Explore & Discover

Explore the Surrounding Area

During your visit you will have the opportunity to explore and discover a wide range of jaw dropping landscapes, award winning pubs, fantastic restaurants, local events and activities, both within the Centre and the local area.

There are many walks in our local area and across the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty we are situated in. Made up of estuaries and country landscape, make sure to discover this area, its landscape and wildlife through these outstanding walks. 

From the AONB website(https://www.southdevonaonb.org.uk/walks/) you can choose from over 40 walks in the area and can view interactive maps. From a family stroll along Slapton (Torcross shore ) (https://www.southdevonaonb.org.uk/portfolio_page/torcross-shore-explorer-2-5m/) to the strenuous walk to Prawle Point along the coast for the most hard core among you (https://www.southdevonaonb.org.uk/portfolio_page/east-prawle-to-prawle-point/), the AONB has something to offer for everyone.

Visit Website

Here are some moderate circular walks 

East Portlemouth & Gara Rock. – 3.9 miles (6.3 km)

Beesands and Hallsands. – 3.7 miles (6.0 km)

Start Point and Great Mattiscombe Sand. – 2.2 miles (3.6 km)

Sharp Tor & Bolt Head. – 3.6 miles (5.7 km)

Slapton Ley. – 4.2 miles (6.8 km)

Prawle point is the Southernmost point in Devon. The Visitor Centre there offers a wealth of information for coastal walkers and is an inspiring learning resource for young visitors. Six panels with highly informative text and stunning photography cover ‘Looking Out to Sea’ with images of local features and oft-sighted vessels, ‘Wildlife’ depicting with amazing colour definition and close detail, the abundant flora and fauna of the area, ‘Prawle Point’s Place in History’ showing shipwrecks, battles, archaeological discoveries and the history of the station as a Lloyd’s Signal Station and coast guard base plus early stages of NCI occupancy. 

Chic holiday hotspot, from a salling port to Gin schools, country strolls,  to water activities , Salcombe has something to offer for the whole family. The town is vibrant with shops, some selling local produce, cafés and restaurants in the summer months. From the docks and the higher streets of this coastal town you can witness stunning views of the harbour and its surrounding countryside. The ferries from Mill Bay leave every 10 min from 9am to 6pm.

South of the town you can easily access two sandy beaches and enjoy water activities. North Sands is a family friendly beach with shallow waters for safe swimming as well as fine food. In South sands you will find Sea Kayak Salcombe for kayak and paddleboard hire.

The inventor’s Otto Overbeck former house and gardens now a National Trust Property, is worth a stop if you’re near Salcombe. The museum showcases some of the founder’s inventions and collections (art, toys and sailing boats) while the gardens contain a mix of tropical and formal english gardens making it a truly amazing experience.

Up from the Kingsbridge estuary, lies Kingsbridge, an old English market town with cobbled streets and old houses. Head up the high street to discover some of the town’s architecture and history. Shop at local shops and enjoy the cafes. Make sure to visit the Cookworthy museum, a noteworthy experience for the whole family. Through 9 galleries of interactive exhibits you will learn about this former Grammar School and learn about the history and social life of the area. From the top of the high street you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside. On your way back down make sure to check out Tailored Games, a board game shop near the bus station and information centre.

This old fishing village has now become a relaxed tourist destination. With its sheltered sandy beaches, rock pools and clear water, Hope Cove is a perfect place to enjoy the south west coast and all it has to offer.

Long stretches of sandy beach on the Avon estuary makes Bantham Beach a popular destination. Families will find shallow water, sand and sand pools at low tide to swim and play in. Surfers can count on waves. While walkers can enjoy the coastal footpath and surrounding Avon estuary. Car park from 3 pounds for the afternoon, 4 for the whole day. 

On the other side of the Avon estuary you can find more beautiful sandy beaches with stunning views on Burgh Island. Bigbury on Sea beach is also popular with families and those coming to the south for water activities with a surf school, paddle boat, wet suit & kayak hire on the beach. You can take a ferry across from Bantham Beach for 2.50, from 10 am to 11am and then again from 3pm to 4pm.

