the river erme to outer hope

south west coast path

14th may 2014

Today's weather forecast looks to be fantastic again, with sun forecast all day long and warm temperatures. Woop!

Dartmouth high tide 19:00

Dartmouth low tide 12:02

I resume my walking on a country lane about a mile away from the mouth of the River Erme, first thing in the morning. The plan for the day is to walk to Outer Hope which isn't very far on a map but I'll have to head a long way inland to skirt around the River Avon.

I enjoy the wildflowers romping away in the roadside verges and there are loads of butterflies flittering away even at this early hour. I even find a couple of obliging specimens to photograph.

speckled wood butterfly


wall brown butterfly

cow parsley

I continue down the lane to reach Wonwell Beach and admire the fine views back across Erme Mouth. It's surprisingly busy at this time of the morning - well, there was a couple of dog walkers and three fellow coast path walkers. 

wonwell beach

I walk across Ferrycombe Beach and then I'm immediately greeted by skylark song before climbing onto Beacon Point at 330 feet and then Hoist Point. After that there is a steep drop down to Westcombe Beach. It's pretty remote here so I have the whole beach to myself.

ferrycombe beach

westcombe beach

I climb a steep set of steps and enjoy the fine views over the rugged South Devon coastline before reaching Ayrmer Cove. The beach is deserted so I spend some quality time wandering around, exploring the strandline.

south devon views

ayrmer cove

I climb onto Toby's Point before dropping down to Challaborough Bay. Here can be found the Challaborough Bay Holiday Park. It's busier on Challaborough Beach but you wouldn't guess it from the photograph.

challaborough beach

I amble across the beach admiring the views over to Burgh Island.

I climb off of the beach and head for Bigbury-on-Sea. The tide is out so I enjoy the fine sandy beach and take the opportunity to wander over to Burgh Island. The Pilchard Inn, dating back to 1336, can be found on the island but it's nowhere near opening time. The sea tractor, which carries passengers back and forth between the island and the mainline when the tide is in, is parked next to the island.

pilchard inn

sea tractor

burgh island

I head inland along the B3392 to reach a sign giving details of the ferry over the River Avon.

The ferry only seems to run between 10am and 11am so I've missed it by about three quarters of an hour. I head inland along the 9 mile diversion around the River Avon but almost immediately get lost as the signs make no sense. I abandon the diversion, summon up a lift and head back to Bigbury-on-Sea.

My lift arrives at the Bigbury-on-Sea car park and we drive around the River Avon to reach Bantham village,  passing the Sloop Inn. As I write this, the village of Bantham is due to be sold shortly for an estimated price of £10 million. Seems nice here so I check my pockets but all I've got is loose change.

 I explore sandy Bantham Beach before regaining the coast path proper where there are fine views back along the coast to Burgh Island but I head in the other direction along the edge of Thurlestone Golf Course

bantham beach

I wander across Thurlestone Beach and then South Milton Sands. Thurlestone Rock can be seen out at sea. South Milton Sands features in this short clip from The Storms that Shook the Southwest shown on BBC1.

The coast path is closed here so I divert along a road to Pitchingstone Cross and then along what is flattering described as an unmetalled road - it's a track! The diversion heads back towards the sea and then descends to Hope Cove and my destination for the day, Outer Hope, I get tantalisingly close to Outer Hope (10 metres!) before a bizarre diversion forces me uphill again and around Outer Hope before descending in to the village again.

Easy walking takes me down to the Hope and Anchor Inn. That's the end of the walking for this week. I'll be back on the South West Coast Path on the 7th of June (happy birthday to me!) when I'll probably walk from Penzance to Falmouth.

outer hope


Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-

  • wall brown butterflies
  • speckled wood butterflies
  • peacock butterflies
  • bluebells
  • red campion
  • wild garlic
  • cow parsley
  • skylarks
  • chaffinches
  • navelwort


The podcast of today's walk is now available.  You can subscribe via the iTunes store or listen using the player below.


According to my phone I've walked 15 miles today which amounts to 32274 steps. I've had gorgeous sunny weather all day long, it's been a beautiful spring day and the walking has been fantastic. 9 out of 10.

View the river erme to outer hope in a larger map

the river erme