herons rest to broadsands, brixham and back again

john musgrave heritage trail, dart valley trail, greenway walk and south west coast path

monday, 6th may 2019

The weather forecast looks pretty good. It should be sunny most of the day but it’s not going to be particularly warm again.

Dartmouth high tide 08:04

Dartmouth low tide 13:45

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tide times 2.jpg

I start the day at our holiday cottage, Herons Rest, set high above the River Dart and Dartmouth. I leave the cottage and head left along the road where I pass Maypool Youth Hostel.

the view from herons rest

The wildflowers in the hedgerows are looking at their very best.

I enter a field where I have magnificent views over the River Dart before entering the grounds of Greenway House.

view over the river dart


I come across a signpost for the Greenway Walk and head off in the direction it is pointed.

I follow a footpath through fields and next to farm buildings to reach Lower Greenway where I come across a lime kiln on the beach next to the river.

lime kiln

The lime kiln on the beach is one of several scattered on the estuary foreshore, and limestone from the quarry across the creek was burnt here to produce a soil fertiliser. The area from Berry Head sits on a thick bed of Devonian limestone, once marine reefs, and Galmpton was an important centre for quarrying the stone on the River Dart. It was also used as a ballast in the early ships sailing from here to Newfoundland, and Galmpton Creek limestone has been found in some of the earliest buildings in the New World. It also appears in French and Spanish harbours, for the same reason.

My notes tell me I can cross the beach here. What my notes don’t tell me is that the beach is swallowed up at high tide and the path is impassable. It happens to be just about high tide and I won’t be crossing the beach for a few hours.

high tide

I retrace my steps back up to a minor road and follow this for a while towards Galmpton. A bit unexpectedly I come across Greenway Halt just below the road. Next to the entrance to Greenway Halt a sign points through fields telling me that there is a permissive path to Galmpton.

I follow the sign into a field and climb down to cross a stream. I continue following paths which take me to Galmpton Creek.

galmpton creek

Galmpton Creek has been a boatbuilding centre for centuries, and in its heyday over 300 sailing trawlers were built here, as well as wooden motor torpedo boats during World War II. It is still a bustling marine repair centre, but its use nowadays is mostly for pleasure craft.

I pass Dartside Quay where I join Kiln Lane. I follow the lane which passes another lime kiln before joining onto Stoke Gabriel Road which takes me through Galmpton.

another lime kiln

Next to the turning into Slade Lane can be found the Manor Inn.

manor inn

I turn left into Slade Lane and follow the road up to Galmpton Warborough Common.

galmpton warborough common

It is a pleasant surprise to find early purple orchids covering the football pitch here. It doesn’t look like football is played very often here!

I pass the war memorial next to the A3022.

war memorial

I cross the busy road and then follow a footpath which takes me underneath the arches of Hookhills Viaduct, below the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway line.

railway arches

The viaduct was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Construction commenced in 1860, after Brunel’s death, and was opened to the railway in 1864. The viaduct has nine arches and is 85 feet tall and 116 yards long.

I follow the road which takes me down to the large, curving red sandy beach at Broadsands. I amble out along the beach before retracing my steps, admiring the colourful beach huts and the newly restored Broadsands Bistro.

I leave Broadsands and amble along the South West Coast Path around Churston Point to reach the shingly Elberry Cove.

elberry cove

I amble along the beach and then head along the coast path besides Churston Golf Club before passing Fishcombe Point to reach Churston Cove, where I now have views towards Brixham Harbour.

churston cove

I cross the shingly and rocky beach and climb up onto the coast path and continue towards Brixham, dropping steeply down to Fishcombe Cove.

fishcombe cove

I climb steeply out again and head through Battery Gardens where the remains of 378 Battery Artillery Southern Command can be found. I head along Oxen Cove next to what was once AstraZeneca's Brixham Environmental Laboratory but which was donated to Plymouth University in 2013.

oxen cove

I pass through the car park where a new shellfish landing jetty is being constructed to improve Brixham’s fishing infrastructure. It should be open in Summer 2019. I then pass Brixham Fish Market to reach the centre of Brixham.


I amble along the harbour and pass the full sized replica of the Golden Hind in which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe.


I retrace my steps back through Brixham and head back towards Fishcombe Cove where I pick up the John Musgrave Heritage Trail.

The John Musgrave Heritage Trail is a 35 mile walking trail encompassing parts of Torbay, South Hams and Teignbridge. It was launched in March 2006 in memory of John Musgrave, a former chairman of the South Devon Group of the Ramblers, whose generous legacy to the group on his death in 2003 has been used to fund the development of the trail. John was an enthusiastic walker, leading walks in many of the areas through which the trail passes.

