Start Point and Mattiscombe Beach.

Start. Start Farm car park.

Route. Start Farm car park - Nestley Point - Start Point - Black Hole - The Warren - The Benches - Mattiscombe Beach - Mattiscombe - Start Farm car park.

Notes. The Anglo Saxons christened this ragged finger of land “Steort” meaning tail, and a tail of jagged rock it is, not ending where the salt water of the English Channel meets the impenetrable rock of the South Devon coast, but continuing under the briny forming a dangerous reef terminating in a sand bar only feet below the surface at low tide. Many ships have floundered on these hidden hazards, many lives lost, for that reason Start Point Lighthouse was built, a life saver since 1836. This short but rewarding walk not only visits the lighthouse but guides the walker through some dramatic coastal scenery to access a wonderful unspoiled beach. Mattiscombe Beach backed by rolling hills and low-rising cliffs, a place mother nature has sculptured rock into surreal shapes, towers and pyramids, a superb backdrop to spend a day lazing in the sun, but first you have to get there.

We got there via the South West Coastal Path, Start Farm car park marked our starting point. The access track to the lighthouse ushered us high above Freshwater Bay and Yellow Rock, stunning views up the South Devon coast accompanied our every step. Shear cliffs guarding hidden coves with sandy beaches stretched as far as the eye could see, there was even a lost village, Hallsands taken by the sea in 1917, the remaining buildings nestled under sheer cliffs at the head of what was once a shingle beach.

Once we'd had our fill of Start Point we re-traced our steps to the coastal path, we walked across the edge of The Warren, over the steep slopes of The Benches, above hidden coves with names like Bullock, Ravens and Peartree, we passed above Great Sleaden Rock and Sleaden Halftide and Frenchman's Rock before descending to Great Mattiscombe Beach, time to sit and enjoy the Devonshire sunshine. Later, much later we ascended from the beach to be welcomed by a finger-post inviting us to the car park. Through Mattiscombe we ascended a well trod path under foot, this deposited us back at the parked car. It may not have been a long walk but boy was it rewarding, give it a try, like us if you find yourself on the South Devon coast.

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Above Nestley Point with a wonderful view along the South Devon coast.

This is a view along the jagged edge where land meets sea, let the cliff edge carry the eye to the lost village of Hallsands, described to me as a "testament to mans folly". Just a few ruins remain, the rest, 37 houses and the London Inn were taken by the sea one stormy night in 1917, a tragedy caused by industrial dredging just off the coast to supply 400,000 tonnes of shingle to extend the Davenport Dockyard, in the end 650,000 tonnes were extracted, the navy got it's dockyard extention and the villagers lost their homes to the sea.

Standing guard over this dangerous stretch of coast, Start Point Lighthouse, built in 1836, this 92ft high tower casts it's light 21 miles out to sea, a saver of lives, and if you wish to rent the lighthouse keepers cottage it's a holiday let.

Looking to Beesands from Start Point.

Sue drinks in views over the oddly named Blackstone Lake to Black Stones and the English Channel.

Views taken over the steep slopes of The Benches.

We've been there, Start Point Light House on view over The Warren.

Across the watery divide of Lannacombe Bay, Lannacombe rises above a rocky foreshore.

Looking down on Mattiscombe Beach.

Surreal rock art on Mattiscombe Beach.

Looking to Limpet Cove from the western edge of Mattiscombe Beach.

Over a wonderful beach guarded by rocky headlands the long finger of Prawle Point reaches out into the English Channel.

looking back down our route through Mattiscombe.

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