CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

East Devon walk: Branscombe and the Jurassic Coast

PUBLISHED: 11:08 12 April 2016 | UPDATED: 11:08 12 April 2016

View across Branscombe Mouth and the thatched Sea Shanty beach café, looking west

View across Branscombe Mouth and the thatched Sea Shanty beach café, looking west


Starting in Branscombe, one of Devon’s most picturesque and flower-rich villages (and one of England’s longest), this ‘walk through time’ explores the countryside and cliffs along a section of the remarkable Jurassic Coast. The geology of this 95-mile stretch of coastline reflects 185 million years of the Earth’s rocky history

Branscombe cottages are often festooned with flowersBranscombe cottages are often festooned with flowers

Terrain: A ‘figure-of-eight’ walk with field, woodland and coast paths. Sometimes rough or muddy underfoot. Brief section of lane in village

Directions to start: Branscombe is in East Devon, signed off the A3052 east of Sidmouth

Start point: Branscombe Village Hall. Post code: EX12 3DB. Grid ref: SY197887

Parking: Car park behind village hall with ‘honesty’ wishing well

Public transport: Buses serve Branscombe, details from

Map: OS Explorer 115, Exmouth & Sidmouth and OS Explorer 116, Lyme Regis & Bridport

Distance: 4¼ miles/6.8km Toilets: Behind village hall and at Branscombe Mouth

Dog friendliness: Good

Refreshments: Fountain Head Inn, Street, Branscombe, EX12 3BG (01297 680359); Masons Arms, Branscombe, EX12 3DJ (01297 680300); Old Bakery Tea Rooms, Branscombe, EX12 3DB (01297 680333); Sea Shanty Beach Café, Branscombe Mouth, EX12 3DP (01297 680577). Opening times vary seasonally

Branscombe walkBranscombe walk


1. From the village hall car park turn right along the lane, passing the thatched forge (right) and tea gardens (left). Follow the lane uphill to the church where a footpath sign directs you through the gates into the churchyard. Follow the surfaced path to the church and as you reach the building a path goes left off the surfaced path, away from the church, passing between the graves and yew trees. Follow this for less than 100 metres to a stile leading out of the churchyard.

About 30metres from the stile, cross the footbridge and follow the path uphill through the field, heading towards the tree line with the field boundary on your right. At the trees another stile leads into the woods. Cross this and ascend the steps beyond, winding up through the trees to another stile. Beyond this turn left, still going slightly uphill under trees, fence to the left.

2. Ascend to a broad crossing path, the South West Coast Path. Go left – although not immediately visible, the sea is to your right. At a kissing gate, where a sign indicates the National Trust land of West Cliff, continue ahead, ignoring the stile on the left after the kissing gate. In about 150 metres the path emerges from trees. Continue in the same direction across the top of the field with lovely views left across the valley and village. The path re-enters trees and goes through another kissing gate, still on the coast path. When you reach a right fork keep ahead unless you wish to go right to the viewpoint – in which case be cautious, it is a precipitous drop. The coast path starts to descend; ignore any turns off and keep ahead. You emerge from the trees to an impressive view across Branscombe Mouth.

The cliffs of the Jurassic Coast are spectacular. It was in this bay that MS Napoli was beached in 2007 and Branscombe made the national news. Much damage was caused to wildlife and people flocked here from all over the country, magnetised by the prospect of “pickings for all”. An eclectic cargo, from dog food to BMW motorbikes, walked off the beach. Keep descending on the coast path. Wooden-edged steps make it slightly easier and these drop to a crossing path, turn right and immediately left to another kissing gate – you are basically heading in the same direction all the way through here. Continue down the field towards a substantial house, sea still to your right. At the bottom of the field go through a gateway into the next field and head diagonally down the field, towards the sea and the thatched Sea Shanty Beach Café. Outside it is the salvaged anchor from MS Napoli.

3. From the Sea Shanty cross the footbridge over the river, or wade through the ford, then pass through a kissing gate on the right with a fingerpost pointing towards Beer village, two miles away. This area is East Cliff. Follow the path for Beer heading up the right-hand side of the field towards a gate, sea still to the right. he path climbs to meet a concrete track leading into the beautifully-located and quite sensitively laid-out Sea Shanty Caravan Park. Walk ahead on the main track through the site until, just over 100metres from the entrance, a narrow footpath goes right. Take this, following a section of the coast path that traverses the remarkable habitat of the Hooken Undercliff.

This area was formed one night in 1790 when about ten acres of cliff slumped towards the sea. The land dropped about 60metres leaving prominent chalk pinnacles and the tangled remains of what had been clifftop fields and hedges. The seaward pressure of the slip caused a reef to rise just off the coast, raising the previous day’s lobster pots with it. Later, during the 19th century, the Undercliff was used to cultivate potatoes. Enjoy tree-framed glimpses of the sea with magnificent cliffs towering above – all part of the Jurassic Coast and the haunt of peregrines. The undulating path through the Undercliff continues for almost a mile. Towards its end, glance back at the cliffs beneath, which you’ve walked for a good view of an elevated cave and its petrified guardian. The path starts to ascend and becomes stepped, heading left up the cliff – don’t go right as that way lies a sudden drop. Continue uphill, until you eventually emerge from the Undercliff area at a kissing gate and three-way fingerpost.

