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South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe Walk

South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe Walk

South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe Walk

Even though the South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe walk is well known, I have to admit that this is one I had not done for quite a few years. Many locals are very familiar with it, but if you’ve not tried it before and are not sure what to expect, then read on.

It’s a stunning part of the coast to walk in East Devon and can be managed in about an hour each way.  You need to be reasonably fit for this one as there is a step route down hill to Branscombe, and unless you leave a car at each end there is the inevitable walk back up! Try it whatever the weather – this part of the coast never fails to impress even on a dreary day.

South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe Walk Hooken Undercliff view

A VIEW ACROSS HOOKEN UMDERCLIFF TOWARDS BRANSCOMBE

South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe NT sign

Starting Your Walk

So how fit are you feeling, that is the question, as this walk has a number of options. Our little group started at Beer Head car park (near the caravan park). If you are being energetic then you could start the walk in the village of Beer itself and hike up the hill up past the Anchor Inn.

South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe bee

The other option is to start in Seaton and follow my route from Seaton Hole to Beer first.

However with only 3 hours to spare we took the shortest option!  Here the coast path starts directly below Beer Head car park (which is pay and display) and really is a very easy to navigate, well worn path. Check fields for cattle if you have a dog and remember to stop and admire the views – there are plenty of rest stops! We missed the glorious sunshine on our walk that we’ve been having recently which means my photos are a bit grey – to be honest though as there is no shade on this walk we were grateful of the cloud.

South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe Walk Old Coast Guard Lookout

The path goes right along the top of the cliff – did I mention the views!

After about 20 minutes there is an option to go down over Hooken Cliffs a whole section of chalk that broke away making a mysterious alternative route. There are quite steep steps down,  so we choose to do it on the way back instead. Soon you go past the Old Coast Guard Station (used in WW11 as a radio station).

Now here’s an option for a shorter walk – turn inland at this point and follow the footpath signs away from the sea, though farmland and down a track back to Beer.

But please keep going! Before you know it Branscombe Beach comes into view. It’s about 2 miles and takes an hour at a reasonably relaxed pace. There are some steep steps on this last leg down.

South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe Walk

“Take a picnic or treat yourself to a cream tea half way round”

 

Once you have reached bottom you can head for the beach, enjoy a drink at the Sea Shanty or extend your walk into Branscombe Village. There’s plenty to choose from – 2 pubs both with good reputations or the National Trust  ‘Old Bakery Tea Rooms.  There is a also a NT car park in the village if you want to start your walk here.

South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe Walk boat on beach
South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe Walk Sea Shanty view

Views from Branscombe Beach

The views are wonderful and on a clear day stretch for miles around the coast – they are worth the effort of the hills. We are pleased that the cows were very relaxed about us walking through their field!

South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe beach
South West Coast Path Walk Beer to Branscombe Hooken Undercliff route path

Heading back we took the alternative route through the Sea Shanty Caravan Park and followed the signs leading to the Hooken Undercliff. This is a wonderful route through a wilderness, created when the cliffs split apart (or something more technical sounding than that)! The path is narrow in places and there are some steep steps which take you back up to the main cliff top path – this was a fabulous route and worth the effort.

South West Coast Path Beer to Branscombe Hooken Undercliff path

If you are not sure if your legs will manage the return walk you can also get the bus back from Branscombe. The 899 runs Monday to Saturday from the village hall (where there’s a play park for the kids to use while you’re waiting).

So there you have it – another great walk in East Devon.

If you are interested in history there is all sorts you can learn about to help keep you or children interested. Beer was very famous for smuggling and you can read about Jack Rattenbury and his antics and how they used Beer Caves.  The village was also important for lace making and apparently most Honiton Lace was actually made in Beer.

The Hooken Undercliff  is a great place to learn about the geology of the Jurassic Coast and it does feel a bit like a lost world – you can almost imagine pterodactyls flying overhead. There is an old lime kiln (somewhere) and on top of the cliffs the Coast Guard Lookout was significant during the war.  So whatever your interests be sure to learn more  – every day’s a school day!

Beer Head Time Trails AONB

I found this useful Time Trail history guide leaflet from East Devon ANOB (click on the image to the left) and a helpful map from the Walk this Way collaboration.

