Slapton Ley

Slapton Ley is a lake on the south coast of Devon, England, separated from Start Bay by a shingle beach, known as Slapton Sands.

Slapton Ley is the largest natural freshwater lake in south-west England being 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long and has two sections; the Lower Ley and the Higher Ley.[1][2] The ley is fed by streams and a small river, The Gara, that flows into the Higher Ley. The site is a National Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Geological Conservation Review site.[3] The nature reserve covers over 200 hectares (490 acres).[4][2]

The A379 between the Ley and the sea runs along the shingle ridge and was rebuilt after damage by coastal erosion in the early 2000s.[4]

Torcross and Slapton Ley, Stokenham - - 84730
A view across Slapton Ley from Stokenham, near Torcross

Ecology and wildlife

The Slapton Ley nature reserve is owned by the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust and managed by the Field Studies Council.[4][5] Slapton Ley’s beaches are affected by erosion but the beaches are formed from sediment; this makes them special because they are non-replaceable: once the sediment is moved it is gone. The beach can only become smaller. This threatens the security of the mainland because when the beaches are gone, mass amounts of water damage would occur on the land. The nature reserve would be destroyed and the site of special scientific interest would be lost.[6]

There is a large population of Cetti's warbler (Cettia cetti) at the site,[4] and Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris) are resident. Slapton Ley is the only UK site for strapwort (Corrigiola litoralis), a plant identified by Natural England as being at high risk of going extinct by 2020.[7] Seed taken from the site, and grown at Paignton Zoo are due to be planted at Loe Pool, Cornwall in May 2015; where it has not been recorded since 1915.[8][9][10]


  1. ^ "Slapton Ley". Field Studies Council. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Slapton Ley". Devon Birds. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  3. ^ May, V J; Hansom, J D (2003). Coastal Geomorphology of Great Britain - Slapton Sands. Peterborough: JNCC. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d "Slapton Ley - a wildlife wonder". BBC. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  5. ^ "Devon's National Nature Reserves". Natural England. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  6. ^ Morey, C.R. (1976). "The Natuiral History of Slapton Ley Nature Reserve. IX: The Morphology and History of the Lake Basins" (PDF). Field Studies Journal. 4: 353–368.
  7. ^ "Strapwort". Whiteley Wildlife Conservation Trust. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  8. ^ Graeme (26 March 2015). "Bid to save extremely rare plant strapwort at Loe Pool Helston by National Trust". West Briton. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  9. ^ Bennallick, Ian J; French, Colin N; Parslow, Rosemary E (2009). Vascular Plants. In CISFBR Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (2nd ed.). Praze-an-Beeble: Croceago Press. pp. 105–157. ISBN 9781901685015.
  10. ^ "Strapwort". Slapton Ley. Field Studies Council.

Coordinates: 50°16′59″N 3°39′11″W / 50.283°N 3.653°W

A379 road

The A379 is a road in the English county of Devon. It links points on the edges of that county's two principal cities, Exeter and Plymouth, by an indirect and largely coastal route.

The A38 provides a faster and more direct inland route between Exeter and Plymouth, whilst the A380 provides a similarly faster route between Exeter and the Torbay area. However the A379 serves a large number of smaller coastal communities and ports along the coast. The indented nature of the South Devon coast means that the road is usually out of sight of the sea, but the many rivers and estuaries are crossed by bridges and, in one case, a cable ferry.


Beesands is a small settlement located midway between Hallsands and Torcross on the coast of Start Bay in South Devon, England. It is best known as a tourist destination, but is still a fishing village that concentrates mainly on crab and lobster fishing through Britannia Fisheries. There is an Anglican chapel dedicated to St Andrew in the village. Behind the beach, north of the settlement is a freshwater lake known as Beesands Ley, smaller but similar in ecology to Slapton Ley about a kilometre to the north.

Keith Richards' family regularly spent holidays at Beesands during the 1950s. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger's first public performance was at The Cricket Inn in the village.

Conoppia palmicinctum

Conoppia palmicinctum is a species of mite in the family Cepheidae. It has a southern European – Central Asian distribution, extending as far west as the Spanish Sierra Nevada and the Canary Islands. In the British Isles, it is found in South West England, South Wales and southern Ireland.

Devon Birdwatching and Preservation Society

The Devon Bird Watching & Preservation Society, also known as Devon Birds, is one of the UK's regional ornithological societies.

