Down at the southern tip of Devon, just west of Prawle Point, Elender Cove is tucked under the dramatic granite scars of Gammon Head.

Down at the southern tip of Devon, just west of Prawle Point, Elender Cove is tucked under the dramatic granite scars of Gammon Head.

The tiny beach is a golden sandy paradise near low water and the cliffs curve out towards Prawle, where the Union Jack adds a flash of colour above the white Coastguard hut.

Elender is perfectly sheltered from any winds with some north in them; north-westerlies and north-easterlies are equally snug. Easy to enter and leave, this is almost a classic passage anchorage, where sailing coasters could wait out a foul tide without complications. The bottom is sandy close in, but with patches of weed and rock further out – ideal fisherman’s anchor country, but also OK for a heavy CQR.

Around the cove, following the lowest contour of cliffs, the National Trust coast path meanders from Prawle towards Salcombe, dotted with walkers and crag-hopping sheep. Gulls nest on the ledges and a small, peaty stream trickles into the sea. On the west side, Gammon Head has one of the most spectacular profiles on the whole South Coast, yet you can only see it when anchored in Elender.

In quiet weather or with offshore winds, it’s safe to lie in Elender Cove overnight, so long as you’re sure the anchor’s well set. There are no lights visible after dark, when a sense of wild seclusion can be savoured. By day, the flag on the Coastguard hut brings a feeling of company. The familiar white lookout is now manned by a new voluntary group – the National Coastwatch Institution. It’s rather reassuring to know, as you pass this extremity of Devon, that a pair of sharp eyes with powerful binoculars is watching over seafarers from high on Prawle Point.

I wouldn’t leave a boat unattended in Elender Cove, but if you have an active crew straining at the leash for exercise, you can send them ashore to the beach and suggest they climb to the higher cliff path. From here, walking east, it’s only half an hour into East Prawle village, where the Pig’s Nose or the Freebooter Inn serve a good pint.

Pilotage Notes

Admiralty Chart 28 is best, but you can get in safely with the smaller-scale 1634. From the east, round Prawle Point a good cable off and follow the coast NNW into Elender Cove. Low on the shore are the rusting remains of the Greek ship Demetrios, wrecked in 1992.

Coming from the west or out from Salcombe, head for Prawle Point first. Then, as Elender starts to open, swing north to tuck just east of Gammon Head, steering towards the beach. Gammon Head is clear on its south and east sides, but a rocky spur juts out for a cable on its west side, with 1.7m depth at LAT.

Distances

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Torquay 23 miles

Brixham 20 miles

Dartmouth

entrance 13 miles

Dartmouth

start point 4 miles

Salcombe

entrance 2.5 miles

River Yealm

(Mew Stone) 16 miles