Start Bay is a 15 mile stretch of spectacular coast with stunning views and golden shingle beaches running from Start Point in the south to Warren Point in the north. It has many stories to tell: fishing, geology, secret wartime exercises, piracy and lost villages – discover them here!
The force of nature
This coastline fights an ongoing struggle with the sea. The nature of the bay means it often receives the full force of winter storms and tides. Two villages have long since been lost to the sea – Strete Undercliffe towards the end of the 18th century and Hallsands in 1917.
An underwater bank
The Skerries, from the Old North Sker (meaning rocky reef), is a bank running underwater from just off Start point, in a north east direction, for about 6.5km. Unlike the beaches at this end of the bay, it is made up of sand and shell. At low water the bank is only just over 2m below the surface and affects the way the waves run in the bay. The bank acts as a barrier to sediments and forces the energy of the waves into the southern part of the bay, towards south Slapton sands, Beesands and Hallsands. It is well known as a good fishing spot and equally a hazard to shipping.
A rocky tail
At the southern end of the bay Start Point is one of the most exposed peninsulas on the English Coast, running sharply almost a mile into the sea. Its name comes from the Anglo Saxon ‘steort’, meaning a tail. The jagged ridge of the headland is mirrored by dangerous rocks lying under the water including Black Stone rock. The rocks, combined with the strong tidal race around the tip of the headland, made Start Point a very dangerous spot. Increases in shipping brought more shipwrecks. Eventually in 1836 the lighthouse flashed its warning for the first time.
Click on the on the locations in the related information section on this page to discover the stories behind the places that make up our Explore Start Bay series. You can also find our information points when visiting this stunning area and absorb the stories in person as you walk the coastline. You can download walks guides in this area from our walking page