3 South Devon coastal walks with stunning views
We may be biased but we think South Devon, particularly the English Riviera and South Hams, has some of the most stunning walks along the 630 miles of the South West Coast Path. Here are just three of our favourite South Devon coastal walks that you must try when you stay in Dartmouth and the surrounding area.
Little Dartmouth to Dartmouth Castle coast walk
This is a moderate circular walk that gives you excellent views of the cliffs around the mouth of the River Dart and along the coast to Start Point.
Start at Little Dartmouth National Trust car park (TQ6 0JP). Take the footpath at the bottom of the car park and you will immediately see the sea.
The route is well signposted, with several options to get a closer look at the rocky coves if you want to devour off the main path.
Keep an eye out for seals in the water below. There are a few fields where sheep and cattle graze. You must keep your dog on a lead here.
Before you reach Dartmouth Castle you join a road that you can follow all the way into Dartmouth. After a few hundred meters there’s a set of steps to the right that takes you down to the Castle and the Castle Tea Rooms.
Or you can climb Gallants Bower by taking a footpath through the woods on your left. This takes you up to the ruins of a 17th Century fort where there’s panoramic views of Dartmouth and the river mouth.
Return to Little Dartmouth car park by the same route. Or there’s a more direct path through the five bar gate at the far end of the first field.
Here’s more easy days out from Dartmouth.
Gara Rock to Salcombe on the South West Coast Path
This is a gorgeous walk with the added attraction of ferry ride to reach Salcombe. Wear good shoes as the path can be rough and steep in places.
Park at Gara Rock (TQ8 8FA) and join the South West Coast Path behind the thatched former coastguard look out. Take the path signposted Mill Bay.
You will walk just over a mile past Portlemouth Down and Rickham Common from where you’ll have excellent views of Salcombe South and North Sands. Look out for the South Sands Ferry and sea tractor between April and November.
Continue down through the woods until you reach Mill Bay. This is a sandy cove on the Salcombe/Kingsbridge Estuary. There is a National Trust car park here with toilets. There’s also a small snack bar serving drinks and ice creams. You can take your dog on the beach on a lead.
Continue your walk along the road until you reach The Venus Cafe at East Portlemouth. Here take the path down to the ferry landing. The ferry runs regularly across to Fore Street in the heart of Salcombe town. For a taste of Salcombe treat yourself to a Salcombe ice cream or even a gin!
Return to Gara Rock by the same route. Or for a slightly shorter walk head to the back of the Mill Bay National Trust car park. You can pick up the inland valley path back to Gara Rock from there.
Berry Head walk around the forts
For an easy and accessible walk Berry Head is one you can do without compromising on views. There’s even plenty of history thrown in for good measure.
The two forts here were built during the Napoleonic War and came into service again during the Second World War. Today you can walk around both forts for free.
From Dartmouth, take the Higher Ferry across the River Dart. Park at Berry Head car park (TQ5 9AP). Be aware that this is a pay on exit car park with vehicle registration cameras in operation.
At the far end of the car park, pass through the gate beside the cattle grid and you’ll be on a road that takes you Fort 2. This is where you’ll find the Guardhouse Cafe and lighthouse. From here you can see right across Torbay to the red cliffs of Babbacombe and beyond. On a clear day it’s possible to see as far up the coast as Dorset.
If you take the footpath to the right as you exit the car park you will head to Fort 1. This gives you views towards St Mary’s Bay and Sharkham Point. Exit the fort and take the footpath straight ahead to reach fort 2 and loop back to the car park.
You can extend this walk along the coast path all the way to Brixham.
All of these South Devon coastal walks are easily accessible from our Dartmouth and Kingswear holiday cottages. If you would like to find the perfect base for exploring the South West Coast Path in Devon then get in touch.