Gara Rock Beach, East Portlemouth, Salcombe, Devon

Gara Rock Beach is an unspoilt sandy beach below a headland of the South Devon coast, between Prawle Point and the mouth of the Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary. If you want to spend time here you need to know that there’s not a lot of parking close by – it’s limited at the Gara Rock Hotel, and if you park in the NT car park at Mill Bay you’ll have to walk for 2 miles along the South West Coast Path. If that sounds arduous, rethink it – imagine the spectacular coastal views and the bracing sea air; embrace the elements and remember how good it is for you to be outdoors with such fantastic scenery all around you. It’s good for the soul, is what it is, good for mind and body.

People pass the time at Gara Rock beach swimming and paddling, making sandcastles, and at low tide, exploring the rockpools. Children love it here because there are a few tunnels and tiny caves to discover, and among the rocks there are sheltered little nooks where you can hide away for a lazy picnic. It feels remote here, that’s the point, like it’s a well-kept secret, and locally, that’s pretty much how it is because nowadays most people prefer easy access to beaches and they like facilities, of which there are none here.

If you don’t bring a picnic, you can grab something to eat from the Garavan up on the cliff at Gara Rock Hotel, or stop off on the way back at Venus Café at East Portlemouth. It’s a different kind of beach experience when you come to the beaches this side of the estuary, it’s how things used to be and that’s good.

Wear sensible footwear because the walk down to the beach is steep and uneven in places. Dogs are allowed on the beach year round but you mustn’t light fires or have barbecues.

All information correct at the time of writing

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