Field Studies Council

The Field Studies Council (FSC) is an educational charity based in the UK. It opened its first Field Centre in 1947 at Flatford Mill, and now operates 20 Field Centres in various locations in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland offering both residential and non-residential field courses. FSC has published a wide range of titles to support its work over the last 70 years, including fold-out charts and the AIDGAP series of identification guides. Their head office is located on the site of the Preston Montford field centre near Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

Gara River

Gara River is the name of the following rivers:

Gara River (Australia), a perennial river in the Northern Tablelands region of New South Wales, Australia

A small river that flows into Slapton Ley in Devon, England

Herbert Whitley

Herbert Whitley (1886 - 15 September 1955) was a millionaire and animal breeder who established Paignton Zoo zoological garden on his estate at Primley, Paignton, in Devon in the 1920s.Paignton Zoo was founded initially as his private collection. Whitley was an early conservationist and a contemporary of people such as Sir Peter Scott and Jean Delacour, the famous French ornithologist. Paignton Zoo first opened to the public in 1923. It was one of the earliest combined zoological and botanical gardens in Britain and the first that was opened with education as its mission.When Herbert Whitley died in 1955, the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT) was set up to continue his work. Since 2003, WWCT has owned and operated Newquay Zoo and Living Coasts. His estates also included the site of several local nature reserves in Devon, including Slapton Ley, now also run by the WWCT.

List of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in Devon

This is a list of the Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in Devon, England, United Kingdom. Natural England formerly English Nature is responsible for designating SSSIs in England, and chooses sites because of their fauna, flora, geological or physiographical features. As of February 2012, there are 211 sites designated in this Area of Search. 71 of the sites are designated for their geological interest, 109 for biological interest and 31 are of interest for both. Eleven of Devon's SSSIs are national nature reserves, sixteen are managed by the Devon Wildlife Trust and three are bird sanctuaries. There are 49 Special Areas of Conservation.For other counties, see List of SSSIs by Area of Search.

List of national nature reserves in England

This is a list of current national nature reserves in England. Sites formerly notified, such as Braunton Burrows in Devon, are not included.

List of species occurring in Britain at a single location

The following is a list of native plant and animal species which are found in Britain, but only at a single location.

List of woodlice of the British Isles

Woodlice are the most species-rich group of terrestrial crustaceans. Of the 3,637 species found worldwide, some 35 species in 10 families are native to the British Isles. One of these species, Acaeroplastes melanurus, had been considered extinct in the British Isles but was rediscovered in 2002 at its only site (Howth, County Dublin, Ireland), and a further ten species have become naturalised in greenhouses, presumably transported with exotic plants. Five species are especially common throughout the British Isles, and are known as the "famous five species". They are Oniscus asellus (the common shiny woodlouse), Porcellio scaber (the common rough woodlouse), Philoscia muscorum (the common striped woodlouse), Trichoniscus pusillus (the common pygmy woodlouse) and Armadillidium vulgare (the common pill bug). One species, Metatrichoniscoides celticus, is endemic to Glamorgan, and is listed as a vulnerable species in the IUCN Red List.

National nature reserves in England

National nature reserves in England are designated by Natural England as key places for wildlife and natural features in England. They were established to protect the most significant areas of habitat and of geological formations. NNRs are managed on behalf of the nation, many by Natural England themselves, but also by non-governmental organisations, including the members of The Wildlife Trusts partnership, the National Trust, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

There are over 224 NNRs in England covering around 800 square kilometres (310 sq mi), 0.71% England's land area and practically every kind of landscape. Often they contain rare species or nationally important species of plants, insects, butterflies, birds, mammals etc.

Slapton, Devon

Slapton is a village and civil parish in the South Hams district of Devon, England. It is located near the A379 road between Kingsbridge and Dartmouth, and lies within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). In 1901 the population of the civil parish was 527, decreasing to 473 in 2001, and decreasing further to 434 at the 2011 census. The parish is surrounded clockwise from the north by the parishes of Blackawton, Strete, Stokenham and East Allington.

Slapton Castle

Slapton Castle is an Iron Age hill fort situated close to Slapton in Devon, England. The fort is on a promontory on the eastern side of a hilltop at approximately 65 metres (213 ft) above sea level, overlooking Slapton Ley.

