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

weather forecast 2.jpg
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

podcast logo small.png


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

8 out of 10.png


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




beachcombing - part 2


thursday 27TH - friday 28TH SEPTEMBER 2018

maenporth - 27th september 2018

It’s time to tackle the Falmouth beaches. After a misty and cold start the sun is out and it’s starting to warm up. I’ll amble along Maenporth, Swanpool and then Gyllyngvase before heading in to Falmouth.



beach collection

swanpool - 27th september 2018




beach collection

gyllyngvase - 27th september 2018


beach collection

perran sands - 27th september 2018

It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m at Perran Sands at low tide. I’ve never been here at low tide before but it’s rather nice.

perran sands

beach collection

loe bar - 28th september 2018

I wander down from our cottage near to Helston, along a nice footpath through the Penrose estate, to Porthleven, stopping off at Loe Bar on the way.

loe bar

beach collection

porthleven sands - 28th september 2018

Oops! I somehow managed to knock my wide angle lens into manual focus mode so I haven’t got any wide angle shots of Porthleven Sands.

beach collection

That’s it. It’s the last day of our holiday and we travel home tomorrow. After a filthy day travelling down on Saturday the weather has been glorious. Thank you Cornwall.


podcast logo small.png

The podcast of this beachcombing is now available. You can subscribe via the iTunes store or listen using the player below.

beachcombing - part 1

south west coast path

monday 24th - wednesday 26th september 2018

We’re staying in a cottage situated between Helston and Porthleven this week. I’m having a week off from walking so instead I’ll be beachcombing the various beaches around here and I’m spoilt for choice. I could visit :-

  • porthcurno

  • lamorna cove

  • mousehole

  • penzance

  • marazion

  • perran sands

  • praa sands

  • porthleven

  • loe bar

  • gunwalloe fishing cove

  • church cove

  • poldhu cove

  • polurrian cove

  • mullion cove

  • kynance cove

    and maybe the Falmouth beaches at :-

  • maenporth

  • swanpool

  • gyllyngvase

Not sure how many I’ll get to so we’ll have to see.

porthcurno - 24th september 2018

We travelled down to Cornwall in filthy weather on Saturday. The weather forecast for Sunday was also filthy but it turned out to be quite a nice day and the weather this morning is glorious.

Porthcurno is one of my favourite beaches on the south west coast path. There’s a large film crew camped in Porthcurno as we arrive - presumably filming Poldark - but they don’t appear to be doing very much so the beach is very quiet.




beach collection

praa sands - 24th september 2018

The last time I passed through Praa Sands the sand had been washed away by winter storms but normal order has been restored.

praa sands

praa sands

beach collection

poldhu - 25th september 2018

It is another beautiful morning and there are already quite a few people enjoying the beach at Poldhu.




beach collection

church cove - 25th september 2018

It is a short walk around from Poldhu to Church Cove.

church cove

church cove

church cove

beach collection

penzance - 26th september 2018

It is another beautiful morning and there’s not a cloud in the sky. I start the day at Newlyn before making my way across the beach at Penzance and then I amble across Marazion Beach.


marazion - 26th september 2018


beach collection


podcast logo small.png

The podcast of this beachcombing is now available. You can subscribe via the iTunes store or listen using the player below.

newquay to perranporth

south west coast path

monday, 3rd september 2018

The weather forecast doesn't look very good for today and those pesky winds, admittedly light, are blowing from the wrong direction.

Newquay high tide 10:57

Newquay low tide 17:25

weather forecast.jpg
tide times.jpg

I start the day back in stinky Newquay next to the war memorial by the Atlantic Hotel. It is a properly murky start to the day.

war memorial

It's a late start for me today as the tide is in so I will need to take the ferry over the River Gannel and the ferry doesn't start until 10am.

I round Towan Head and I now have magnificent, if rather murky, views over Fistral Beach.

murky fistral beach

I drop down on to the beach and trudge my way along the golden sand. There are many surfers enjoying one of the finest surfing beaches around. There's not much wind though so the surf is rather pathetic.

leaving fistral beach

At the far end of the beach I join the Esplanade where I pass the Fistral Beach Hotel (@FistralBeachH), exclusively for adults. What have they got against kids? I walk along Pentire Point East, double back on myself and then walk through the car park here.

I turn down Riverside Crescent following a sign which points down towards the Fern Pit Cafe and Ferry (@fernpitcafe). As I get to the cafe a church bell chimes 10. Perfect timing! I wait around for another 10 minutes before the cafe opens. Good job I'm not in a hurry.

I climb down the zig-zag steps to reach the ferry boathouse on the bank of the River Gannel. I climb aboard the ferry and we putter across the river to reach Crantock Beach. The fare is £1.20.

