Walk - Greenway, Broadsands & Galmpton Creek

Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2020. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.

Route Description

  1. Turn right out of Broadsands Beach car park main entrance onto Broadsands Road and start uphill. 

  2. Go under the railway viaduct, and just past a post box turn left onto a public footpath.

Engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Paignton to Kingswear railway line opened to traffic in 1864 under South Devon Railway management. At this time, there was a branch line to Brixham from Churston station, (this closed in 1963). When the Paignton to Kingswear line was threatened with closure by British Railways, the Dart Valley Railway acquired the section and started train services in 1973. It has run as a preserved line since powered by both steam and heritage diesel locomotives.

  1. Follow the footpath uphill through the woods to emerge close to the A3022. Travel a few yards to your right.
  2. Cross the A3022 and pick up the path (under a metal gateway) then continue to the A379. Cross the busy A379 then go over the common between a copse on your left and a windmill without sails to your right, over the football pitch, heading towards the typical Devon long house until you come to Slade Lane. Stay on Slade Lane until its end.

Galmpton Windmill was built in 1810 to grind corn. At 35 feet tall, this four storey tower mill was built of local limestone rubble, with red-brick window arches and a curiously low retaining wall. It never survived a devastating fire and this derelict Grade ll listed building is now situated in the garden of a residential property.

  1. Turn right onto Stoke Gabriel Road and continue straight on, past the post office and Flavel Chapel until you come to Kiln Road.
  2. Turn left into Kiln Road and follow this road (past the kiln that gives the road its name) down to Dartside Quay where you take the lane to the left, uphill, around the quay and past the boat yard. Where the lane ends, bear left onto the unmettled path uphill and at the junction (where the tarmac lane recommences) continue straight ahead downhill then down the steps to Galmpton Creek following the path over the beach to the lime kiln. (Not passable at high tide).

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 WWII. It is still a bustling marine repair centre, but its use nowadays is mostly for pleasure craft. 

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.

  1. By the lime kiln the path turns left, inland over a wooden stile and travels up through two fields passing from one field to another by a fingerpost through a wooden gate, then over a stone and metal bar stile before passing between the farm buildings and onto the farm track beyond. 

Note the chimney from the farm's one-time steam machinery. 

Crossing the farm track, pick up the footpath on the other side, over a stone stile. Climb up the field to another stone stile to reach a tarmac lane. Crossing the lane, pass through a wooden kissing gate, pick up the footpath and move into the woods which form part of the National Trust Greenway Estate. Initially keep to the right path in the woods uphill then where the path forks, keep straight on uphill signposted "Greenway Walk".

  1. On exiting the woods bear right and follow the path along the bottom of a field until you come to a three way fingerpost.

Beautiful views can be seen here over the River Dart and Dittisham beyond.

Here you can either head right; downhill to Greenway house and ferry (then retrace your steps to here), or left over the field looping back towards Broadsands, signposted to Maypool/Kingswear. Taking the latter option, and after going through a 5 bar wooden gate and then a metal kissing gate.

A stunning view down the river Dart to Dartmouth and Kingswear is seen from this field.

Greenway has a rich history with many seafaring connections, as you might expect from its waterside location. At the time of its first mention, in 1493, 'Greynway' was an important crossing point of the Dart, as it still is today. The first Greenway house was a Tudor mansion, built here in the late sixteenth century for Otho and Katherine Gilbert. Their son, Sir Humphrey, was a favourite with Elizabeth I, as was his stepbrother, Sir Walter Raleigh, and in searching for the North West Passage Gilbert stumbled across Newfoundland and took it for the queen. In the eighteenth century, another house was built at Greenway (the central block of the current building), and its owner, Roope Harris Roope, developed trading links with the New World, thought to be the import of plants and seeds. 

