- Start: Sharkham Point car park
- End: Sharkham Point car park
- Country: England
- County: Devon
- Type: Beach
- Nearest pub: Four pubs in Higher Brixham, including Waterman’s Arms 01803 852028.
- Ordnance Survey: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL20 or Landranger 202.
- Difficulty: Medium
Great coastal scenery, two superb beaches, impressive cliffs and Higher Brixham's charming old buildings amply repay two tough climbs, writes Robert Hesketh
Boots On? Lets go!
1 From Sharkham Point car park takethe Coast Path signed St Marys Bay Beach. When the path divides, keep left towards St Marys Bay. Steps lead the path around the back of the bay and great views of Durl Head and Sharkham Point open out. When you reach a low stile in front of buildings, cross it. Turn left after only 20m, then right into Mudstone Lane and first left into Penn Meadows.
2 Keep left at the hospital, then turn right at a T-junction. Descend to a crossroads. Turn right and, after 100m, left. Ahead is an early 19th-century villa, one of several similar buildings in Higher Brixham, an ancient village known affectionately as Cow Town to distinguish its agricultural basis from that of Fish Town, which developed around Brixham Quay.
Follow Higher Brixhams main street, Drew Street. Knick Knack Lane on the right was reputedly named after the wares sold by local pedlars. Continue to St Marys. This handsome 14 th/15th-century church is built of red sandstone with Beerstone arcades though much of the masonry is under rendering to protect it from salt winds. Follow Drew Street on to the Watermans Arms. A Grade II listed 17th century building remodelled in the early 19th century, it has many attractive features, including sash windows and a sign showing a man bearing buckets of water balanced on a yoke. A short diversion right leads down Horsepool Street, where there are more buildings of interest, including three old farmhouses. Return to Drew Street and continue along it. Turn left opposite a three storey thatched house.
3 Climb Southdown Hill Road. Ignore side turnings. Reaching Southdown Farm, continue ahead on the footpath signed Southdown Lane Man Sands. At a junction, keep left on Man Sands Lane down to the attractive beach of pebbles and shingle, with sand at low tide. A short diversion to the south end of the beach leads to the old lime kiln. On a fine summers day, Man Sands is a good place to relax, enjoy the sun or bathe. However, on the day I last visited in March, there was a cutting easterly wind and breakers pounded the beach. The scene was beautiful but deserted, save for one brave surfer making the most of the strong Spring tide.
4 Turn north and follow the Coast Pathsteeply up the flank of SouthdownCliff. Look back to catch your breath anda cracking view of Man Sands flanked byCrabrock Point. Continue towardsSharkham Point, where a memorial recallsthe faithful dog, Murdoch. Now a naturereserve, Sharkham Point was the site of amine exploiting the red, iron-rich limestonefor haematite, red oxide pigments andochre. Anti-rust paints made by theTorbay Paint Co. from Sharkham mineralswere used in painting Victoria Falls Bridge.
5 Follow the Coast Path around thepoint. Mudstone predominates in StMarys Bay being softer than thelimestone of Durl Head and SharkhamPoint, it eroded faster to form the bay.Continue until you meet the path youstarted out on at a gate. Turn left andretrace your steps to the car park.
Distance: 7.4km (4miles) Time: 2 hours
Terrain Coast Path; tracks; quiet streets.Two steep ascents; one steep descent.
Child/dog friendly Suitable for olderchildren and dogs on leads.
Start Sharkham Points car park at theend of St Marys Road (SX932547).Maps Ordnance Survey Explorer OL20or Landranger 202.
Refreshments Four pubs in HigherBrixham, including Watermans Arms01803 852028.
Transport Buses Central Brixham is wellserved and there are onward services toHigher Brixham 0871 200 2233, www.travelinesw.com
For more walks in this area visit www.bossineybooks.com