The path through the dunes can be a bit fiddly so I head out on to the beach instead to enjoy the fine, golden sand.

murky crantock beach

I head across the beach below the Bowgie Inn, surely one of the best placed pubs ever, and perfect for thirsty walkers wanting a pint with a fine view. 

The tide is a long way in so I exit the beach through the dune system to rejoin the coast path and continue on grassy slopes around Pentire Point West. It's pretty murky now and has started to drizzle.

leaving crantock beach

I drop down to reach the beautiful and secluded beach at Porth Joke, sometimes known as Polly Joke. I had no idea why so I had to look it up. The name Polly Joke is thought to be derived from the Corhish Pol-Lejouack meaning Jackdaw Cove. Makes sense now as there are an awful lot of jackdaws about.

Despite its seclusion there are quite a few people either on the beach or heading to the beach. I head down to the sea before heading back up the beach to cross a footbridge over the stream here and climb onto the grassy Kelsey Head.

porth joke

I round Kelsey Head and have beautiful, but very murky views over Holywell Bay which ranks right up there with Constantine Bay.

overlooking murky holywell bay

The coast path ambles gently downhill to the sand dunes and a boardwalk and steps take me down to the beach. And what a beautiful beach it is. The last time I was here it was blowing a gale and I couldn't get on to the beach but today conditions are much calmer if wet and grey and I amble along the beach. It's still pretty windy though. Whatever happened to the forecast for light breezes?

holywell beach

Holywell is a tiny place but is served by two pubs, the Treguth Inn (@thetreguthinn) and St Pirans Inn.

I head back into the dune system where a footbridge takes me over the river. A sign warns me that adders may be basking on sunny days but there's no chance of that today.


A now overgrown big, red sign warns me about the dangers of entering Penhale Army Training Area. Odd because Penhale Camp was closed by the Ministry of Defence in April 2010 and partially sold off in September of the same year.

penhale army training area

I round Penhale Point, taking one last glance back over Holywell.

leaving holywell

I avoid the mine shafts and the leftover army junk and continue along the cliffs above Hobblyn's Cove.

Penhale Camp is now the home to the Penhale Military Adventure Training Centre and offers a broad range of military adventurous training.

I round Ligger Point and have magnificent, but very, very, murky views along Perran Bay. I can't make out anything ahead so I've no idea whether I can make it all the way along the beach to Perranporth. I know there's an exit point about a mile down the beach but I can't make this out in the murk. I'll just have to take my chances and hope that I don't have to retrace my steps.

murky perran bay

I wander down the path to reach Perran Beach and I now hopefully have at least a one mile trudge along fine, golden sands before clambering back onto the sand dunes to reach Perranporth.

Behind the beach is Penhale Sands, the most extensive system of sand dunes in Cornwall.

About a mile down the beach I come to the exit point next to the lifeguard station but it looks like I can continue along the beach all the way to Perranporth so I do.

There's one section where the sea almost reaches the cliffs but I can get through quite easily so I continue along the beach to reach Perranporth. It is looking rather murky.

murky perranporth

And that's the end of the walk. A short and sweet walk today if rather grey, murky and damp.


Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-

  • a song thrush

  • spiders

  • heather

  • birds-foot trefoil

  • knapweed

  • ribbed melilot

  • sea holly

  • snails

It was a rather murky day for looking out for flora and fauna!

podcast logo small.png


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

8 out of 10.png


According to my phone I've walked 12.6 miles today which amounts to 27921 steps. It has been a murky and damp day today and my shoes are coated in sand from the various beaches. A pleasant walk nonetheless along a lovely stretch of the coast. Eight out of ten!

My Ordnance Survey app has worked for the first time this week but I'm not convinced that it's correct.

My other elevation chart is far from perfect but I suspect the gps chip is giving occasional false readings.


murky fistral beach

murky crantock beach

murky porth joke

murky holywell

murky perranporth

beach collection

porthcothan to newquay

south west coast path

sunday, 2nd september 2018

The weather forecast for the day hasn't looked very good for a few days now but suddenly overnight it has improved. It might not be very warm but it looks like I might escape rain.

Newquay high tide 10:02

Newquay low tide 16:26

weather forecast.jpg
tide times.jpg

I start the day back on the beach at Porthcothan. Unfortunately, it's going to be another day of walking along fine, sandy beaches!


I wander around the empty beach before heading back towards Portchcothan Bay Stores and take the path between houses and the low cliff edge.

