|Distance : 9 miles||Grading : ++++||OS Sheet : 192|
The popular resort of Sidmouth is the starting point for this walk. Sidmouth has a good beach, some spectacular cliffs and hosts a popular Folk Festival each year. This walk climbs the steep cliffs to the East of Sidmouth. There are some steep climbs along this part, but the views are worth it. Soon you pass through the pretty village of Branscombe with a good shingle beach and pretty thatched cottages before rounding the white chalky cliffs at Beer Head and into the village of Beer. Two paths can be taken to reach Beer, a high path over the cliffs, or a lower path, which takes you through the edge of a caravan site, but offers good views of the interesting cliffs in the area. Beer is a pretty village with white cliffs, unusual for the South Devon coast.
Sidmouth is on the A375 which joins the main A30 route through East Devon at Honiton. The A3052 goes to Sidmouth and is just off junction 30 of the M5 at Exeter, and also goes along the coast east of Sidmouth. There are plenty of parking spaces in Sidmouth near to the coast path.
Getting to Sidmouth by public transport is easy. Bus service 52 runs every 30 minutes from Exeter Bus station to Sidmouth and takes about 50 minutes. It runs hourly on Sundays. Other buses operate from Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton and Hontion (and Honiton Station) to Sidmouth. For more information, see the links below.
There is a good range of accommodation in Sidmouth, and there is a tourist information centre, which will be able to help you find accommodation. In Branscombe there is a limited range of accommodation, but the link below provides information. In Beer and nearby Seaton there is a fairly good range of accommodation. For more information, see the links below.
This walk starts on the sea front at Sidmouth. Sidmouth is a pleasant town, with well kept buildings all along the sea front, and a good sand and shingle beach (sandy at low tide). At either end of the sea front, are the spectacular red cliffs. The path starts on the promenade, which continues on the flat to the small harbour at the end of the sea front. The steps to the coast path start just across the river Sid. The beach here has suffered from a lot of rock falls, so has unfortunately now been closed because of this.
The path begins to climb quite quickly out of Sidmouth, passing through the edge of a field. The path up here can get be very slippery in wet weather, however it had been resurfaced last time I walked this part of the path, so should be better now. As the path climbs higher you get excellent views over the town, and back towards Budleigh Salterton and Sandy Bay (near Exmouth). Once up Salcombe Hill, the views are excellent, with the massive white and red Dunscombe Cliff beyond. The path drops steeply from here to Salcombe Mouth. There is a path down to the shingle beach here.
Beyond Salcombe Mouth the coast path climbs steeply up Dunscombe Cliff. Again, the views from here are excellent but enjoy them whilst you can, as the path again drops down to sea level at Weston Mouth. Again, it is possible to get down onto the beach here. There is a very steep climb up from here, but after that the path becomes slightly more level and continues at a high level towards Branscombe where it drops down steeply into the village.
Branscombe is a pretty village and is a good place to stop for a while. There are pretty thatched cottages here, and a small cafe, as well as toilets. The beach is shingle, as are the others along this section of the coast, but is kept clean, so is a good place to cool off your feet.
Between Branscombe and Beer head, you have a choice of paths. One goes over the top of the cliffs, giving good views round the coast. The other path goes at a lower level, through the edge of a caravan site. This path gives good views of the surrounding cliffs and Beer head ahead. The choice is yours! Both paths meet as you round Beer head. Beer head gives good views round the coast, but it's exposed position meant that it was very windy when I was there. After Beer head, it is a fairly easy walk into Beer.
Beer is a very pretty place, with the small shingle beach, surrounded by white cliffs, and the fisherman's boats on the beach. There are a couple of pubs and cafes in the village to get refreshment. If you are returning by Bus, they depart from Beer Cross, a little distance in land.
Bus service X53 runs from Beer to to Sidford and Exeter. Bus service 52 runs frequently from Sidford to Sidmouth and onto Exeter. Note that service X53 is not very frequent, so do check the timetable first. Axe Valley Mini Travel service 899 runs (again infrequently), from Beer to Branscombe and Sidmouth. If these services are too infrequent, there is an hourly service from nearby Seaton (approx another 40 minutes to walk), to Axminster, which has trains to Honiton and Exeter from where there are buses to Sidmouth. It's a bit of a long way round though!
Here are some photos of the walk. Click a picture for a larger version and description.
Ordnance Survey Landranger map 192 covers this area of the coast path and is available from most book shops nationwide. It is also stocked at the tourist information centre in Sidmouth.
Streetmap is a web site which provides maps of the UK, including around Sidmouth, Beer and Seaton. The links below will be of most use to the coast path from Sidmouth to Beer. These maps join to provide the complete coast path between the two points.