15. Devon’s South Hams: *East Prawle to Gara Rock and Back - 5.5 miles – OS Explorer OL20

The glorious South Hams at it's strange best. Links to East Portlemouth (Walk 14) if you want a longer trek.

Being all coast path it's easy to follow without a map, but the going is steep at times.


And, unusually, driving to the start of the walk through a maze of narrow lanes is as challenging as the walk itself. Worth it though for the back-of-beyond feel.


It starts at a National Trust car park near coast guard cottages a mile or so past East Prawle village.


To reach it, carry on past the public toilets on your right as you enter the village and keep going to the end of the lane.


Before beginning the walk, check out the information board in the car park. That mound of earth below, about halfway between you and the beach with a concrete hat on, was a top-secret radar station. Look left and you’ll spot another, both from World War II. Eyes to the sky rather than in it in those days.


Heading west past the coastguard cottages, make for the lookout station ahead at Prawle Point. It has a visitors centre worth a look.

Leaving the volunteer lookouts to their work, look down at the rocky coastline for wreckage that shows how important their work is. Thrown up on the rocks is a rust-red legacy of a stormy night in 1992. On an ebbing tide, what's left of the rest of the Demetrios emerges.



It’s not alone in finding an unwelcome resting place here.


Prawle Point, jutting out into the English Channel and surrounded by submerged rocks, has been a ships graveyard since the Bronze Age and probably before.


Continuing your walk, you soon cross two lines of land based remnants of the Bronze Age in the form of boundary stones, for all the world like the teeth of some huge beast in need of a dentist. If there isn't a legend about them there ought to be.

Next comes Elender Cove with its idyllic but difficult to get to sandy beaches. A long climb down and up but worth it if you have the time and energy.


Don't fret if you balk at the thought, there are equally lovely beaches with easier access further along. For now just enjoy the rugged but glorious coastline, covered in foxgloves and sea pinks when we were there.



As you make your way, look out for a path leading off left along a steep-sided narrow ridge (see leading picture). It ends by a little waterfall and is a great picnic spot. But be warned: a slip here and you’re unlikely to survive the fall. And if by some unfortunate miracle you do, you’ll have a collection of broken bones to keep you awake until the tide and crabs come in to finish you off. - Just saying.


Presuming you survived the ridge or gave it a miss, Gara Rock hotel with its small round lookout station out front will come into view next. Beneath it is the easiest beach to access. With soft sand and plenty of space to find a quite spot to change for a swim, its a great place to explore and relax on.


Gara Rock Hotel was once rather run down - although it had character and a great basement bar. Now, with millions spent on it, it's rather posh. Nevertheless, it's still welcoming, and the view from the restaurant is fabulous.


As your probably saw on the information board at the car park where you started, there are circular walks. Personally, I think the coastline is worth sticking to for the return journey. It always looks different (light, tide etc) and has so much more to offer than the field and lane alternatives.


Ps: Back at East Prawle village and not to be missed, is the Pigs Nose pub. Great ales, and a roaring fire in winter... and not at all posh.