Visit Website

The alternative market town of Totnes is the perfect place to shop, discover local produce and learn about the area. The town square hosts a bustling local market on Friday and Saturday mornings. Totnes Castle, an example of Norman architecture is at the higher end of the High Street and from there, you can enjoy stunning views of the town and the surrounding area. 

From the central train station and across the river Dart you will find the South Devon Railway Totnes stop. From Totnes you can also enjoy a seven mile Great Western rail journey along the river dart stopping in 4 stations, Buckfastleigh, Staverton, Nappers halt and Totnes. All day tickets range from 10 to 16 pounds. Visit their website for more information https://www.southdevonrailway.co.uk/

Totnes is also home to the Rare Breeds farm (http://www.totnesrarebreeds.co.uk/about-the-farm.html). Here you can discover some breeds of animals you might not have seen before. While the farm’s main focus is conservation the informative staff and volunteers encourage human interactions with some of the animals.

The port town of Dartmouth is a yachting centre and has boatbuilding, light engineering, and pottery industries. Walking through the narrow streets and past stately homes, with some National trust and English Heritage property, is a perfect way to discover the culture and heritage of the town.

Upland moors with exceptional geological features make this area high on our list of activity days. The landscape makes it an ideal habitat for wildlife including redstarts, golden plover, dunlins, roe deer and the famous wild dartmoor ponies. Dartmoor is also home to many archeological features with standing stones dating back to the neolithic.

An amusement fair at the heart of 100 acre of woodland, Woodlands family theme park is the biggest amusement park in the South West. A great day out for those looking for thrill and adrenaline. Don’t forget to check out the Zoo farm on site with over 100 different animals.

Visit Website

Paignton Zoo is a registered educational and conservation charity.

On the edge of Dartmoor national park “Vibrant, lively and with a touch of mystery surrounding it, you’ll discover that Buckfastleigh is one of the most diverse towns in South Devon “ The main attractions include the Benedictine monastery of Buckfast Abbey (https://www.buckfast.org.uk/), the Butterfly farm and otters sanctuary (https://ottersandbutterflies.co.uk/) and Pennywell farm.

Home of the Ocean Conservation Trust, the Plymouth National Marine Aquarium exhibits over 5000 sea animals. The visit “ takes you on a journey around the different zones of the world’s Ocean, from the local waters of Plymouth Sound, all the way to the tropical seas of the Great Barrier Reef and everywhere in between!”19.50 for adults 14.50 for children.

Visit Website

A short 15-20 minute walk from High Nature, and just 5-10 minutes from the Gara Rock Hotel car park gets you to this sandy beach. With breathtaking views.  The last part of the path is steep getting down to the beach but well worth the effort. The Gara Rock Hotel sits high above the beach.  Suitable for swimming.  Refreshments available at the Gara Rock Hotel. Dogs permitted year round.

A little to the south of East Portlemouth beach is Mill Bay, a privately owned sheltered sandy beach popular with families because of the very safe and clean bathing conditions.  Access to the beach is from the South West Coast Path and private access path, tbut public access is signposted.  At low tide there are a wealth of rock pools to explore. There is a National Trust Car Park, but parking is limited.  High Nature guests can take advantage of enjoying a truly wonderful walk down through the National Trust Woodland along the path from the Gara Rock Hotel carpark. This is a private beach with rules regarding dogs, BBQ’s etc.  Please see the notice board on the beach.

Some of the best beaches along the Salcombe Kingsbridge Estuary are on the east side of the estuary around East Portlemouth. At low tide, these beaches combine to form one long stretch of sand.  From Mill Bay you can continue along the beach (at low tide) towards the ferry point.  There’s a slipway on the East Portlemouth side of the water. Small’s Cove is south of the slipway. Ditchend Cove is north east of the slipway. If you fancy a drink or bite to eat then pop up to the Venus Cafe which overlooks the coves.

You can also take the ferry across to The Ferry Inn for a pint. There are lovely views back to East Portlemouth Beaches (Small’s Cove up to Ditchend Cove).

Note that the water is tidal so the beaches expand and contract. Check tide times as it’s possible to get stuck at Small’s Cove if you’re not careful!

Sunny Cove is accessed either by boat or by a 10 minute walk through the woods from the parking at Mill Bay.

