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Hallsands

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Overview





Hallsands lies on England's south coast a mile to the northwest of Start Point. It offers an anchorage off the ruins of an old fishing village that is one of the traditional tide wait locations for westbound vessels heading down the channel.

This a tolerable anchorage in any moderate winds with a westerly component. However, if the westerly winds build it quickly becomes uncomfortable. In these conditions, a swell wraps its way around Start Point that clashes with a tidal eddy to create an unpleasant chop. Access is straightforward as once clear of the Start and Skerries Bank there are no offlying dangers.



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Keyfacts for Hallsands
Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
3 stars: Tolerable; in suitable conditions a vessel may be left unwatched and an overnight stay.



Last modified
December 11th 2018

Summary

A tolerable location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderHistoric, geographic or culturally significant location; or in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
None listed



Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 14.027' N, 003° 39.409' W

This is about 100 metres off the shore and on the 3-metre contour.

What is the initial fix?

The following Hallsands Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
50° 15.420' N, 003° 37.676' W
This sets up an approach from the northwest. It is on the line of bearing 038° T of Mew Stone just open of the high land on Scabbacombe Head, 1 mile to the northeast, which provides a clearing line to the northwest of Skerries Bank. The Skerries Bank is covered by Start Point red auxiliary
light at night.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern England’s coastal overview from Portland Bill to Start Point Route location

    With the exception of the Skerries and The Start the only dangers are rocks close inshore north and south of the anchorage.


Not what you need?
Try our Advanced Havens Search tool to find locations with the specific attributes you need, or click the 'Next', coastal clockwise, or 'Previous', coastal anti-clockwise, buttons to progress through neighbouring havens. Below are the ten nearest havens to Hallsands for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Salcombe - 2.9 miles W
  2. Starehole Bay - 3.2 miles WSW
  3. Dartmouth Harbour - 4.6 miles NNE
  4. Dittisham & The River Dart - 5.7 miles NNE
  5. Brixham - 7.3 miles NNE
  6. Paignton - 7.8 miles NNE
  7. Torquay - 8.9 miles NNE
  8. Hope Cove - 9.5 miles NNE
  9. Anstey’s Cove - 9.7 miles NNE
  10. Babbacombe Bay - 9.9 miles NNE
Ten nearest havens by straight line distance
  1. Salcombe - 2.9 miles W
  2. Starehole Bay - 3.2 miles WSW
  3. Dartmouth Harbour - 4.6 miles NNE
  4. Dittisham & The River Dart - 5.7 miles NNE
  5. Brixham - 7.3 miles NNE
  6. Paignton - 7.8 miles NNE
  7. Torquay - 8.9 miles NNE
  8. Hope Cove - 9.5 miles NNE
  9. Anstey’s Cove - 9.7 miles NNE
  10. Babbacombe Bay - 9.9 miles NNE
Alternatively the above can be ordered by compass direction or coastal sequence


Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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What's the story here?
Hallsands and Start Bay
Image: Nilfanion via CC BY-SA 2.0


Hallsands lies on the southern shore of Start Bay which runs from Start Point and Combe Point, 7 miles north by northeast. Situated a mile to the northwest of Start Point, Hallsands can be recognised by the ruins of what was once a thriving fishing village a century ago.

Start Point shelters Start Bay, with the wind to the westward of southwest, and in offshore winds. The whole of this bay provides a good anchorage over sand and gravel with ample water except for within a ½ mile of Start Point where the ground is rocky. The bays popular anchorages are at Blackpool Sands, Slapton Sands and off Beesands. Tucked in behind high ground and at the apex of the eastern projecting spur of Start Point, Hallsands provides the best protection from prevailing winds and the most convenient location to round Start Point.


How to get in?
Start Point with Hallsands in the backdrop
Image: Devon & Beyond from above


Convergance Point Use southwestern England’s coastal overview from Portland Bill to Start Point Route location for seaward approaches. Hallsands is made unmistakable because of its proximity to Start Point. The prominent headland may be recognised by its rugged, cock’s-comb-like appearance and a conspicuous white lighthouse that stands 130 metres inside of its eastern extreme. The five hillocks on the ridge within the lighthouse are each about 60 metres above high water.


