Walk - Scabbacombe and Mill Bay
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2019. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From the car park take the lane heading roughly westwards and follow it to the road a few hundred yards beyond.
- Continuing in the same direction, bear left and stay with the lane as it turns into a path and curves around to travel south-westwards.
- Ignoring the paths leading away to the left, proceed to Higher Brownstone Farm.
- Bear left and then fork right, dropping down past Home Farm and then climbing the other side into the woodland and curving around the hillside towards the coast.
- When you come to the steps at the top of Warren Wood, turn left onto them and follow the South West Coast Path as it descends into the valley and around Mill Bay Cove.
Note the crenellated building in the cove, once the mill.
The path climbs another set of steps to the woodland at the top (a nature reserve), and then continues its plunging way around the coast to the Brownstone Battery above Inner Froward Point.
Take time to wander around the World War II buildings up here and read the displays in the information centre. Brownstone Battery was built in 1940 as a Close Defence Site, designed to stop enemy forces landing on nearby beaches at Slapton Sands or Blackpool Sands, and to destroy any beachhead the Germans might try and establish there. It was known that Hitler had formulated a plan, Operation Sealion, to invade Britain, and Brownstone Battery was an integral part of the defence against this land invasion. Dartmouth was seen as being particularly vulnerable to attack: as well as being an important port in its own right, it was frequently used by the navy and had a motor torpedo boat installation. It also had anti-submarine nets at the mouth of the estuary and a military boat repairing facility at Philips Shipyard at nearby Noss Creek.
- Take the brick steps leading downhill to the west of the lookout and follow the path around, through the various remnants of the Battery and around the coast. Stay with it as it zigzags back up, and turn right at the top to travel eastwards along the Coast Path as it continues to rise and fall above Old Mill Bay and Kelly's Cove to Pudcombe Cove.
Before you zigzag down to Pudcombe Cove there is a path leading to the left which will return you to the lane at the start of the walk, if you want a shortcut.
- At Pudcombe Cove a path leads inland through Coleton Fishacre estate; but for this walk carry on along the Coast Path as it climbs back up the far side of the cove and goes on its way around the coastline.
Coleton Fishacre was built in the 1920s by the D'Oyly Carte family (of opera fame) as a holiday home. The house was built in the Art Deco style of the Jazz Age, and visitors to the National Trust property are played excerpts from Gilbert and Sullivan to celebrate the family's connections with the operatic duo. The 30-acre garden lies in a moist and sheltered valley and is planted with many exotic species from the Mediterranean, South Africa and New Zealand, which thrive here.
The entrance to the estate is to the north of the property, at point 4 on the walk, and access to the gardens from the Coast Path is not normally permitted except to members of the Trust.
- After about a mile and a half, ignoring the path inland on the way, you will reach Scabbacombe Head and Downend Point. Just as Scabbacombe Sands come into view, ahead and far below, turn left onto the path leading inland and follow it back up to the start of the walk.
Coleton Camp, at the car park here, was also an important part of this defence strategy. It was operated by the Royal Air Force as part of its RDF (or radar) chain and was also built in 1940, to provide cover for Lyme Bay and Start Bay and for the Channel as a whole. Its exposed hilltop position gave it excellent 360-degree visibility.
In Brixham and Kingswear, or cross the river to Dartmouth