Beesands is a small fishing village located between the lost village of Hallsands and Torcross which can be found at the southern end of Slapton Sands. The tiny village is home to two fabulous eateries – The Cricket Inn and the small shack, Britannia on the Beach, which is a mecca for seafood aficionados.
Beesands and Marauders
Originally named Bay Sands, the area was only inhabited towards the end of the 18th century, when the fear of attack from marauding pirates was finally over.
For more than three hundred years the coastline of South-West England was at risk of being raided by Barbary Pirates (otherwise known as Ottoman Corsairs). They not only attacked the local ships but carried out raids onshore to capture men, women and children for the slave markets of North Africa.
The threat of capture was at its highest during the late 16th/early 17th century when it’s believed that around 35,000 European Christian slaves were held on the Barbary Coast, particularly in Algiers. In 1636 a group of Cornish Justices of the Peace convening at Bodmin wrote a letter to Charles I:-
“The Turks have taken other vessels, and chased others so that they have run on the rocks, choosing rather to lose their boats than their liberty. These Turks daily show themselves at St Keverne, Mount’s Bay, and other places, that the poor fishermen are fearful not only to go to the seas, but likewise lest these Turks should come on shore and take them out of their houses…”
The History of Beesands
The village started life more as a hamlet and by 1805 there were only six properties. Over the next three decades, more buildings were constructed and by the first national census of 1841 the population had risen to just over a hundred. Fishing was the main source of employment for the locals and remained so right through to the 1970s.
The first pub, The Kings Arms, opened in 1823 and surprisingly for such a small catchment area, a second pub, the Cricket Inn was opened in 1867 and continues to flourish to this day.
Tourism is the main industry in the village these days and many of the cottages are now charming holiday lets.
The Cricket Inn
The award-winning gastropub is a foodie’s paradise with a diverse menu and a range of seafood that comes literally from boat to door and can be washed down with one of the many local ales.
The pub is also perfect for that quiet weekend getaway with seven bedrooms on offer and views looking out to Start Bay to die for. The village is a little time capsule where you can escape the pressures of everyday life and either just laze about on the beach or put on some hiking boots and take a stroll along the South West Coastal path, quite literally on the doorstep.
Britannia on the Beach
The small restaurant is known far and wide for its amazing fresh locally sourced seafood and is referred to by locals as the Shack. As well as the small dining area where you can BYOB (bring your own bottle), there’s also a separate kiosk for purchasing takeaway fish and chips etc. to enjoy on the beach itself; one of life’s more pleasurable experiences!
The small building also has a fish counter where locally caught lobster and crab, along with local scallops collected by divers and an assortment of line-caught fish can be purchased. You might even see the boats offloading the freshly caught catch by the small slipway.
The long shingle beach is dog-friendly throughout the year and also a favourite spot for fishermen, being somewhat more protected than nearby Slapton Sands.
At low tide, it’s possible to walk round to Torcross via the shoreline, and maybe enjoy an amazing Milkshake or ice cream from the Seabreeze Cafe which is also a B & B. Why not take the coastal path, a rather more energetic route, on your return and drink in the breathtaking scenery?
Beesands is one of the few places where there’s abundant parking and what’s more, it’s free!
Start Point Lighthouse – Built in 1836 to protect the shipping from the treacherous rocks off Start Point, one of the most exposed peninsulas on the English Coast, and a watery graveyard to numerous wrecks. The lighthouse is just over two miles from Beesands via the coastal path and the walk takes about 50 minutes.
Slapton Sands – A picturesque shingle beach stretching almost two miles from Strete to Torcross. Just behind the beach is the largest natural freshwater lake in the South West and home to a vast array of flora and fauna.
Hallsands – The ruins of a fishing village that was washed away in the winter of 1917 and was caused through over dredging of shingle for use in the naval dockyard at Plymouth. The unfortunate villagers had to wait seven long years before they received any compensation.