Let's to the lookout!
PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 November 2014
SIMONE STANBROOK-BYRNE enjoys some fabulous coastal walking as she takes in the views at Devon’s most southerly trip.
Terrain: Coast path and footpaths, a little lane walking
Start point: Near the shelter on East Prawle’s village green, almost opposite the toilets. Grid ref: SX780363. Nearby postcode: TQ7 2BY
Map: OS Explorer OL20, South Devon, Brixham to Newton Ferrers 1:25 000
Distance: 4 miles (6.4km)
Dog friendliness: Very good
Parking: Near the village green in East Prawle (honesty box)
Public transport: Very limited bus service, details from coleridgebus.co.uk
Exertion: Some bouldery sections on the coast and a steep ascent near the end
Refreshments & Comfort stops: Piglet Stores and Café, East Prawle, 01548 511486; The Pig’s Nose, East Prawle, 01548 511209. Public toilets located near village green
Back in the mists of time, thousands of years BC, our island ancestors inhabited this stretch of coastline and kept a watchful eye out to sea. Praewhyll was the Anglo Saxon word for ‘lookout’ and Prawle Point, the most southerly tip of Devon, is an undeniably good vantage point to keep watch for potential invaders or struggling seafarers.
More ‘recently’ East Prawle village is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Throughout the ages the coast here has seen many shipwrecks and smuggled booty was stored at the 500-year-old village inn. Time has moved on and today the volunteers of the National Coastwatch Institution Station at Prawle Point are happy to chat to passers-by about their work.
This is a walk of wonderful, panoramic views, dramatic coastal scenery and lovely coves. Many years ago we spotted an adder – but don’t let that put you off!
1 Walk along the lane away from the toilets and the village centre, with the village green on your left. This is a signed public byway to Prawle Point. Follow the lane for 400m, then, when it bends sharp left, near a three-way fingerpost with the entrance to a house called Ash Park on the right, keep straight ahead on the public bridleway from which you’ll have sea views to your left as you proceed.
Follow this clear track for about ¾ mile until it opens up at a T-junction of paths with a good view of Bolt Head across the bay.
The closer promontory of the Pig’s Nose juts out in front of you – and gives its name to the inn back in the village. You’ll find a blue- and yellow-arrowed post at this junction; go left, following the yellow arrow of the footpath and leaving the blue bridleway. You’re now following a narrower path between hedges.
2 The path descends and at its lower reaches becomes more open. You’ll meet a post with lots of yellow arrows about 400m from the T-junction where you joined the footpath above. At this, go sharp right, still downhill, zigzagging down to meet the acorn-waymarked coast path above Maceley Cove, shown on the next post. Here go left, still heading seawards and now following the coast path, unless you wish to explore the path going right down into the attractive, sheltered cove.
The coast path here makes for glorious walking, make sure the sea is to your right! Some rock scrambling brings you on to the path above the more dramatic Elender Cove.
Keep going, watching your step. Eventually you’ll pass under the craggy bits of Signalhouse Point (shown on OS map), glance up at the cliff face above you where there’s a memorial plaque to Judy Moore, in whose memory this area was given.
The Signalhouse, which was located on the cliffs nearby, formed part of a chain used to warn of possible invasion during the Napoleonic Wars. The plaque is easily missed, but the waymarked coast path is clear.
Some way further on the NCI Station at Prawle Point appears; this is your next port of call and is approached by broad grassy paths leading across the headland. If staff are present they are happy to introduce you to their work and supply you with pens and bottled water. If the light is right you’ll be treated to a glittering sun-path across the sea.
3 Beyond the NCI Station follow the clear coast path, passing a row of superbly-situated cottages on your left. Beyond them ignore the fingerpost pointing left along a bridleway and instead go through a gate to a three-way fingerpost on the far side, at grid ref SX775354 (as shown on its badge). From here continue on the coast path towards Lannacombe.
The way now is less rocky, a gentler part of the walk. About 300m beyond the cottages you meet another leftwards footpath near Langerstone Point (grid ref SX778355). Ignore this too and stay on the coast path for almost another mile, glancing back from time to time to see the rock formation at the end of Prawle Point, a miniature version of Dorset’s Durdle Door. Houses on the outskirts of East Prawle will eventually appear above you as you continue, they command excellent views.
4 After an enjoyable mile of walking from the ignored left path you reach a three-way fingerpost with a badge denoting Horseley Cove (spellings vary) at grid ref SX786360. Here you leave the coast path to carry on without you, and follow the direction of the finger pointing inland along the bridleway to East Prawle, ½ mile away, climbing gently between hedges. 300m from joining the bridleway it emerges from trees to reach an arrowed post. Here follow the yellow arrow, going right up stone steps to enter a field. Climb steeply, straight up through the field to the top boundary. At the top go right for a few metres to find a stone-stepped stile taking you over the pennywort-clad wall.
5 Once over it turn right along the bridleway and soon you reach a rough-surfaced track between houses. Continue uphill, away from the houses on a tarmac lane, passing a house called Sea View on your right. This leads back to the centre of the village and the lure of The Pig’s Nose and Piglet Café.