Start Point seen from the east
Image: Graham Rabbits


Initial fix location The initial fix sets up an approach from the northwest that passes through the centre of Start Bay. It is on the line of bearing 038° T of Mew Stone just open of the high land on Scabbacombe Head, a mile to the northeast, which provides a clearing line to the northwest of Skerries Bank on which the sea breaks in bad weather. At night the Skerries Bank is covered by the red auxiliary light of Start Point.

There are no local dangers save for Wilson's Rock that lies close inshore to the north of the anchoring area and Long Rock to the south.


Yacht anchored off Hallsands
Image: Devon & Beyond from above


Haven location Anchor off the remains of the village according to draft and conditions as required, it is rare that there will be any other vessels around to accommodate so you will have it all to yourself. The beach shelves steeply, so it is possible to lie quite close to the shore in 3 metres. Holding is excellent sand and shingle throughout the bay. It is best to anchor out as the tide runs to the south nine hours out of the twelve and it might set a boat on the shore if anchored too close in.

The landing beach
Image: Herbythyme via CC ASA 4.0


Land by tender on the open beach situated close north.


Why visit here?
Hallsands has been long described as a testament to man's folly. At the end of the 18th-century, the village was one of several small communities dotted along the Devon coast supporting 128 inhabitants largely by fishing. The village comprised 37 houses, mainly owned by their occupants, as well as a pub, The London Inn, with stables, a post office, greengrocers, bakery, piggery and Mission Room. But all was set to change approaching the turn of the century when the unintended consequence of Admiralty plans, unknown to local fishermen at the time, would lead to an environmental catastrophe for their village.


Hallsands before the dredging
Image: Public Domain


The Admiralty plans were the extension of Devonport Dockyard at Keyham the concrete for which would require around 400,000 cubic metres of shingle. It was decided to be 'a sound business proposition' to dredge the requisite sand and gravel from the seabed at Start Bay and so a planning application was both made and approved without villagers being made aware. The contract was awarded to Sir John Jackson and dredging in the 1,100-metre stretch, from just north of the Hallsands began in April 1897. During the next four years, some 660,000 tonnes of material were dredged at a prodigious rate of 1600 tons per day.

Villagers of Hallsands
Image: Michael Harpur
Activities were eventually stopped when alarmed villages saw the shape and angle of the beach was so altered that the low water mark moved until it was further inland than the old high water mark had been. Following a Board of Trade inspection Jackson was ordered to provide new concrete footings to the seawall and a concrete slipway for the boats, to compensate for the lack of beach. But at the turn of the century, the high spring high tide that once came to from 20-25 metres from the village, before the dredging started, was within a metre. Cracks started to appear in houses at the south end of the village and the seawall was soon undermined. In the years that followed, increasing numbers of the village's houses suffered damage, including the London Inn, which lost the kitchen, a bedroom and the cellars.

The problem was it had been assumed that the shingle would have been naturally replaced by further deposits that lay somewhere out in the English Channel. Unfortunately, it is now known that the shingle that fronted Hallsands and the nearby villages of Beesands and Torcross was in fat deposited thousands of years ago during the ice ages, and is not being replaced. The removed the village’s natural defences left Hallsands entirely exposed to the full force of the sea. And, as is always the case in these situations, it was only a matter of time.


The London Inn being surveyed after it was damaged
Image: Michael Harpur


The end came surprisingly swiftly on the night of 26th of January 1917, when an abnormally high tide coincided with a severe easterly gale. The waves surged over the remains of the shingle bank crashing across the seawall and into the houses beyond. It immediately stove in windows and started to burst open doors flooding ground floors. The resident 17-year-old Edith Patey described her first-hand experience of the night… All of a sudden the walls came toppling down, the floor caved in. We felt like being right in the sea, the roaring waves bouncing over us, the rafters all breaking in. We could see the white waves foaming underneath the floors. The coal house all slipping away, no fires, the sea came down the chimney. Another villager James Lynn recounted The seas were breaking as high as the house. My great trouble was the missus and the four youngsters, who were asleep upstairs, but we got them safely out.

