Contributor Review – Elizabeth Turner
Local Expert. Visited 2023
Located at the ‘Strete Gate’ end, Slapton Sands is a naturist’s dream and is often touted as one of the UK’s top nude beaches. It not only rivals the best in the UK but also competes fiercely with other nude beaches across Europe. Once you’ve parked, head north or simply turn left when facing the sea. This section is a well-known haven for naturists, allowing you to be as clothed or unclothed as you feel comfortable. And amidst your relaxed sunbathing, don’t be surprised if you spot seals or dolphins playfully swimming by. The beauty here is the acceptance; whether you’re wrapped up or baring it all, the sands embrace you just the same.
Gaining a solid reputation among the locals from villages like Kingsbridge and the ever-bohemian ‘hippy town’, Totnes, Slapton Sands attracts a diverse crowd. From keen fishermen to curious day-trippers, from studious ecological students to spirited party-goers, and not forgetting the ever-enthusiastic metal detecting aficionados, dog walkers, and the backbone of this beach, the nudists.
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The feeling on this beach is hard to pin down, but it’s a blend of wild, expansive freedom. With the wind tousling your hair, pebbles massaging your feet, and the sight of varied enthusiasts, it’s a treat. Spanning three miles, it’s a part of the ‘Start Bay’ coastline, known for its pebbly texture. As evening approaches, the Start Point lighthouse becomes a scenic highlight, casting its beacon across the vast expanse. If you’re planning on exploring the entire length, do plan ahead—it’s a long but rewarding trek. For those looking for amenities, Torcross in the south offers food options and even a yoga and massage studio, perfect for a post-beach relax. Strete Gate, a bit simpler, has a beach hut and toilet.
Strete Gate, as evening falls, becomes a hub for the Totnes alternative community. Fires light up, and occasionally, the air fills with music, providing a tranquil backdrop without disturbing the peace of the shore.
Amid the laughter and chatter, it’s crucial to remember to care for this cherished environment. Rare plants like the Sea Kale and Yellow-Horned poppy call these sands home. So, while you enjoy, make sure to tread carefully. Equally important is respecting all visitors, especially those seeking a solitary, tranquil experience.
A treasure awaits those venturing to the northern end: a breathtaking cave and waterfall, a spot many locals hold close to their hearts. It’s a shared gem, so let’s keep it pristine for all.
Behind the beach lies a route that sometimes tests its resilience against storms. Yet, it steadfastly connects travelers to Slapton Ley, a freshwater lake doubling as a national nature reserve. This spot often sees students deep in ecological studies, a testament to the area’s rich biodiversity. Moreover, the sands proudly sit within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
History enthusiasts will find interest in the World War Two tales the beach whispers. The US Army, after evacuating the local populace, practiced drills here. A vivid reminder, a tank salvaged from that era, stands sentinel at Torcross.
For the history buff, the nature lover, or the free spirit looking to bask under the sun, clothed or not, Slapton Sands beckons and is recommended as relaxed beach for first timers.
Questions? Comments? Add your thoughts or photos below!
By Foot: Upon arriving at the ‘Strete Gate’ end, embark on the beach and direct yourself north, or simply turn left when facing the sea. This section is renowned for its naturist-friendly atmosphere.
By Public Transport: If you're arriving by train, the closest station is Totnes. From there, buses are available to Dartmouth or Kingsbridge. From either of these locations, you can then catch a bus to Slapton. Be forewarned, the journey isn't swift. Checking the bus schedules ahead of time is highly recommended to ensure smooth travels.
By Car: Undoubtedly, Slapton Sands is most conveniently accessed by car. It's located on the primary A379 route, sandwiched between Kingsbridge and Dartmouth. For parking:
- North - Strete Gate: This is your go-to spot for accessing the nudist section.
- Middle - Slapton Memorial.
- South - Torcross.
Both the Strete Gate and the Memorial car parks operate between 6am to 10pm. Parking fees are applicable. However, for those looking to save on parking fees, a handful of free parking slots are available at Strete Gate, right as you veer off towards the beach.
The Salcombe Dairy Beach Café
This place has recently set up shop, and it's the closest spot to grab a treat near the nude beach. Dive into their award-winning ice creams, savor locally-sourced cakes, or freshly brewed coffee. Their longstanding reputation since 1979 guarantees quality.