Situated on the East Portlemouth side of the Salcombe Estuary almost opposite Fort Charles, the remains of Salcombe Castle. The beach is beautiful, the waves are relatively gentle so swimming is a pleasure.

Great for building sand castles, enjoying lazy BBQ’s and catching the last of the sun as it drops behind Bolt Head.  Suitable for swimming.

Moor Sands (or Moorsand) is something of a misnomer as there really isn’t much in the way of sand here. The beach is in fact mostly made up of smooth pale-coloured pebbles and a few rocks. There is however a bit of sand below the high water mark.  It’s also gained a reputation for being a nudist beach, but don’t let that put you off!

This is one of the quieter corners of the South Hams and takes a bit of effort to get to. As a result it remains very much unspoilt and never busy. The beach is reached via the south west coast path either traveling west from East Prawle village or east from Gara Rock. It is a bit of a climb, with the aid of a rope ladder.

Moor Sands is a popular spot for swimming although there is no lifeguard and it is a pretty remote setting. The same goes for snorkeling and there are plenty of rocks and crannies just offshore to act as a haven for sealife.

A bit further along the coast you’ll find Maceley and Elender Cove.  Maceley beach is a sandy beach that disappears at high tide and sits under the protection of the high cliff of Gammon Head. Access is down a steep path from the coast path above and for the adventurous swimmers you can swim around to Elender Cove to the east.

Elender Cove is a picturesque sandy cove surrounded by rocky scenery including the impressive jagged bulk of Gammon Head. There are no facilities or parking on either of these beaches and final access is challenging. It’s worth noting that as the sun starts to go down, long shadows start to move across the beach so it’s best to get there early.  In peak season it is rather popular with people from Salcombe who like to visit and anchor their speed boats.  Off-peak it can be a private paradise.

Although it’s a small beach in comparison to some of the more expansive beaches further up the coast, Lannacombe is perfect if you want to leave the crowds behind and experience some of the best scenery in the area. There’s a small car park just behind the beach with room for up to 15 cars, so you’ll need to get there early to bag a space, but if you leave it too late there is further parking just a short stroll away. You can bring dogs to Lannacombe beach at any time of year, making this an ideal spot for the whole family.

Lannacombe is one of South Devon’s quieter beaches, tucked away from the crowds of holidaymakers that descend on the larger, more commercial beaches. Nearby there is also a small sandy beach called Ivy Cove, this can be accessed by climbing over rocks from Lannacombe and can also be accessed from the coast path.

Mattiscombe Beach, otherwise known as Great Mattiscombe Sands, is one of South Devon’s most secluded beaches and is the perfect bolthole if you’re looking for a quiet, sandy escape. The beach itself, found nestled alongside the South West Coast Path, is south-facing and a short 2km steep walk down from the Start Point Car Park. It is renowned for being a little challenging to access, but for those who are able, the reward is well worth the hike.  There are no facilities on the beach with the nearest toilet being found in the Start Point Car Park.  It’s popular with dog walkers as dogs are permitted year round.  This secluded beach is a haven for wildlife – grey seals are often spotted, and in late winter and spring you may be lucky enough to see one or two pups with them.

Hallsands beach, (also known as Greenstraight), is the only remaining beach in the village of Hallsands, and this small shingle stretch can be found at the north end of Hallsands. One of the quieter beaches within Start Bay, it is the perfect spot for those in search of solitude and space. There are not the same numbers of amenities one would find at some of the other beaches in the area but, if you come prepared, there is no reason why you can’t have a good time at this unspoilt beach. What it lacks in facilities, it certainly makes up for in historical interest, excellent walks and beautiful views! Dog-friendly year round, Hallsands beach is a popular destination for those with four-legged friends.  The atmospheric ruined fishing village of Hallsands stands as testament to the power of the sea and the danger of over exploiting natural resources.

Beesands is a small settlement located midway between Hallsands and Torcross on the coast of Start Bay. Beesands beach has won two important awards in recent years. The Blue Flag is an internationally recognised guarantee of excellence and indicates that Beesands has reached exceptional levels of cleanliness and safety. The Marine Conservation Society has also awarded Beesands a recommendation in the Good Beach Guide, so you know it’s good.

