Slapton Sands - Monument Beach
© JThomas and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
The name of this beach, which lies on the Devon coast between Dartmouth and Kingsbridge, 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 between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago.
The beach car park is found alongside the A379, and immediately behind the road, is a large freshwater lake called Slapton Ley. The lake is surrounded by reed beds, marshes and woodland which provides a habitat to some interesting flora and fauna.
Visitors come here to bathe, surf and canoe, and there is an RNLI lifeguard service during the peak summer season. The area also offers some good walks. As well as the beach itself, the Slapton Ley Nature Trail is nearby, and the South-West Coastal Path passes alongside the beach on the other side of the A379.
This area of the coast is of historical significance. A stone memorial adjacent to the car park commemorates the inhabitants of the nearby village of South Hams, who in 1943 were given six weeks’ notice to leave their homes so that the area could be used for troops practicing for the D-Day landings.
Walking south along the beach, towards Torcross, a Sherman Tank, discovered buried in the sands by a beachcomber, commemorates Exercise Tiger, in April 1944, when hundreds of American service men lost their lives in a disastrous "life-like" rehearsal for the Normandy landings in June of that year.