Holiday cottages near Mothecombe Beach


Where is 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.

Directions:

Mothecombe Beach postcode:

For sat nav users, enter the postcode PL8 1LB for the Mothecombe Beach car park

Directions to Mothecombe from Salcombe

Mothecombe Beach is a little over 18 miles from Salcombe, and we recommend the following route:

  1. Leave Salcombe on Salcombe Road (A381), passing through Malborough and following signs towards Kingsbridge
  2. After four miles, take the left hand turning to stay on A381
  3. At the roundabout, continue straight ahead (second exit) onto A379
  4. Continue on A379 road passing through Aveton Gifford, Modbury and crossing the River Erme
  5. After 8.5 miles, take the left hand turning signposted towards Mothecombe
  6. Stay on this road all the way to the beach carpark. Whilst this road is unnamed, the signpost will lead you straight to the beach carpark, which is just a little over 3 miles.

Directions to Mothecombe from Dartmouth

Dartmouth is a 23 mile journey from Mothecombe Beach, and we recommend the following route:

  1. Leaving Dartmouth up College Way, go straight ahead at the first roundabout, heading towards A3122
  2. Drive along A3122 for 13.3 miles
  3. At the BP Garage, turn left onto A381 for half a mile, then turn right onto Short Lane
  4. Turn left and continue for 4.5 miles, before turning left onto B3196
  5. Take Chapel Down Lane End to A379 in Modbury
  6. Turn right onto A379, and continue on this road, crossing the River Erme
  7. After 3 miles, take the left hand turning signposted towards Mothecombe
  8. Stay on this road all the way to the beach carpark. Whilst this road is unnamed, the signs will lead you straight to the beach carpark, which is just a little over 3 miles.

Parking:

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.

Facilities

  • Public toilets are provided at the Schoolhouse restaurant (located in the car park area). There are no further toilets, so try and visit the facilities before heading down to the beach.
  • The Schoolhouse is a thriving restaurant, and boasts great views, sumptuous food and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, they also have a comprehensive takeaway menu, perfect for those that would rather dine on the beach.


The beach(es)

Mothecombe Beach

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.

Coastguards Beach

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.

Wonwell Beach

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.


Activities:

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:

  • Paddling and swimming
  • Beachcombing, rock-pooling and rock-climbing
  • Surfing and bodyboarding (it’s great for beginners here as the waves are small in size with very little current in the water)
  • Sandcastle building and beach cricket
  • The Erme Estuary is managed as a nature reserve and provides a roosting ground for many species of bird. Bring your binoculars and get twitching, keeping your eyes peeled for egrets, heron, kingfishers and oystercatchers.


Food and Drink

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.

Find out more


Walking to and from Mothecombe Beach

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!


Is Mothecome Beach dog-friendly?

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.


Similar beaches

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:

Bigbury-on-sea Beach
Bantham Beach
Ayrmer Cove


Holiday cottages near Mothecombe Beach

Great Torr Barn, located in Kingston, is an extremely comfortable barn with a separate, private indoor heated swimming pool. Mostly reverse level, the accommodation is split over two floors and is very well presented and equipped. With five double bedrooms, the property sleeps up to ten guests, and is the perfect destination for families, or larger groups of friends eager to explore the South Devon coastline.

Great Torr Barn, Kingston, Devon

Find out more about Great Torr Barn

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.

Lower Great Torr Kingston Devon

Find out more about Lower Great Torr

Best of all, these two properties are just under a mile from Wonwell Beach, and a five-minute walk from the local (16th century) pub!


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.

Seaspray, Bigbury, Devon

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.

Find out more about Seaspray 


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.

2 Avon Quillet, Bigbury, Devon

This three bedroom property is an ideal retreat for couples or a young family seeking holiday accommodation close to popular sandy beaches.

Find out more about 2 Avon Quillet