Subsequent owners of the house devoted much time and money to the gardens, creating, by the middle of the nineteenth century, 'a park of much natural beauty,' giving 'the appearance of enchantment rather than reality.' It is hardly surprising, then, that when the railway arrived, the incumbent of the time – a Cornish copper magnate – fiercely resisted the proposal to run the line over Greenway to carry passengers to the Dart. A compromise was reached, and the Paignton-Dartmouth Steam Railway still runs through the tunnel that was constructed beneath Greenway. 

In 1938, a certain Mr and Mrs Mallowan bought the house as a holiday home. Both were keen gardeners and passionate about Greenway's horticultural abundance. Mr Mallowan was an noteworthy archaeologist, and his wife was none other than crime writer Agatha Christie. Greenway was the setting for her book 'Dead Man's Folly', even down to the boathouse where Marlene Tucker's body was found.

Turn left and head along the top of a field passing through another wooden gate which marks the end of the National Trust Greenway Estate. 

  1. Continue on this unadopted lane, with large residential properties on the right and hedgerows on the left, which becomes a tarmac lane. Turn right at the road junction signposted to Greenway Barton.
  2. Just along this lane, opposite a cluster of barn conversations, turn left through a gate and then onto the public bridleway signposted to Churston Ferrers and Brixham. Keep left and follow this path through a field, over a stile and onto a sunken lane. 

Here you are walking on the John Musgrave Heritage Trail, a 35 mile meandering path set up in memory of the Chairman of the local branch of the Ramblers Association. A viewing point on the left here gives two spectacular uninterrupted views. Looking left over the river Dart towards Stoke Gabriel and to the right over the coast to Torquay.

Continue along the sunken lane bearing right at a fork then shortly after, before the path bends uphill to the right climb over the wooden stile on the left into a field. Head right along the path through fields until you come to another wooden stile and the A379. Carefully cross the busy A379, downhill to pick up the Alston Lane on the right a few yards down the road. In effect a staggered junction. Follow Alston Lane gradually descending to where the lane becomes tarmac once more, where you bear right until you reach the A3022.

  1. Cross the A3022 onto Churston Road opposite. Stay straight ahead after passing under the railway bridge, (formerly the Brixham branch line). After the Churston Tennis Club, turn left into Church Road towards Churston Manor Hotel.

Church Road used to be known as the Lych Way, or the way of the dead and was the route used to carry coffins from Brixham to the church for burial.

Churston Manor is a twelfth century manor house and is a listed building. In the sixteenth century a frequent visitor to the manor was Sir Walter Raleigh, accompanied by his half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert who at that time lived at Greenway. A notorious twentieth century visitor was Bruce Reynolds, who hid here after the Great Train Robbery and managed to evade capture despite the police following him there. The kitchen is said to be haunted by the ghost of a monk.

Follow the road past the church.

Agatha Christie regularly attended services at the church of St Mary the Virgin when she was holidaying in the area. In 1955, she donated the royalties from her short story Greenshaw's Folly to the church. The gift paid for the east-facing stained-glass window depicting Jesus as the Good Shepherd in Agatha's favourite mauve and greens. The window was designed by Bideford artist James Patterson.

  1. At the end of this lane continue onto Links Close, then keep straight ahead onto a footpath which leads over the golf course.

Churston Golf Club was established in 1890. The 18 hole course benefits from good drainage as a result of the shillet and shale beneath the surface, meaning that the greens are in good condition throughout the year. For your own safety, please stay on the way waymarked path and watch out for flying golf balls. The Agatha Christie crime novel "Murder on the Links" was inspired by one of her visits to this course.

Once across the golf course follow the path into the woods down a gentle incline, keeping to the left and then turn right onto a sunken lane. After a metal stile, take a right where the path splits, then above Elberry Cove follow the South West Coast Path to the left around the pitch and put golf to Churston Point and continue back to Broadsands Beach car park via the promenade.

Nearby refreshments

Broadsand Beach cafes, Galmpton village convenience stores and tea rooms at Greenway (inside National Trust property).

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