I pass through woods and then open scrubby ground where I come across whitethroats singing. I follow a track where I hear a cuckoo before joining a road which leads me into the village of Churston Ferrers. I explore the village and come across Churston Manor Hotel and St Mary the Virgin.

churston manor hotel

st mary the virgin

I rejoin the John Musgrave Heritage Trail and wander along Churston Road to reach Churston Cross. I cross the A3022 and pass Alston Farm. The wildflowers are looking delightful in the hedgerows.

I come across a field of rape.


At Higher Alston I fail at the final hurdle. Either I missed a sign or it doesn’t exist. I should have headed through fields to my left but instead I keep ambling on to reach the busy A379 which I warily cross by dodging the speeding cars.

Directly opposite me there should be a footpath. There isn’t. Instead I’m met by a massive, locked gate. There should be another footpath a little further up the road. There isn’t. I just find a wooden gate covered in barbed wire.

I return to the massive gate and climb over it and walk through fields in the general direction of Higher Greenway. I can see the Paignton and Dartmouth steam train chugging along below me.

It’s clear that this isn’t a footpath so I retrace my steps back to the main road and clamber back over the gate. I’m confused so I’ve got no option but to take the safe route down the A379 and through Galmpton and out through to Higher Greenway. It’s rather a long last trek to get me back to Herons Rest, our holiday cottage for the week.

[Addendum: I retrace my steps back to Higher Alston a couple of days later to see where I went wrong and there is indeed a sign pointing left up a track. Unfortunately it was hidden behind a big, red ‘Road Closed’ sign so it’s no wonder I missed it!]


Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-

  • honeysuckle

  • bluebells

  • green alkanet

  • red campion

  • herb robert

  • wild garlic

  • garlic mustard

  • early purple orchids

  • periwinkle

  • red valerian

  • daisy

  • greater stitchwort

  • ivy-leaved toadflax

  • cow parsley

  • alexanders

  • primrose

  • bush vetch

  • herb bennett

  • rape

  • chiffchaffs

  • song thrushes

  • chaffinches

  • wrens

  • whitethroats

  • a cuckoo

  • swallows

  • a buzzard

  • pheasants

  • great tits

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

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According to my phone I've walked 14.2 miles today which amounts to 31532 steps. I’ve walked around 3-4 miles further than I should have done at the end of the walk which brings the score down on what was otherwise a thoroughly pleasant walk. Eight out of ten!


early purple orchid

hookhills viaduct




dartmouth to marldon via brixham and paignton


saturday, 10TH september 2016

It looks like it will be a filthy start to the day but if I'm patient the weather should improve throughout the day and I should have some decent walking conditions later on.

Paignton high tide 12:15

Paignton low tide 18:33

We start the first day of Autumn coast path walking by taking the car over the River Dart on the Higher Ferry and then drive into Dartmouth and park up. It's a filthy start to the day and chucking it down so I hang around in the car for a bit hoping the rain will ease off. It doesn't so I don my waterproofs and head off.

I head through the lower part of Dartmouth, not particularly enjoying the manky weather.

manky dartmouth

I cross back over the River Dart to Kingswear using the lower ferry which costs me £1.50. On reaching Kingswear I pass under an arch next to the post office and then climb up Alma Steps.

I take one final look back over to Dartmouth and then set off for Brixham.

view over dartmouth from kingswear

I follow a minor road out of the village and then follow a private road towards Kingswear Court. I enter Warren Woods and zig zag down a slope, cross over a stream and then zig zag up the other side of the valley.

I now have lovely views back over to Dartmouth Castle on the other side of the river mouth. At least they would be lovely if it wasn't still raining heavily!

I reach Brownstone Battery at Inner Froward Point, built in 1940 to protect the Dart estuary and Slapton and Blackpool Sands from enemy invasion. The battery consists of two gun positions and each would have been armed with six inch guns. The gun emplacements remain to this day as do the two magazines that served the guns. Below the gun emplacements are two searchlight positions which would have scanned the sea for enemy ships.

brownstone battery

The path zig zags up and down the cliffs towards Outer Froward Point where, out to sea, can be seen Shooter Rock, Shag Stone and Mew Stone. I continue meandering along the coast path passing Old Mill Bay, Kelly's Cove and Pudcombe Cove. On the way I come across some friendly ponies who just stand around blocking the coast path.

friendly ponies

Eventually a fellow walker turns up and barges through the ponies. I follow in his footsteps. 