Directly behind the beach are the village green and a large freshwater lake known as Widdecombe Ley. These spots attract plenty of birds and wildlife, so pack your binoculars.  Surfing and bodyboarding are popular at Beesands, as are canoeing, sailing and windsurfing.  Beesands has a free car park close to the beach and there’s a beach shop and café where you can grab a drink and a light bite and pick up those forgotten beach essentials. There’s also a fishing tackle shop, as Beesands is a popular South West fishing spot.

The name of this beach is somewhat misleading, as it consists of a 3-mile stretch of shingle rather than sand. Slapton Sands itself is actually a good example of a coastal bar, being formed by rising sea levels during the last glacial period.  The beach plays an important part in the survival of some of the UK’s rarest flora and fauna where two ecosystems collide (fresh water and sea).  It’s the perfect place to explore and enjoy some beach time.  Walking south along the beach, towards Torcross, a Sherman Tank, recovered from around 3/4 mile out to sea, commemorates the ill-fated Exercise Tiger, in April 1944, when hundreds of American servicemen lost their lives in a disastrous “life-like” rehearsal for the Normandy landings in June of that year.  There are also some wonderful cafes.  Plus The Start Bay Inn serves some banging fish and chips!  You can find out more about the history of Slapton here on the AONB website: https://www.southdevonaonb.org.uk/explore-start-bay/slapton-sands/

From Landscombe Cove to the west is Forest Cove, another glorious inlet that is flanked by grassy cliffs with rolling fields as its backdrop. People shun Forest Cove in favour of more popular nearby beaches. There’s a steep climb down to the cove, but you’ll be rewarded with azure blue seas on a summer’s day, and an empty beach too.

Keep a keen eye on the tide times to avoid being trapped as there is no way off this beach, except to Landscombe Cove.

It’s an arduous climb back to the A379, but it is well worth it.

Blackpool Sands beach is frequently cited as the best beach in Devon, and with good reason. A privately owned crescent of coarse golden shingle set in a sheltered bay amongst evergreens and pines in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Blackpool Sands is one of the most popular family beaches on this stretch of coast.

Expect to find the crystal clear waters peppered with swimmers, kayakers and paddle boarders, and the shingle shores a myriad of ramblers navigating the South West Coast Path along with eager anglers. The centre of the beach, also home to the Venus Cafe, is the most vibrant, and the perfect spot to grab a bit to eat and drink.

Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months (July to September), they’re sand pits for building sandcastles, a shop and a Venus cafe serving organic and local food. Water sports equipment is available for hire.

First Aid facilities are also available. No dogs from March to October.

Situated in the beautiful village of East Prawle about a mile east of High Nature Centre, the Pigs nose is without a doubt our favourite and most recommended pub in the area. a very special smugglers inn dating back 500 years. With its unique atmosphere, lighting and decor it can sometimes feel as if you have stepped into a bygone world. Drinks and food come at an affordable price. Plus, if you’re lucky, you might catch a performance from one of the talented musicians often invited to entertain the diverse local and visiting community.

Visit Website

Located opposite The Pigs Nose, The Piglet Store sell all kinds of groceries while the cafe provide delicious sandwiches and home cooked meals all day. We also recommend the cooked breakfasts (just what you need after a night in the pub!). Please note that both the shop and cafe have seasonal opening hours.

Visit Website

Gara Rock Restaurant is just 10-15 minutes walk from High Nature Centre. Here you will discover a fantastic restaurant, with very friendly staff serving delicious meals and delightful desserts. A great place to head out for a special evening meal, or stop and refresh the batteries whilst you take in the breathtaking views along the South West Coast Path.

Visit Website

Located next to Mill Bay Beach with commanding views of the estuary and Salcombe. Serving drinks, sandwiches and hot food all day. Outdoor seating and takeaway are available. Open every day from 10am until 5pm from Easter to the end of October, with extended opening hours of 9am-6pm during July and August. Integrated into the Cafe is The Venus Beach Shop selling all the favourite games, buckets and spades.

For a fine dining experience we recommend the Cricket Inn. A 20 minute drive from the Centre and facing beesands beach, this restaurant offers high quality food with delicious fish, meats and vegetarian options as well as a kids menu. Josper oven. Bookings are advisable especially on weekends.

