Out and About
Within walking distance or a 5 minute drive from the Park is Bolberry Downs … 100 acres of open cliff-top land, where the South West Coast Path winds its way along the most beautiful, wild and dramatic coastline. With wide open skies, on clear nights, this is a perfect place for stargazing!
There is a variety of paths to discover, most with breath-taking views. Wonderful walking for all ages
and abilities due to the flat terrain … a dog walking paradise with plenty of parking (inc. disabled) and some paths are buggy and wheelchair friendly. A fabulous place to fly a kite! You’ll love it!
Soar Mill Cove
To the east of Bolberry Down, following along the South West Coast Path, why not take the time to discover one of England’s wildest coves, as listed in “ The Wild Guide “ by Wild Things Publishing (mentioned in the Guardian ) and “ Hidden Beaches and Wild Swimming “ by Daniel Smart or in the “ Wanderlust Travel Magazine’s 7 Secret Beaches “. A 35 minute walk straight from the Park or drive closer to the Soar Mill Cove Hotel and walk down to the cove. For the more energetic, there is a stunning circular walk along the cliff top path, (having parked on Bolberry Down ) then downhill to the hidden cove. The spectacular scenery on the way is certainly wild and craggy and you’ve even got some caves to explore when you get down there…..only at low tide though!
A short drive down through the valley is this delightful old fishing village with its picturesque square of quaint thatched cottages. The village is divided in two parts, Inner and Outer Hope. With its safe sandy beaches ( one is dog friendly ) …. families can relax……boating and fishing, kayaking and paddle-boarding are all very popular. The availability of launching boats also makes it ideal for diving enthusiasts who love to explore the numerous wrecks scattered along this coastline.
There is one pub ‘The Hope and Anchor‘ and an award winning cafe bar/bistro, ’The Cove’, the latter has various folk artists playing regularly! There is a small village store and post office and a few family run hotels all of which are open all day for coffees, light lunches, cream teas and evening meals…with many having amazing views out over the bay to view the incredible sunsets!
Thurlestone South Milton Sands (A National Trust Beach.)
A 15 minute drive to a long sandy beach which is dog friendly. It has great rock pools at low tide… and is very popular now for windsurfing. Plenty of parking and a very well reviewed beach café called ‘The Beachhouse’, serving great seafood and has become known as a laidback foodie destination. Booking is essential.
There are two more beaches which are a little quieter, nearer the golf club, which itself has an extremely picturesque Links 18 hole golf course and tennis club. Thurlestone Village has a shop and post office and an excellent pub called ‘The Village Inn.’
The position of Bantham Beach is particularly stunning as at low tide there is a lovely wide open stretch of sandy beach backed up with sand dunes and an open grassy area…… behind which the gentle river Avon winds its way to the open sea. The beach here is only partially dog friendly in the summer. There is plenty of parking and areas for picnics, other than on the beach. It is the world- class surfing beach on the south coast of Devon and great for bodyboarding and family fun!!! There is always a warm, friendly welcome at ‘ The Sloop Inn‘, while nearer to the beach the ‘Gastrobus’ provides a mobile beach bistro/takeaway .
There are stunning walks up both the sides of the River Avon from Bantham Village! If you get your tides and timing right you can do a circular walk from Bantham, taking the small ferryboat across the river (runs end April – Sept) then walk upstream to the Oyster Shack for a fab lunch, (not just oysters) then on to Aveton Gifford, crossing the river there and back down the far side. It’s all beautiful!
Bigbury On Sea And Burgh Island
Bigbury on Sea is also situated in a very picturesque setting, situated opposite Bantham, at the mouth of the Avon river. Again, with lovely sandy beaches at low tide, it is well known for its surfing, body boarding and kite surfing. Here, half the beach is dog friendly and half is not! There is a surf school, a café and a beach shop.
Burgh Island is a small tidal island, just off the coast, immediately opposite Bigbury which one can access, on foot at low tide and by a “sea tractor” when the tide is high. It is renowned for its striking ‘Art Deco Hotel’ used as a famous retreat for “Agatha Christie” who fondly referred to it as her “White Palace“. Many of the Inspector Poirot series she wrote were actually filmed there. It also has a very small, old pub called the ‘The Pilchard Inn’ which serves good ale and pasties.
100 years ago there was a bustling fishing community here. Now, Beesands, nestled in the lieu of Start Point and it’s working lighthouse… on the shores of Start Bay, still has a few boats supplying freshly caught fish to another well reviewed beachside fish shack and shop, called Britannia@ the Beach. It serves fantastically fresh local seafood amongst other things and is open all day. Its definitely worth a visit!