Slapton Ley - Torcross South Devon

Slapton Ley

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Slapton near Torcross

Slapton Ley behind Slapton Sands near Torcross is the largest natural freshwater lake (1.5 miles long) in South West England. It is separated from Start Bay by a shingle beach. These lagoon conditions were created around 5000 BC with the freshwater lake forming thousands of years ago.

Renowned as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve of 214 hectares, there are large populations of birds such a Cetti's Warbler. The area has been managed by Slapton Ley Field Centre since 1959, they run courses and guided walks of their 'outdoor laboratory' do contact them for details.

Slapton Ley is a great place to watch the wintering birds prepare for migration, particularly Swallows. In the summer months, the wild flowers and butterflies are incredible.

Added to which, for the lichen lovers amongst you, there are over 250 species, with more than 2,000 of fungi alone and 29 of these were described as new to science!

Sadly, with the natural erosion of the beach, the shingle barrier is getting narrower and eventually will breach, it is no longer financially viable to protect it and this remarkable lake could soon be lost to mother nature!


  • Parking - Plenty
  • Accessibility - Good
  • Toilets - No
  • Refreshments - No
  • Dogs - Welcome year round

Best for

Nature, walking and dog owners. 

Look out for

Otters sleeping, holding hands in the lake or Badgers, Dormice and Bats around the shores.

​It's a fact !

The dredging of the shingle from the bay to build Devonport docks in Plymouth, is blamed for the inevitable demise of this wildlife wonder, as much as the loss of the village of Hallsands just down the coast.


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