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The South Hams & Devon’s far south - A view from our expert author
Slapton Sands © Andrew Roland, Shutterstock
Here you can hire a boat and putter around the estuary, select some of the most scenic stretches of the South West Coast Path, or spend the day on a few of the prettiest sandy beaches in the county.
The name South Hams probably derived from the Saxon hamm, which meant peninsula but also a homestead or village. Some take it literally, and there are plenty of piggy references in the coastal landscape here: Pig’s Nose, Ham Stone, Gammon Head.
The extreme south of Devon described here has its roots planted firmly in the sea; the coast and all it can offer is the magnet for visitors here, with Salcombe its epicentre. From here you can hire a boat and putter around the estuary, select some of the most scenic stretches of the South West Coast Path, or spend the day on a few of the prettiest sandy beaches in the county. With sea and sand and endless rock pools to investigate, it’s an enduringly favourite family destination.
Coming from Dartmouth in the east, the first place of special interest is Slapton, with its long beach that played the part of Normandy during the war. But hereafter visitors gravitate south, beneath an imaginary horizontal line drawn through Kingsbridge. Here, in the South Hams, Devon points two knuckles towards Brittany, bifurcated by the estuary up which a weekly steamer used to carry merchandise to and from Kingsbridge, and which is now served by a passenger ferry.
Among a clutch of likeable and highly photogenic villages on the west coast are Thurlestone and the enchantingly named Inner Hope. Then cross the River Avon, with its trick pronunciation, to reach Bigbury-on-Sea and walk or take the sea tractor to Burgh Island.