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Start Point Lighthouse

start point lighthouse

See Striking Coastal Views at Start Point Lighthouse

Perched precariously on a rugged headland near Salcombe, Start Point Lighthouse offers breathtaking coastal scenery and a glimpse into the life of past lighthouse keepers. Families can enjoy bracing sea air, far-reaching views across Start Bay, and discover more about this vital beacon that has protected passing ships since 1836.

With a hilltop walk out to the lighthouse and guided tours inside, Start Point makes a scenic and memorable day out on Devon’s picturesque South Hams coastline.

start point

Getting There

Start Point Lighthouse sits on a remote rocky outcrop near Hallsands, approximately 5 miles south of Salcombe. It’s best accessed by car – follow the B3197 from Salcombe then minor roads signed to Start Point.

Some walking is required from the small visitor car park but you can get closer by 4×4. There’s no public transport to Start Point itself.

Opening Times

Access to Start Point headland is open all year during daylight hours. Guided lighthouse tours run on some summer weekends from April – September:

Saturdays and Sundays, 2 – 5pm

Check the website for tour dates.

Admission Costs

The walking trails around Start Point headland are freely accessible year-round.

For the history-packed lighthouse tours, prices are:

  • Adults – £6
  • Children – £4
  • Family ticket – £15

Contactless card payments preferred. No booking required.

view of start point

The Coastal Walk

It’s just under a mile’s walk out to the lighthouse along an easy-grade cliff path with dramatic sea views. The trail passes old lookout huts before reaching the tapering rocky outcrop the lighthouse perches on.

Along the way, displays interpret Start Point’s place in local maritime history, from smugglers to shipwrecks. Kids will love exploring the coastal landscape.

Lighthouse Tours

Guided tours allow you to discover more about life inside Start Point lighthouse when keepers manned it:

  • Climb the 89 steps up the old stone tower to see the lantern room where the lamp sat.
  • Learn how the huge optic lenses helped make Start Point’s light visible 29 miles out to sea.
  • Discover the living quarters and kitchen where keepers resided self-sufficiently.
  • Hear how compounds like mercury were historically used in the engrossing history.
  • Find out about modern automation enabling today’s remote operation.
  • Stand on the balcony for the full panoramic sea view – on a clear day you can even see the Eddystone Lighthouse 14 miles away!
start point

History of Start Point Lighthouse

It was built in 1836 to help guide ships through the dangerous waters off Start Point and to warn them of the rocky coastline. The area was notorious for shipwrecks.

The lighthouse was designed by civil engineer James Walker and stands on a precipitous cliff 157 feet above sea level. It was first lit on the 1st January 1836 and displayed a flashing white light. The 25-foot high circular tower was made of local Devon granite and the interior had Canton enamel plates to reflect and amplify the light. In 1873 the lantern room on top of the tower was replaced with a larger one to increase the power of the light.

Over the years, the lighthouse has been an important beacon for ships navigating the English Channel. During World War II, the light was extinguished to avoid aiding enemy ships and aircraft. The lighthouse was automated in 1983 and is now monitored from the Trinity House control center in Harwich, Essex. Start Point Lighthouse remains an iconic and vital maritime landmark on the Devon coastline, warning passing ships of the dangers just offshore. Its light can be seen for 17 nautical miles out to sea.

start point lighthouse from afar

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed? – Dogs are free to go on the walk around the lighthouse, but are not allowed inside

Is Start Point Lighthouse wheelchair friendly? – No, there is no lift and the 86 steps are too stepp for wheelchairs

What marine wildlife is there? – Dolphins, porpoises, flat fish, crabs, eels and grey seals.

Nearby Attractions

Make a full family day by combining with other top coastal attractions:

  • Prawle Point – South Devon’s southernmost point with wild scenery. Guided walks available.
  • Salcombe – enjoy this scenic estuary town’s beaches, cafes and boutiques.
  • Kingsbridge – picturesque market town full of independent shops.
  • Thurlestone – beautiful South Hams village with 5 beaches nearby!
  • Overbecks – Historic house museum in Salcombe with quirky collections and subtropical gardens with exotic plants.
  • Dartmouth Castle – Imposing medieval fortification with a rich history. Walk the ramparts and admire views over the Dart Estuary.
  • Dartmouth Steam Railway – Vintage steam train rides along the Dart Valley from Paignton to Kingswear. Takes in scenic South Devon views.
  • Salcombe Distilling Co. – Award-winning artisan gin distillery offering tours and tasting experiences. Sample their signature gins.
  • Blackpool Sands – Picturesque Blue Flag beach near Dartmouth with soft sand, rock pools to explore, and charming beach hut cafe.
  • Buckfast Abbey – Working Benedictine monastery with medieval church, monk’s herb garden and grounds. Shop sells homemade produce.
  • Sharpham Vineyard – Scenic vineyard near Totnes producing fine English wine. Take a vineyard tour and enjoy wine tastings.
  • Pennywell Farm – Traditional farm where visitors can feed and interact with chickens, goats, pigs and more. Indoor play areas too.

With striking vistas, fresh sea air and maritime insights, Start Point Lighthouse promises a truly scenic and inspiring family day beside the Devon coast.

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