• Start: Darthaven Marina car park
  • End: Darthaven Marina car park
  • Country: England
  • County: Devon
  • Type: Mountainous
  • Nearest pub:
  • Ordnance Survey:
  • Difficulty: Hard
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Wonderful views and a great deal of historic interest amply compensate for some steep gradients on this beautiful coastal circuit from Kingswear via Coleton Fishacre, writes Robert Hesketh

Up, Down & Along

Wonderful views and a great deal of historic interest amply compensate for some steep gradients on this beautiful coastal circuit from Kingswear via Coleton Fishacre, writes Robert Hesketh.

1 Turn right out of the Darthaven Marina car park. Walk down to Kingswear station. First opened in 1864, the station and the railway line to Paignton was closed in 1972, but happily restored in GWR splendour with period rolling stock and steam trains by the Dart Valley Railway Company. Next to the station is the Royal Dart Hotel. Requisitioned by the Royal Navy during the Second World War, it controlled several Motor Gun Boat, Motor Trpedo Boat and Motor Launch flotillas. Co-operating with French Resistance, they smuggled secret agents into occupied France and smuggled Allied aviators back. Memorabilia in the bar tells the story.

Follow the coastal footpath by Royal Dart through an arch and left up steps. Turn right, ignore side turnings and stick with the coast path along the tarmac drive.

2 Turn right at a coast path sign for Froward Point and a plaque commemorating Lt Col Jones, VC OBE, of Falklands War fame. Descend to a small castellated building, once a mill. A steep ascent follows. The path continues through Monterey Pines to Brownstone Battery.

3 Built in 1940, Brownstone Battery has interpretation boards and a small visitor centre. The battery is a rare survival among over a hundred coastal artillery batteries built along Englands south coast during the Second World War. Armed with two 6 inch naval guns, it complemented the Brixham Battery (also extant) and provided vital cover for the approaches to Dartmouth. Brownstone was quite substantial, with various buildings including an observation post, generator shed, soldiers quarters, an officers mess, searchlights and magazines, most of which survive. It was manned by 230 men of the Bedfordshire Yeomanry Regiment from 1940-42 and afterwards by the Home Guard. On site too is the Coastwatch post. Visitors are welcome and the friendly staff knowledgeable about wildlife as well as things nautical. After exploring the battery, follow the stony track towards Higher Brownstone car park for 100m only (or shortcut directly to point 5 via the daymark). Turn right Link to Coast Path and continue for 1.6km (1 mile).

4 To bypass Coleton Fishacre, turn left onto a path signed Car Parks. Follow the path up steps and continue with the hedge on your left to join an enclosed track. Turn left when you reach the lane, signed Brownstone car park. If you wish to visit Coleton Fishacre (see Information), continue along the Coast Path 250m and bear left at the gate. This is not a public right of way. Access is by National Trust membership or by paying at Reception. Follow the steep path through the gardens. Noted for their many exotic plants and trees, they are lovely through the seasons. Continue to the house. Built in stone quarried on site in 1925 for the DOyly Carte family, it has much operatic memorabilia, especially of Gilbert and Sullivan productions, and reflects the best of the Arts and Crafts movement in design and furnishings. Especially charming are the Bluthner piano and the hand-painted map of the area with its weather vane. Continue to Reception. Follow the tarred drive uphill. Turn left onto the lane for Higher Brownstone car park. Divert into the car park to view the daymark, but return to the lane and do not take the track leading directly out of the car park.

5 The lane becomes a public footpath. Continue ahead Public Footpath Kingswear at Brownstone, descending then climbing to a tarred drive. Follow the drive to Point 2, marked by the plaque to Lt Col Jones.

6 (Point 2) Retrace your route to Kingswear.

Distance: 10km (6 ) miles

Time: 3 hours

Exertion: Challenging

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