This beach is minutes from Torquay but for some reason it’s taken us a long time to check it out. When we finally do go, it’s late in September and the ‘end of season’ feeling is extraordinary.
As we reach the final turn bringing the beach into view it’s evident that its completely deserted, save for a couple who are changing into wetsuits to swim. The silence and desertion is eerie, especially in contrast to the ‘standing room only’ we witnessed only a week or so ago at Maidencombe Beach.
Quiet, golden sands, only a few minutes south of Salcombe.
Sandy, sheltered, great for swimming and facilities nearby; it was just what we needed following our adventures to Gara. The National Trust has a car park right at the back of the beach, so no beach-hike today with all the baby kit.
During breakfast, we ran the days plans by our hosts Mo and Andy of the Welle House B & B. ‘That National Trust car park is £7.50, but you can park in a field on the hill for £2.00!’ I looked at Bec’s but already knew the answer; we’d be parking in the farmers field and walking down to Mill Bay. To be honest I was already warming to the idea. We’d save a Fiver and get to walk more of the fantastic South West Coastal Path.
Wild, unspoiled, beach beauty along the coastal path in South Devon.
A few months ago when our move to Devon looked like becoming a reality I bought this book, Wild Guide; Devon, Cornwall and the South West. Since then it has become the inspiration for our travels and the seeking-out of places less travelled, has really got it’s hooks into me.
We’d had our eyes on the rugged and remote coastline between Salcombe and Start Point and one beach in particular, Moor Sands. This place has seemingly become something of a mecca of the region for those seeking beauty and solitude. Without a boat its accessible only via an hour walk along the coastal path and when you reach it you have to make your way down onto the beach using the ropes provided!
This last point however was the reason why we, (along with Huey) would sadly not be going. Instead we settled on Gara Rock; sandy, rugged, unspoiled and only 20 minutes walk along the coastal path. The nearest parking is also the site of the new improved Gara Rock Cafe…
Finding the cafe was the first challenge. The sat-nav was not having the offered postcode and we navigated most of East Portlemouth before we got there. However we made it in time for lunch and as luck would have it, the morning’s early fog had all but burned away for our arrival.
Gara Rock had been my second choice, however as we stood at the cafe looking down to the beach, compromise was the last word on my mind. The view along the coast to the golden Gara beach (known as Seacombe Sands), is absolutely breathtaking.
view from Cafe ODE, Gara Rock
follow the stream to the Sea
After fortifying ourselves with the views and a brunch at the rather special gara rock cafe, we packed Huey in the sling and made off for the beach. The walk is steep at the top then a bit of a challenge right at the end, but perfectly manageable with baby and beach goods. You’ll want to come prepared though as unspoiled means no facilities, none at all. It is however totally worth it. Even on this glorious September day we were only sharing the beach with another dozen or so smiling faces.
I’ve noticed an odd phenomena in places like Gara; where the numbers on the beach are small people talk. Where numbers are high, people seem to largely ignore the crowds around them, but in a place like this people seem to open up and are keen to share their fortune at being in such perfect surroundings.
I got chatting to a chap who like me, had come with the intention of swimming. The swell however had made us both think twice; a point punctuated by the arrival of surfers later in the afternoon. Instead we both opted for the safer past time of being bashed around by the waves in the shallows, great fun!
Unlike the calm waters of Torbay that I have been swimming in of late the effects of the sea here were clearly unbridled. In the absence of lifeguards and local knowledge I have decided to adopt a ‘be safe and live to swim another day approach’. For those who know me, this may seem out of character; either I’m getting old or this is the ‘Huey effect’.
And what did Huey think of Gara Rock? Well for the boy who talks in smiles you can see for yourself here…..(safe to say, he absolutely loved it!).