Walks in our AONB


choose from forty walks, cycle routes and trails on the South Devon AONB website, all downloadable.  Just click on the link and start dreaming!


Watermill Cottages is in the heart of the AONB and Slapton Sands, right, is our closest and longest beach.

Bird spotting, wildlife, nature


Our Gara Brook feeds Slapton Ley, a National Nature Reserve and SSSI, home to the rare Cetti's Warbler, bitterns, otters, kingfishers,

and the Cirl Bunting. 


Slapton Ley Field Centre runs year-round talks, walks and events.

Here in the Gara Valley we have kingfishers, goldcrests, firecrests, a resident dipper, buzzards, barn owls, woodpeckers, tawny owls, little owls, and many more birds.


There's a resident otter family on the river who sometimes play on our lawn, dormice, grass snakes, glow worms, deer, badgers, weasels,  many many species of butterflies (no pesticides).


Wildflowers are abundant in hedges, meadows, woods, coppices and ancient water meadows and grasslands.




Slapton Ley is the largest natural lake in south-west England. Although it is only separated from the sea by a narrow shingle bar, it is entirely freshwater. The lake is surrounded by reedbeds, marshes and woodland habitats.



At Start Point there are seals, sometimes dolphins.  On Dartmoor, ponies, granite tors, moorland and very different plants. 'War Horse' was filmed around Holne.


And of course the rivers, estuaries and coasts offer habitat diversity.  Bring binoculars!


Writers & Artists in The South Hams

Agatha Christie              Michael Morpurgo John Masefield        Alice Oswald
Jack Butler Yeats            Beryl Drusilla De Zoete Tennyson                 A.A. Milne

History - Operation Tiger and evacuation of the South Hams in The Second World War


April 1944


Memorial at Slapton Sands presented by the United States Government

180 farms and shops and 750 families; a total of 3,000 civilians were evacuated.  Some never returned. 


Higher North Mill was working as a mill until the day of the evacuation.  It was sold after the war.

Slapton Sands was chosen for a rehearsal of the D-Day landings in the Second World War because it resembled the Normandy beaches.

Exercise Tiger Remembered | Evacuation has photos and accounts of the evacuation and Operation Tiger, a secret military disaster kept quiet for decades.


Ken Small from Torcross raised funds to lift a Sherman Tank from the sea, you can see it in the Torcross car park.  He wrote about Operation Tiger, which was hushed up for many years, in his book 'The Forgotten Dead'.


On 20 December 1943, residents of eight South Hams' villages, Blackawton, Chillington, East Allington, Sherford, Slapton, Stokenham, Strete and Torcross, were given six weeks' notice to evacuate and move family, livestock, household.


Houses and Gardens



Ferry Cottage


Above: Take a ferry from Dartmouth, or the water taxi from Dittisham and visit Greenway, Agatha Christie's home, full of her personality and beautiful gardens down to The Dart.

The National Trust - South West


has details and opening times

of National Trust houses and gardens close to Watermill Cottages

as well as maps and parking information for the miles of

National Trust beaches

in The South Hams.



Two NT ideas ...


Coleton Fishacre, reached by ferry across The Dart from Dartmouth, was the Arts & Crafts home of the D'Oyly Carte family in the Jazz Age.  They worked with Gilbert & Sullivan.  Its fabulous garden is an RHS Partner Garden.

Saltram, near Plymouth, was the setting for the recent version of 'Alice in Wonderland'.

Dartington Hall, at Dartington, near Totnes, was built in the 13thC.  It has beautful gardens, including a tiltyard from jousting days, a Henry Moore sculpture, and is a thriving arts, music and crafts venue.  It hosts a literary festival in July.  There's a cinema, restaurant, cafe and miles of walks. See what's on



Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth







                  Sharpham House


On The Dart at Ashprington near Totnes, it has an award-winning vineyard, dairy and restaurant and offers poetry evenings and mindfulness workshops

view of The Dart from Sharpham House - lovely walks along the river bank to and from Totnes - below, the steam train from Dartmouth.