Walk - An Evening Stroll from Cofton
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2021. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- Coming out of Reception turn left and walk through Cofton Country Holidays park until you reach Orchard Lane.
- At Orchard Lane turn left and then almost immediately turn right taking the path through Eastdon Wood before coming out in the grounds of Eastdon House.
The Dawlish Local History group have found Victorian and modern glassware as well as ceramic fragments of medieval, post-medieval and modern pottery during fieldwalks in this area. The pottery included Westerwald ware (grey stoneware from Germany), Totnes ware (unglazed earthenware produced around Totnes between the 13th and 18th centuries and Saintonge ware (medieval pottery from the French Atlantic coast). Eastdon House is a Grade 2 listed building built in the late eighteenth century enjoying views over the Exe Estuary, Dawlish Warren and Exmouth. “A small mansion in its own grounds according to Pevsner’s “The Buildings of England”. Eastdon House is a privately owned house which has been converted into five individual luxury holiday apartments fitted out to very high standards run by Cofton Country Holidays. Eastdon covers fifty acres of landscaped gardens and mature Devonshire woodland.
- Keep straight ahead towards the Dawlish Warren road. At the road turn left and follow the Exe Estuary Trail to Cockwood.
Devon County Council is currently completing its construction of a new cycle/walkway; known as the Exe Estuary Trail. It will be part of the National Cycle Network (Route 2). When completed, the 26 mile trail will run along the east and west sides of the Estuary from Exmouth into Exeter crossing the Exe and travelling down to Dawlish. This is giving access to never before seen views. A lot of the route is now open with the rest soon to be completed.
The mud and sand of the Exe Estuary's riverbed, swept here from the source of the Exe high up on Exmoor, are rich in nutrients for invertebrates such as cockles and lugworms, which in turn provide a valuable food source for birds. The estuary is a traditional stop-off point for migratory birds, including Brent geese travelling from as far away as Siberia. In the middle of winter there may be as many as 25,000 birds in the middle of the river, thousands of them having flown from Northern Europe to join the native wildfowl and waders roosting and feeding in this internationally important habitat. Birds to be seen in large numbers include the avocet, with its long spindly legs and its upward-curving black beak. It was once rare but is increasing in number and is now seen in its hundreds on the Exe Estuary. Other species regularly spotted include godwits, dunlins, blacktailed wigeons, long-legged curlews with their down-turned beaks and black-and-white lapwings with twitching legs designed to disturb the invertebrates in the soil.
The village of Eastdon was known as Est Doune (Middle English for a hill) and then as Estdown in 1529.
- Follow the road past the Anchor Inn and the Harbour before turning left along Church Road.
Cockwood is a charming olde-worlde waterfront community, separated from the River Exe estuary by the South Devon Riviera Line. The village with some 17th century character cottages is built up and around a small tidal harbour (known as Cockwood Sod). The Sod, being tidal, is fed from the Exe under two historic railway arches, built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. More character housing is located further back along the road which eventually comes out in Cofton.
The Anchor Inn is over 450 years old and was originally opened as a Seamen's Mission. It was a haven for seamen and smugglers and is said to be haunted by a friendly ghost and his dog. The first Village Hall was built in 1894 for the sum of £279 and sited next to the Anchor Inn. When Cockwood Chapel, a Plymouth Brethren Meeting House, became available, the brewery bought the old village hall and Cockwood Chapel became Cofton Parish Hall.
Follow Church Road back to Cofton.
The Ship is a family run pub, with pleasant views over the village green from the bar, and a magnificent view of the Exe estuary from their large garden. As you pass the Ship Inn look to the right across the marsh. Below the left hand modern house can be seen what looks like a ruined castle gate house. These are in fact Grade II listed lime kilns. The limekiln shows exposed stonework with no rendering.
As you continue along Church Road the two roads on your left contain first the settlement of Middlewood and then Westwood. Each has a narrow road climbing uphill with a mixture of character housing. The older buildings were often built using local rubble soten and cob and then given a protective coating of render and limewash. At each road's end a track continues, joining together and leading up to the summit of Cofton Hill.
St Mary’s Church is on the left just before arriving back at Cofton Country Holidays.
A tablet on the outside of St Mary’s Church beneath the west window states that the chapel was founded in the 14th century. Having lain in a ruinous state for over 70 years, The Earl of Devon restored the church and reopened it in 1839. St Mary's Church is part of the Holiday Coast Mission Community along with churches in Dawlish, Starcross and Holcombe.
Cofton Country Holidays