A coastline of spectacular rugged cliffs and headlands, interspersed with lower-lying areas, sandy beaches and the five distinctive ria river estuaries of the Dart, Avon, Yealm, Erme and Salcombe bounded by windswept open mixed farmland plateaux.
The coastal scenery also includes reedbeds, sand dunes, shingle ridges, mud flats, salt marshes, and the freshwater lake of Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve. This variety provides habitat for a diverse range of wildlife including rarities such as the cirl bunting. The South West Coast Path National Trail running along the whole stretch of heritage coast, provides access to spectacular scenery, long views across bays and the English Channel, interesting beaches, and a scattering of coastal villages & historic towns such as Salcombe & Dartmouth.
South Devon Heritage Coast was designated in December 1986. It is managed by Natural England.