The remains of a house after the 1917 storm
Image: Michael Harpur
Seeing things quickly go from bad to worse the inhabitants gathered the few belongings they could and assembled on the cliff tops above to watch the final blows come. By midnight four houses had gone and by the end of that night only one cottage remaining habitable
out of the original thirty-seven. The Kingsbridge Gazette then led with the headline ‘The beach went to Devonport and the cottages went to the sea’. One owner lamented at the time… What are we going to do?.... we have spent the whole of our lives here fishing. We know no other trade, and we are useless. We have no homes, much of our furniture is lost. I tell you it’s hard, very hard, for our wives and families. It’s all gone.

Various offers of compensation were made and some new houses were built. But the story did not end there and in May 2002 the ‘The Guardian’ unearthed an unpublished report the public records office at Kew in London that... revealed how the fishermen and their families were cheated of compensation recommended by an independent inspector… the inspector recommended compensation of £10,500 to rebuild the village safely inland, and unequivocally found that the dredging caused the collapse... also found at Kew and in the county records, many memos from officials rubbishing the villagers’ claims. In fact most were still camping out nearby, taken in by friends or neighbours or living in rented rooms. After the final collapse in 1917 the inspector recommended that all 25 houses and the reading room should be replaced, and compensation paid for the lost furnishings and fishing gear: £10,500 in all. In 1919, after endless argument and two years of inflation, just 10 houses were built at a cost of £6,000.


Hallsands today
Image: Herbythyme via CC ASA 4.0


From a sailing point of view, Hallsands represents one of the traditional tidegate anchorages along this coast that can be used by yachts plying their way westward down the channel. While the Channel flood is about to commence eastward and it slack at the Start, at +0400 Dover, a favourable westbound stream continues into Start Bay that a vessel may benefit from by standing well inshore towards the middle of the bay passing north of Skerries Bank. This favourable stream continues flowing towards Hallsands until after Dover +0500 when the stream to the south of the Start has turned eastbound for over an hour.


Yachts passing Start Point
Image: Will via CC BY-SA 2.0



It most circumstances it is advisable to stand well of Start Point as tidal rips occur up to a mile south and a mile and a half eastward of the point that is particularly pronounced during spring tides. The velocity of the stream off the point is 3 knots, but when blowing fresh there is a strong race, both on the flood and ebb. However, in fine weather, a vessel anchored at Hallsands can be set to absolutely maximise the next west-going tide by weighing anchor at Dover High Water -0100 with the benefit of the Start Bay eddy naturally pushing down past the point. Then the race can be avoided by passing close to seaward of rocks before the race commences in earnest and just as the favourable west going streams south of Start Point commences at about HW Dover -0130. This advantage may be optimised by anchoring at Hallsands without the diversion of putting into port and the time that entails as well the berthing costs.

However, the bay is entirely open to the east and the fractured remnants of the houses of Hallsands that still cling to rocks above the beach serve as ample warning to what happens here in easterlies. Should the wind back to the south or southeast, Dartmouth is a convenient downwind run.


What facilities are available?
There are no facilities at Hallsands.


Any security concerns?
MHWS 5.5m MHWN 2.2m MLWN 2.2. MLWS 0.8m
HW Dover-0510


With thanks to:
eOceanic


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Hallsands, Devon, England
Image: eOceanic thanks Philip Halling via CC BY-SA 2.0


Hallsands with the Start in the backdrop
Image: eOceanic thanks Philip Halling via CC BY-SA 2.0


Hallsands landing beach
Image: eOceanic thanks Herbythyme via CC ASA 4.0


Remaining house at Hallsands
Image: eOceanic thanks Philip Halling via CC BY-SA 2.0


Remains of ruin Hallsands
Image: eOceanic thanks Psychogeographer


Remains of ruin overlooking Start Bay Hallsands
Image: eOceanic thanks Herbythyme via CC ASA 4.0




Aerial views of Hallsands and Start Point



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