Blackpool Sands near Dartmouth regularly features in lists of 'top ten best beaches' in the country. The setting is extraordinary - a perfect golden crescent framed by huge pines, there are few views like it anywhere else in the country. It also has exceptional facilities; the clean toilets even have classical music playing to accompany your visit. It has a brilliant beach cafe, ample parking, beach showers and two great little changing huts for those people who don’t enjoy wriggling out of their wet things under a towel. But all this comes with a price, currently £7 per car.
Despite the cost, Blackpool Sands is incredibly popular. Regular visitors usually have a favourite spot - some turn left to the quieter end of the beach, some like to be near the cafe and shops in the middle, whilst some stay near their cars so they don’t have to walk as far with their extensive beach paraphernalia. For my children it’s all about the little creek, which curls along the right-hand side of the beach. We like to set up near here so that the creek can be dammed, floated on, paddled in and re-routed. This week my children teamed up with various other visiting children to extensively dam and re-route the river into their own private pool. The pool was then surrounded by beach slate and filled with happy children. It survived a good half an hour or so before the banks inevitably burst but that’s all a part of the fun.
We spent a good couple of hours in the creek before venturing into the waves. The sea here is crystal clear and, because the beach slopes so steeply into the sea, it is usually relatively calm. My five year old boy spent ages bobbing about in the calm, clear waters on a rubber ring while I clung on underneath. The beach shop sells rubber dinghies and there were a huge number of people bobbing about in these on both the creek and the sea.
Despite the name, Blackpool Sands is predominantly made up of small pebbles, so lovers of sandcastle building have to meet at two huge sand boxes to build their architectural delights. There are definitely times when my family will seek out a sandy beach but also days when the cleanliness and convenience of pebbles is more attractive. We can rarely escape a beach without succumbing to the ever-present draw of ice-creams, and the honeycomb flavoured cones we bought here were without doubt the best ice-creams I’ve eaten this year.
Blackpool Sands is well worth a visit. Because of the high price it’s more of an occasional treat for my family rather than a regular favourite but the incredible setting and the fantastic facilities mean that it just squeezes into my list of favourite beaches in South Devon.