The Parish of Stokenham, bounded by the black line on the map, covers the whole of the southern half of Start Bay, from Slapton Sands to Start Point and on to Lannacombe Beach. It encompasses the villages of Torcross, Beesands, Hallsands, Kellaton, Kernborough, Dunstone, Beeson and Chillington, as well as Stokenham itself, covers an area of some 20.6 square kilometres, and has a population of approximately 2,000.
The seven larger settlements and many smaller hamlets and farms are connected by miles of narrow country lanes, byways, bridleways and footpaths. The main arterial route in and out of the parish is the A379, which runs north to Dartmouth and west to Kingsbridge. This route is serviced by the First Western National Bus Company, with connections available to Plymouth (change for Derriford Hospital), Salcombe, Dartmouth, Totnes (our nearest main line railway station) and Exeter. The parish also enjoys the service of The Coleridge Bus, a community bus providing weekly runs from outlying areas to Kingsbridge. There are airports at Plymouth and Exeter.
The road between Torcross and Strete Gate suffered significant damage during the recent Storm Emma. The southern section of the road from Slapton Turn (Sands Road) to Torcross has now been cleared of shingle but a 450 metre section between Sands Road and Strete Gate was undermined and partially washed away, and is likely to be closed for some time while Devon County Council engineers evaluate the extent of the damage.
All agencies involved in the Slapton Line Partnership, including South Hams District Council, the Environment Agency, Natural England, South Devon AONB, the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Field Studies Council at Slapton Ley, and Devon County Council, together with the three Parish Councils of Stokenham, Slapton and Strete, are working to establish the best way to reconnect local communities in the area.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet member for Highway Management, said: "Public safety is our paramount concern and we would advise people to please follow the diversion and obey the road closure. We appreciate this is a vital route and we are working closely with our partners to decide on the best course of action from here."
Councillor Julian Brazil, local County Councillor for Kingsbridge and South Hams Councillor, said: "We want to reopen the road as quickly as possible but that will need funding from Central Government or their agencies. We need to see what permissions or agreements may be required. Last time there was damage at the Torcross end all the various parties worked together and we managed to sort thing out pretty quickly. I'm hoping it will be the same again."
Photo courtesy of Paul Farrier