4. Here turn left, away from Beer, walking back across the top of the Hooken Cliffs towards Branscombe Mouth. Go through another gate, beyond which is an old lookout with adjacent cottage. Keep straight ahead past it, sea to the left. Beyond the lookout, at the end of the field, keep going in the same direction, re-entering the National Trust land of East Cliff. Follow the clear path and a wooden post shows that a bridleway diverges to the right, but the footpath you need is straight on, dropping down into the valley towards the Sea Shanty. There are big views across Branscombe village from here.

At a fingerpost with diminutive fingers sporting the coast path acorn symbol, head down the steps, knees firmly in gear. Cross a stile and keep descending. Re-cross the concrete track to the caravan park, retracing your steps to the Sea Shanty. Walk past its entrance towards the back of the building and turn right, looking for the footpath signed for Branscombe Village, less than one mile away. This is where you are heading.

5. Follow this clear path, crossing a footbridge after about 250metres and continuing towards Branscombe Village, as shown on the fingerpost just after the bridge.

About 700metres from the footbridge you reach barns where the path emerges near another fingerpost. Here go left, shown as ‘public footpath link to coast path’ heading for the National Trust’s Manor Mill. At the mill buildings walk up the slope between them and go through the second small gate on the right, adjacent to these buildings.

6. Walk through the field, stream to your left, passing through a double gate over a footbridge. At the end of the next small field pass through another gate and cross another bridge. This well-trodden path leads through a series of small fields and across rivulets until you find yourself walking through an orchard leading to the Old Bakery Tea Gardens.

This is just across the lane from your start point. Whether or not tea awaits depends on the time of year, but Branscombe’s real ale inns are a good alternative with which to finish the walk. w

Next month we go off the beaten track to Kennerleigh

What to look out for:

- Seasonal floral displays/open garden

- Features of the Jurassic Coast and Hooken Undercliff

- MS Napoli’s anchor

- Peregrine falcons above the cliffs

- Superb views

- Occasional dolphins

Like this? Check out 10 Beautiful Coastal Walks In Devon: And What To Look Out For Along The Way


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Wild camping can be one of the best ways to escape the crowds for a night or two and lose yourself in the landscape - SOPHIE PAVELLE chooses her five favourite places to ‘wild-life’ camp in Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From sandy beaches and lighthouse-topped cliffs to views of the Jurassic Coast, the Devon coastline offers many perfect locations for a seaside walk. We pick 10 of the prettiest routes to take

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Take our quiz to find out how well you really know Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As the weather starts to warm up and the Devon countryside beckons, LIZZIE JANE of the National Trust in the South West offers plenty of walk ideas for you to try. Whether you want a relaxed Sunday stroll or a more strenuous hike, here are 10 walks across Devon (and beyond) to help you escape the crowds and head off the beaten track

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The South West Coast Path is celebrating 40 years by calling on people to help raise £40,000. To show their support, teams from Devon’s top tourist attractions are preparing to take to the trail. CHRISSY HARRIS finds out more

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Away from the hustle of places like Woolacombe and Ilfracombe, North Devon is peppered with tiny coves, empty beaches and wooded walks leading to secluded bays that feel a million miles away from the tourist trail. BECKY DICKINSON reveals her pick of the best kept secrets on the North Devon coast

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

As part of her regular series where she visits Devon’s best places for 24 hours, Lydia Tewkesbury has this time been to Sidmouth

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ranging from rocky and windy walkways along the South West Coast Path to the sandy beaches on the picturesque coastline, the district of North Devon is one of the prettiest coastal areas in the South West of England. In no particular order, here are 10 of the prettiest villages in the district of North Devon

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In Devon’s towns and cities there’s an awful lot you can do in just 24 hours. For her regular feature, Lydia Tewkesbury travels to see what you can do in a day in Kingsbridge

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Villages in Devon are some of the prettiest in the South West. From beautiful little hamlets on the outskirts of the moors to seaside communities, we pick 10 villages in Devon you need to visit

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Dust off your walking shoes and head to South Devon – here are 6 reasons why the area is so good for a stroll writes Victoria Rogers

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

There is something quite life-enriching about being by the water and in Devon there are plenty of ways to enjoy it, writes Fran McElhone. Including surfing, wild swimming, water skiing and more, here are 10 great ways to enjoy Devon’s water

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Encompassing large swathes of Dartmoor and plenty of the county’s most distinctive sections of coastline, it’s no wonder that the South Hams district is home to some of Devon’s prettiest places. We pick out 10 of the best towns and villages the area has to offer

Read more
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Devon is as beautiful underwater as it is above. Chrissy Harris highlights the best places to discover our county’s hidden depths… Here are 6 great places for crabbing, rockpooling and diving

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search