I come across the rear entrance of Coleton Fishacre which used to be infested with rhododendrons (presumably ponticum) but these appear to have been grubbed up now leaving hydrangeas all around.

The weather is finally brightening up and I can see some bits of blue sky. I come across a sign telling me that Man Sands is two and a quarter miles away.

blue sky! man sands two and a quarter miles away

I come across an apple tree laden with apples and presumably grown from a discarded core before rounding Scabbacombe Head where the skies are now decidedly blue. I pass another pony munching on the bracken.

blue skies over scabbacombe and man sands

A steep, slippery and muddy descent leads me down to Scabbacombe Sands. The edge of the stream near the top of the beach smells of mint. The beach is deserted.

scabbacombe sands

I head along the cliffs high above Long Sands and round Crabrock Point, passing Crabrock Point Coastguard Cottage, to reach Man Sands where I enjoy the pebbly and sandy beach.  

man sands

It is a steep climb up onto Southdown Cliff where I pass cows making an awful racket.


I reach Sharkham Point and then  head around St Mary's Bay, passing below the holiday village. I head down some scabby steps where the cliffs are infested with japanese knotweed and head out onto St Mary's Bay Beach. There are a few dog walkers on the beach.

st mary's bay beach

japanese knotweed infestation

It is now a short walk to Berry Head, a National Nature Reserve, where I amble along the meandering paths.

I join a road which passes the Berry Head Hotel and walk through Shoalstone Car Park. It is now a pleasant waterfront walk leading me into Brixham where I pass above the art deco Shoalstone Sea Water Pool. A harbourside walk from the breakwater takes me to the centre of the town where a statue of William Prince of Orange, who landed here on the 5th of November 1688,  stands at the head of the harbour.

The Liberties of England and The Protestant Religion I Will Maintain

Brixham is heaving with people on this now pleasant Saturday afternoon, probably not helped by the fact that Fishstock Brixham seafood and music festival is taking place today.


I go in search of an ice lolly to cool me down and then pass the full sized replica of the Golden Hind in which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe and then pass Brixham Fish Market, where Fishstock is in full swing,  before heading out of Brixham at Oxen Cove next to what was once AstraZeneca's Brixham Environmental Laboratory but which was donated to Plymouth University in 2013

oxen cove

I climb up concrete steps to reach Battery Gardens and pass the Brixham Battery Heritage Centre. I round Fishcombe Cove and a steep climb out of the cove awaits.

fishcombe cove

I walk around the beach at Churston Cove and a woodland path takes me past Churston Golf Club.

churston cove

I walk across the shingly beach at Elberry Cove, which is surprisingly busy,  before rounding Churston Point to reach the delightful Broadsands, you guessed it, a broad sandy beach flanked by colourful beach huts.

elberry cove

I enjoy the sandy beach here before walking past the colourful beach huts and exit at the far end of the beach, passing beneath the railway viaduct.

colourful beach huts at broadsands

I then follow the railway line towards Goodrington Sands and the Paignton to Kingswear steam train passes me, heading in the opposite direction. I head along the beach at Goodrington Sands, passing the colourful beach huts and head past the Inn on the Quay. The emptying pints on the tables look very inviting.

I follow paths over Roundham Head and walk through Roundham Gardens where I have lovely views back over Goodrington Sands.

view back over goodrington sands

 Paignton is now laid out in front of me.

I pass Paignton's tiny harbour and walk along the esplanade to reach the pier where I head inland in search of a much needed ice lolly. It has been a hot end to the day.

I head along the busy Paignton streets full of amusement arcades and it's now time to finish my walk by heading inland along the busy main road to reach the village of Marldon, on the outskirts of Paignton, where our holiday cottage for the week resides.

Unbelieveably, although I've been climbing up and down cliffs all day long, the long ascent out of Paignton to Marldon proves to be the steepest ascent of the day!


Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-

  • hydrangeas
  • agapanthus
  • fig trees
  • echiums
  • blackberries
  • gorse
  • bracken
  • buzzards
  • honeysuckle
  • oxeye daisies
  • black sheep
  • mint
  • cows
  • red campion
  • red admiral butterflies
  • speckled wood butterflies
  • a comma butterfly
  • stonechats


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 22.6 miles today which amounts to 50823 steps. Ouch! It has been a lovely day's walking on the South West Coast Path, despite a manky start to the day. Nine out of ten!

My total ascent today has been 1161 metres or 3809 feet.



goodrington sands