Visit Website

A family run tavern providing delicious local and sustainably sourced meals and drinks. This 14th century old fisherman’s hut is the perfect place to enjoy a local drink with fish and chips or another or their seafood specialties (vegetarian options are also available) by Slapton beach (30 min drive from the High Nature Centre).

Visit Website

Tower Inn lies In the charming historical village of Slapton, “in the shadow of the 14th century church” up from the middle car park. This beautifully decorated gastro pub offers traditional pub meals with a french twist as well as daily specials.

Visit Website

A perfect place to enjoy local seafood on the estuary. Take the ferry from Mill bay and then a 10 min walk through Salcombe  for this relaxed quayside experience.

Visit Website

So close to the beach you can have lunch in your swimsuit”

Visit Website

If you’re in Salcombe and looking for a pirate themed experience Captain Flints is the place to go. Here you can find homemade pizzas, pasta and burgers. You might even find treasure arrr…

Visit Website

Waterside brasserie on Salcombe fore street

Visit Website

Please see the AONB website for walks in the area offering information at different levels.

The walks page has simple directions and a map which can be opened on your device. You can print off a pdf of the walk which contains a map, directions and information on the wildlife, heritage and landscape of the area. Some of the walks have enhanced content with sound, images and video; links to these will be on the right hand toolbar of the walks pages.


Paddleboarding is a water sport in which participants are propelled by a swimming motion using their arms while lying or kneeling on a paddleboard or surfboard in the ocean or other body of water. 

Standup paddle boarding (SUP) is a water sport born from surfing with modern roots in Hawaii.  Stand up paddle boarders stand on boards that are floating on the water, and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water. 

We recommend a couple of local companies offering paddle boarding, SUP & Kayaking.  

The most local company to High Nature is Salcombe Paddle Boarding, located at Port Waterhouse in East Portlemouth.  You can book direct via their website: https://salcombepaddleboarding.com/

South Hams SUP WALK Adventures is a small family run business based in South Hams just 10 minutes from Bantham beach. They are an accredited British Stand UP Paddleboarding Association (BSUPA) registered school for touring and are licensed by the Salcombe Harbour Authority to carry out SUP tours. 


High Nature is located on the Sustrans National Cycle Route 28.  

Route 28 runs from Okehampton to Plymouth via Moretonhampstead, Newton Abbot, Totnes and Salcombe.  To find out more visit the Sustans website:

East Prawle Cycling Route: Trade and Settlement

This is a classic bike route through superb and varied scenery, along a nice mix of green lanes and country roads. Enough incline to get the blood circulating, and superlative views to reward the effort. It is a 12mile circular route over quiet country lanes; green lanes and bridleways. The terrain is moderate but there are some muddy stretches in wet weather. You can expect to encounter wildlife, local history and maritime history along the route.


Discovery Surf School in Bigbury-on-Sea is a family run business that is dedicated to providing top quality surf and SUP coaching. ‘We take pride in delivering our lessons in an environment that is safe, fun and suitable for all ages and abilities. Discovery is regarded as one of the top centres in the UK and our emphasis is on giving the customer the best experience possible.’



Bantham Surfing Academy offers a range of surfing lessons to suit all ages and abilities. ‘Our surf lessons are delivered by International Surfing Association (ISA)  and Surfing England (SE) Surf Instructors who hold a valid Lifeguard/Ocean Safety qualification who can teach you the basics right up to intermediate surfing levels.  Book your surf lessons today and we look forward to seeing you on South Devon’s Premier Surf Spot, Bantham Beach.’ 


Salcombe Dinghy Sailing is operated by Ross and Zoe.  They offer sailing in Salcombe, activities on the water, sailing courses, children’s taster sessions, and private sailing lessons are also available.

Salcombe Dinghy Sailing is an accredited RYA Training Centre, RYA OnBoard Centre and RYA Sailability Centre. We provide informal and formal Sailing lessons, and RYA Courses for children, adults, families, groups, local schools and people with disabilities.


Salcombe Boats and Boards

‘Enjoy the best Salcombe has to offer in one of our self-drive hire boats. Whether you wish to explore the estuary, visit Kingsbridge, visit a pub for lunch or hang out on the beach with your family; we have the boat for you. No experience or qualifications are required; we will show you the ropes, where you can go and we will be at the end of the phone if you need us.