I wander round the headland and admire the views out over the stacks that make up Trescore Islands.

trescore islands

I come across Porth Mear, a shingly and stoney beach in stark contrast to the usual golden, sandy beaches around here and it's full of rockpools waiting to be explored.

porth mear

At Porth Mear I cross a footbridge and then pass a series of crumbling headlands and coves.

At Pentire Steps I should drop down to the lovely, golden sandy beach but the tide is in so I don't think there will be any beach down there.

The tide is too far in for me to even consider walking along the beaches so I follow the path over the cliffs to Bedruthan Steps.

After a murky start the sun is starting to come out and the day is warming up.

bedruthan steps

There are an awful lot of steps down to the beach here and the tide is in so it's a long way down for very little beach. Instead, I continue along the cliffs admiring the rugged slate outcrops from above. First up is Diggory's Island, then Queen Bess Rock, Samaritan Island, Redcove Island, Pendarves Island and Carnewas Island. The stacks were put here by a giant called Bedruthan and used as stepping stones. Or they could have been formed by natural wave erosion!

I climb steps up the cliff where a National Trust information centre and cafe can be found.

Carnewas was a hive of industrial activity in the 19th century although not much is known of the mining that took place there. It is supposed that miners tunnelled into the cliffs from the beach in search of iron, copper and lead. Mining stopped many years ago, but the buildings are a reminder of this industry. The National Trust shop was once the count house or mine office and the café was also converted from mine buildings.

Carnewas at Bedruthan has been recognised as a Dark Skies Discovery Site and has gained a Milky Way Plus Events class, meaning that the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye. 

I head off around Trenance Point and then drop down to the beach at Mawgan Porth, which, once again, is golden and sandy. I walk along the beach before heading back towards the village and the road which takes me out of Mawgan Porth.

the view over mawgan porth

mawgan porth

Besides the beach here can be found the Merrymoor Inn (@Merrymoor), which once again has fantastic views for thirsty walkers.

merrymoor inn

leaving mawgan porth

The coast path continues around Berryl's Point and around Beacon Cove which you can get to but only by negotiating a rough, steep track. I continue around Griffin's Point where an Iron Age fort can be found.

I now have lovely views over Watergate Bay but I'm not spying much beach down there. The path gets closer and closer to the coast road before joining the B3276 briefly, next to the Watergate Bay Hotel (@WatergateBay). 

overlooking watergate bay

I pass the hotel and head on to the beach, which once again is a fine, golden sandy beach, two miles long at low tide. Unfortunately it's not low tide. The beach is heaving with people and there are a lot of surfers enjoying the surf.

I retrace my steps and head through the car park where I come across Jamie Oliver's Fifteen (@fifteencornwall) restaurant. 


I continue along the coast path over the cliffs. I pass Horse Rock, Sweden Rock and then Zacry's Island, where Watergate Beach at low tide leads directly onto Whipsiderry Beach, which gets its name from mining terms 'Whips' and 'Derrick'.

whipsiderry beach

I head around Trevelgue Head, site of an Iron Age promontory fort. A footbridge can take you out on to the head itself, if you so wish.

The coast path then swings back on itself to join the road leading down to Porth Beach, where I have to endure more of that pesky fine, golden sand. I head towards the Mermaid Inn and then head out across the beach.

porth beach

I'm now really in the suburbs of stinky Newquay and I head out of Porth Beach and back on to the tops of the cliffs. It is properly warm now which I wasn't expecting. I pass over Lusty Glaze Beach. It is a 200 feet drop down to the beach and so is quite a hike.

lusty glaze beach

The tide is in too far for me to walk across the beach to Tolcarne Beach so I continue on a grassy track which joins Cliff Road and heads all the way in to Newquay.

I'd normally head down to Tolcarne Beach by following an access road and so avoid much of Newquay. Unfortunately the tide is in too far for me to do that so I head instead across the top of the beach.

tolcarne beach

I head above Great Western Beach and then follow a tram track which takes me to Towan Beach. From here I follow a fiddly path which takes me through the far end of stinky Newquay and to the car park next to the Atlantic Hotel where my lift awaits.


Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-

  • red campion

  • roses

  • crocosmia

  • hemp agrimony

  • toadflax

  • a painted lady butterfly

  • dunnocks

  • knapweed

  • honeysuckle

  • stonechats

  • small copper butterflies

  • watermint

podcast logo small.png


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

8 out of 10.png


According to my phone I've walked 12.9 miles today which amounts to 28443 steps. Apart from the end at stinky Newquay it has been a lovely day's walking and surprisingly warm at times. Eight out of ten!

This elevation chart is far from perfect but I suspect the gps chip is giving occasional false readings.


bedruthan steps

mawgan porth

watergate bay

watergate bay

lusty glaze beach

beach collection