You can also use the excellent Ordnance Survey Maps. The Explorer map 116 covers Burton Bradstock to Branscombe (it annoyingly finishes 300 metres short of Branscombe. Map 115 covers the coast path from Branscombe to Exmouth.  Luckily you can now download all the OS maps you need with a really good app  – take a look at it here or click on the link below.

DIRECTIONS

Park at Beer Head (Postcode for Sat Navs: EX12 3AQ). This is a Pay and Display carpark and at the time of writing cost £1 per hour or £4 all day to park.  We took exactly 3 hours which gave us plenty of time for coffee in Branscombe and was a gentle pace.

 

FLIP FLOPS OR WELLIES ?

Well worn paths and routes through fields so sturdy footwear is advisable. There are kissing gates and steps on this walk as well. The route from Beer Head car park to the Sea Shanty is just under 2 miles but can easily be extended by starting in Beer or taking the time to explore Branscombe.

Potty Adventures

Finally thank you to Lisa from Lyme Bay Ladies who arranged this walk and to the new friends and I made doing it.

Inspired to do More Walks?

For more walks and directions take a look at the archive of walks on my blog and more of the South West Coast Path.

* This post contains an affiliate link to the Ordnance Survey which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase via the link.

About The Author

mm

Whether you are on holiday, recently moved to the region or like me live here and realise that there are great places a just few miles away that seem to have passed you by, then I hope you enjoy reading this.

14 Comments

  1. Helen

    Thanks for writing about my favourite walk Clare. Your blogs are full of tips for people visiting the beautiful part of the world we’re lucky to live in!

    Reply
    • mm

      Thank you Helen, it is a great walk and one I must try to do more often,

      Reply
  2. Natalie Williams

    I love finding new places in Devon to visit. I’m going to make an effort this summer to visit more local towns and beaches right on my doorstep. Looks like a lovely walk.

    Reply
    • mm

      I feel the same, there are so many fabulous places to explore, no excuses this summer!

      Reply
  3. HanNah

    Love the pictures – look at those views!!

    Reply
  4. Lauren

    Some beautiful photos there. It’s lovely to hear some of the history of the walk too. Really adds to the experience.

    #adventurecalling

    Reply
  5. Sarah Irving | The urban wanderer

    I haven’t been to Devon since I was a child, so it is lovely to fall upon your blog in the #adventurecalling linky, Clare. And this walk looks perfect for the kind of coastline ones that we enjoy. I will definitely have to consider Devon (and this walk in particular) for one of our next further afield camping trips. Thank you and I’m glad I came across your blog too 🙂

    Reply
    • mm

      Well you should certainly make plans for a visit – I live a such a beautiful area and know of a very good caravan park as well (just ask The Helpful Hiker)!

      Reply
  6. Lucy Lincoln

    Thanks for such a detailed blog post on your latest walk! Really loved the additional historical information as well – great for telling friends, family and especially the kids. Did you spot the 13.5kg anchor en route? It’s a lot more recent than your other interesting facts, but I think it was grounded there back around 2007!

    Reply
    • mm

      I missed the anchor! Oh well, I’ll just have to go back again. Thank you for your great comments.

      Reply
  7. Lauren-The Helpful Hiker

    That looks like a fab walk and I love how there are variations depending on how far you want to go. The views are stunning, so much amazing scenery in your neck of the woods. Walking with a group is always so much more fun. Thanks for sharing your walk with us #AdventureCalling

    Reply
  8. Travelling With Our Kids

    Looks like a great walk! If we are ever down that way we will try it out #adventurecalling

    Reply
  9. Emma | Devon Mum

    This looks like a lovely walk. My little girl is getting to an age where we can walk more now so I will definitely be checking out some coastal paths near me soon #adventurecalling

    Reply
  10. David - potty adventures

    What a beautiful section of coast. It’s a good few years since we’ve been down to Devon and I’d really like to get down there sometime soon. If we do we’ll certainly look into this walk. I love the history about the beer caves too. Thanks for joining us on #adventurecalling I hope you can again tomorrow.

    Reply

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About Clare

Clare Flipflops or WelliesHi! I am Clare and I live in glorious East Devon with my family. I love finding new places to explore in the West Country as well as further afield. I hope you enjoy reading and taking inspiration from my blog.

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