South West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path is England's longest waymarked long-distance footpath and a National Trail. It stretches for 630 miles (1,014 km), running from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, to Poole Harbour in Dorset. Because it rises and falls with every river mouth, it is also one of the more challenging trails. The total height climbed has been calculated to be 114,931 ft (35,031 m), almost four times the height of Mount Everest. It has been voted 'Britain's Best Walking route' twice in a row by readers of the Ramblers Walk magazine, and regularly features in lists of the world's best walks.The final section of the path was designated as a National Trail in 1978. Many of the landscapes which the South West Coast Path crosses have special status, either as a national park or one of the heritage coasts. The path passes through two World Heritage Sites: the Dorset and East Devon Coast, known as the Jurassic Coast, was designated in 2001, and the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape in 2007.In the 1990s it was thought that the path brought £150 million into the area each year, but new research in 2003 indicated that it generated around £300 million a year in total, which could support more than 7,500 jobs. This research also recorded that 27.6% of visitors to the region came because of the Path, and they spent £136 million in a year. Local people took 23 million walks on the Path and spent a further £116 million, and other visitors contributed the remainder. A further study in 2005 estimated this figure to have risen to around £300 million. Following investment through the Rural Development Programme for England, more detailed research was undertaken in 2012, and this found the annual spend by walkers to have risen to £439 million which sustains 9771 full-time equivalent jobs


Strete is a village and civil parish in the South Hams district of Devon, England, on the coast of Start Bay, within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The village is about 5 miles south-west of the town of Dartmouth on the A379 road between Dartmouth and Kingsbridge, atop the cliffs behind Pilchard Cove at the north end of Slapton Sands, which part of the beach is known locally as Strete Sands. The northern end of the beach has been a naturist beach for many years.The parish of Strete was created out of the south-eastern part of Blackawton parish in 1881. There was a small medieval chapel of ease in the village until 1836 when the present church, dedicated to St Michael, was built on the same site, incorporating the chapel's tower.The population of the parish was 520 in 2001, decreasing to 474 in 2011. Its western boundary is formed, in part, by the Gara Brook which separates it from the parish of Slapton, and it also has boundaries with the parishes of Blackawton and Stoke Fleming. The Gara Brook flows into the Higher Ley of Slapton Ley, part of which is in the parish and at the northern end of which is Strete Gate where there is a small, free and a larger, pay-and-display car park with access to Strete Sands and a woodland walk.The first documentary mention of the place was as Streta in 1194. In 1244 it was called Strete. The name derives from Old English Strǣt, meaning a road or Roman road; the village lies on an ancient trackway. Donn's One-Inch map of 1765 records the village as Street, which it remained until the late 19th century, when it was altered to be spelled Strete.Strete was one of the parishes evacuated in December 1943 as part of Exercise Tiger.

The Loe

The Loe (Cornish: An Logh), also known as Loe Pool, is the largest natural freshwater lake (50 hectares (120 acres)) in Cornwall, United Kingdom. The earliest recorded appearance of this simple name form was in 1337, when it was called "La Loo", but is mentioned as 'the lake' in 1302; Situated between Porthleven and Gunwalloe and downstream of Helston, it is separated from Mount's Bay by the shingle bank of Loe Bar. Both the Loe (including the southern arm known as Carminowe Creek) and Loe Bar are within the Penrose Estate, which is administered by the National Trust, and are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England. It is within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is considered a classic Geological Conservation Review Site. The South West Coast Path, which follows the coast of south-west England from Somerset to Dorset passes over Loe Bar.


Torcross is a village in the South Hams district of Devon in England. It stands at grid reference SX822420 at the southern end of Slapton Sands, a narrow strip of land and shingle beach which separates the freshwater lake of Slapton Ley from Start Bay and carries the A379 coastal road north to Dartmouth.

Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust

50°25′44″N 3°35′4″W

Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT) is a registered charity, set up to run Paignton Zoo after the death of its founder, Herbert Whitley, who established the zoo on his estate at Primley, Paignton in Devon in the 1920s.

WWCT also owns runs several local nature reserves in Devon, including Slapton Ley. Since 2003 it has owned and operated Newquay Zoo and Living Coasts.

Whitley Trust zoos have been recognised for sustainable tourism and was one of the first groups of British zoos to gain an ISO 14001 certificate for its environmental management systems. along with a recent Gold award for GTBS Green Tourism Business Scheme for Newquay Zoo.

All three of the Trust zoos works within the BIAZA, EAZA and WAZA zoo networks in Britain, Europe and the World as well as having ex-situ conservation links overseas.

The WWCT Mission Statement, environmental and other policies are shared between all three sites and some can be viwed on the zoo websites. Recent WWCT Annual Reviews are also available online.

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