Salcombe Launch Co. 

The Salcombe Launch Company offers motor launches for self-drive hire between May 1st – October 1st. ‘We provide an authentic boating experience, combining traditional craftsmanship with modern reliability. Our fleet of clinker launches are perfect for exploring the Salcombe Estuary, waterside pubs and secluded beaches on offer.’


We are situated within an area of 340 square kilometres (131 square miles) of coastline, estuaries and countryside designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) 

From meadows and orchids, woodlands and green lanes, freshwater lagoons with marsh and reed beds and sheltered estuarine water the AONB is the most habitat rich area locally and is home to a diverse wildlife. You can find in the estuary eelgrass and birds such as mute swans, great crested and grey herons and little egrets, little grebes and goldeneyes, gannets, cormorants and curlews along the coasts and sand beds and finally you might get lucky and spot dolphins, seals or basking sharks in the waters. It’s no wonder that 6 areas within the AONB were classified as Special Area of Conservation and 18 sites as Site of Special Scientific Interest including 2 Local Nature Reserve!

To appreciate this area we suggest checking out the AONB website for more information including walks.

Visit Website

The Centre is just a few minutes walk from the longest National trail along the coast (630 miles!), providing visitors with miles of dramatic coastline. If you walk east from the Centre you will discover some beautiful coves and Prawle Point, Devon’s southernmost extremity. The Visitor Centre there offers a wealth of information for coastal walkers through an inspiring learning resource for young visitors. With six panels of highly informative text and stunning photography you can learn about the wildlife, the archeology and history of the area. From there you can continue along the coast and up to the facilities at East Prawle.

Heading West from the Centre, you will arrive at Sunny Cove and Mill Bay where you can take a ferry across to Salcombe and continue along the South West Coast Path, past the National Trust Property ‘Overbecks’ and towards Hope Cove. The path then goes on all the way around Cornwall to North Devon. Ferries to and from Salcombe run from 9am to 6pm daily.

Part of the National Trust, the stunning beaches of Mill Bay are nestled within woodland. You can walk in the shade surrounded by an almost temperate tropical forest.

Slapton Ley is a natural lake separated from the sea by a narrow strip of land and is the largest natural lake in south-west England. This fresh water area is surrounded by reedbeds, marshes and woodland creating ideal habitat types such as open water, scrub, grassland and woodland to many bird species such as citti’s warbler, cirl buntings, great crested grebes and starlings. The Slapton Ley reserve website provides information on walks along Slapton Ley and its wildlife.

Visit Website

‘The first settled farming communities occurred during the Neolithic period between 6,500 and 4,500 years ago but the most obvious indication of early settlement is of extensive Bronze age coaxial field systems laid out on a grand scale between 3,900 and 3,200 years ago. Evidence of the long parallel field boundaries running northwards from the coastline between Portlemouth Down and Decklers Cliff and a similar system near Prawle Point can still be seen today.’


With its rich history and heritage, South Devon has some beautiful historical buildings that are open to the public; from castles and forts to manor houses and even pubs.


The amazing geological heritage of Torbay is recognised by UNESCO through the Global Geopark designation.  Kents Cavern, prehistoric cave, home of ancient humans, award winning visitor attraction in Torquay – with tours, shop, cafe and visitor centre. Go back to a time when the cave was home to ancient humans, sheltering from weather, making fires, shaping tools and hunting Ice Age animals. 


Dartmoor National Park is a vast moorland where Dartmoor ponies roam its craggy landscape, defined by forests, rivers, wetlands and tors (rock formations). Trails wind through valleys with Neolithic tombs, Bronze Age stone circles and abandoned medieval farmhouses. The area is dotted with villages, including Princetown, home to Dartmoor Prison used during the Napoleonic Wars.  Wild, open moorlands and deep river valleys, with a rich history and rare wildlife, Dartmoor is a unique place and a fantastic day out being only a 50 minute drive from High Nature.  We suggest you start early to make the most of this amazing landscape.



The High Nature Centre, East Portlemouth, Salcombe, TQ8 8PN

google maps insert