Enjoy a virtual tour of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty of Bigbury-on-Sea & Burgh Island one of the most popular destinations in the South Hams.
Even though Bigbury is only an hour away from where I live, I hadn’t been there for many years so this trip was long overdue. Just as you round the corner at the top of the hill, your suddenly faced with a spectacular view of the beach and Burgh Island. The road takes you straight to the car parks below, but just before you reach them there are a few spaces on the left hand side that are free with the only restriction of no overnight parking. We were lucky as a couple were just loading their car to leave, so we didn’t have to pay to park.
We wandered around the beach for a bit, it may look like a gorgeous sunny day, but it was very windy and we were being blown away and pummeled by sand. The beach is a mixture of mainly sand and some shingle, perfect for a family holiday. It is backed by low cliffs, and lies on the side of the estuary of the River Avon. There are toilets, disabled access to the beach, a slipway and, during the summer, first-aid assistance and lifeguards are on hand. The beach has a dog restricted area, and there is an area for moored bathing rafts.
Of course we wanted to go across to the Island, but it was pretty much high tide, so we needed to use the famous sea tractor. There were no times on display, so we walked back up to the shop to ask and were told it basically runs on Island time and to just keep an eye out for when it comes.
We decided to walk around the Island first to work up a thirst before entering the pub. The walk is very easy, but can be a little muddy and there are a few steps so not accessible for wheelchair users. At the top of the hill you’ll find the ruins of the old St. Michael’s chapel and of course the best of the panoramic views.
- Burgh Island lies about 270 yards (250 metres) offshore.
- The original Sea Tractor vehicle was constructed in 1930, the current third generation tractor dates from 1969.
- There are two large car parks with easy access to the beaches and the walk across the sand bar to Burgh Island with its Art Deco Hotel and Pilchard Inn. When the tide covers the sand bar access is by the sea tractor.
At the start of the 20th century Bigbury-on-Sea consisted of a few fishermen’s cottages with fish cellars. The village grew with the growth in holidaymaking and now has a beach cafe, and by the mainland side of causeway is the Burgh Island Causeway resort built in 1998 replacing the burnt out fishermen’s cottages after a controversial planning application.
This is one of South Devon’s best locations for windsurfing and canoeing. There are some spectacular coastal walks, and a golf course nearby.
- Paddle boarding
- Ride the sea tractor from Bigbury Beach to Burgh Island
- Rock pooling
- South West Coastal Path
- Walk to St Michael’s Church
- Pilchard Inn (14th-century smugglers haunt. Open 11:00-22:30)
- Venus Cafe
The beach is tidal and that is where the famous sea tractor comes in. It costs £2 each way to use and it can operate in tides up to 7ft with winds up to 30 mph. Once across there is a leisurely walk to enjoy around the Island, it does have a small incline with a few steps in places, so it’s not wheelchair friendly, but it is an easy walk.
- Easy short 0.8 mile walk around the island.
Bigbury on Sea, Devon, Sat-nav: TQ7 4BG. The small resort is very busy in summer and has a large car parking area.
- Bus, 875 from Plymouth, 1hr 20.
- Car, is by far the easiest option. There are two large pay & display car parks down by the beach, but if your lucky you may find one of the few spaces on the road down available for free.
- Sea Tractor, £2 each way. There are no times, so you just have to keep a look out for when its coming if you want to catch it.
- Walking, If the tides out then simply walk across and enjoy the coastal paths around the Island. Walking these won’t disappoint, with the stunning views on a sunny day. (Don’t forget the sunscreen).
Blue Badge holders get an hours free parking on top of what they pay for.
- If your lucky you may find one of the few spaces on the road down available for free.
- Blue Badge holders get an hours free parking on top of what they pay for.
- Lifeguards are present at Bigbury on Sea beach during May to September, 10:00 – 18:00.
- Dogs are only allowed on permitted areas from 1st May to 30th September.
- Beware of the tide.
- Beware of strong undercurrents.
- Be aware of the seagulls if your outside with food.
- The beach is a mixture of mainly sand and some shingle.
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