Walk - Cofton - Around Dawlish
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2022. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
Note: Part of this walk runs along the sea wall and so should not be attempted in stormy weather, as waves break over the wall, and there is the risk of being swept off. An alternative route is available using the inland route of the other side of the railway tracks.
- Leave Cofton Country Holidays and head towards the A379. Carefully cross the road at Cofton Cross and walk down the lane immediately opposite. At the end of the lane take the footpath between the farm on your right and the cottages on your left.Follow the footpath uphill.
Cofford Farm, Cofton and Cockwood all take their name (coch means a red stream) from the stream running out at Cockwood Harbour. Cofford Farm was a ford of the Coch stream. Cofton has had several names over the years according to ancient records - Coctone in 1282, Cofton in 1289, Cokton in 1333, Coffeton, and Caughton in 1715.
- At the brow of the hill, at a crossroads of paths, take the left hand path and pass 4 fields on your right. Then turn right and take the path towards Westlake Farm building. Meeting Mowlish Lane, turn right and head up to the main road. Turn left onto the Starcross to Mamhead road. This can be busy at certain times of the day so be careful on this part of the walk.
- Stay on the road for about 200 metres before taking the signed footpath on your left. Look for the signpost after the white road signpost pointing to Kenton. Follow the footpath along the edge of the field until you meet the road. Turn left and with first Brickhouse Wood and then Brickhouse Farm on your right follow this gently undulating road. Pass the turning on your right to Mamhead and Ashcombe. At the house on the corner take the right hand fork. Keep on past the thatched cottages of Gulliford Farm.
Gulliford Farm was named Colleford (the shallow crossing on the roaring river) in 1333 and Golyford in 1753 according to “The Place Names of Devon” written by Gover, Mawer and Stenton in 1932.
Ignore the road on your right. At the next fork in the road keep right and follow the road uphill. Nearing the summit turn left into a road signposted “Leading to Long Lane”.
- At the next corner by the house look for Long Lane on your left. Follow this road past some houses. The road slides left, the path (Long Lane) continues straight on through the trees.
Glorious views are available here out to the east and the Exe. After a pause to drink in the scene, walk between the tall hedgerow trees of Long Lane. Although mostly enclosed, this track offers periodic viewpoints over to the east, towards Starcross, parts of Lympstone and Topsham. To the left through the tress Langdon House was known as Langedun (meaning Long Hill) in 1244.
Long Lane continues until it meets up with Langdon Lane.
Continue along Badlake Hill down into the outskirts of Dawlish. Ignore all turnings to the left. After Cavendish Close the road branches to the left. Take the right hand road, Empson's Hill. Continue past the white buildoings until the road arrives at a t-junction. Turn left downhill along Aller Hill. Keep going past the large Ashcombe sign across the bridge.
- At the next corner you will see a bridge in front. Before you reach the bridge road sign turn left along a wide footpath. This footpath goes through Newhay, passing St Gregory's Church on your right.
The church of St Gregory the Great is worth a visit. In the churchyard is a large mausoleum dedicated to the Hoare family of Luscombe. Charles Hoare employed John Nash to build Luscombe Castle, about a mile due west of the church. In 1672 Charles gave his name to the private bankers C Hoare & Co now to be found in Fleet Street. Included amongst the inscriptions in the burial plot is Nora Lilian Augusta Awdry, related to Rev. W Awdry, of Thomas the Tank Engine fame. At the end of Newhay, turn left into Church Street. Continue down until you see Barton Crescent on your right. As you turn into Barton Crescent immediately turn left down Overbrook (the lane to the left of the Girl Guide HQ). This comes out over a brick bridge into Manor Gardens. Head downhill to the brook and turn right following the Brook into town towards the sea. Dawlish is a product of the Victorian era and the coming of the railway. Before then there was no sea wall. In 1823 the town was flooded.
The Brook crosses Barton Hill and continues besides The Lawn. Cross the A379 and head for the railway viaduct.
- Pass underneath the granite viaduct and then turn left onto the seawall. This is the South West Coast Path. The path runs parallel to the railway.
The railway, which opened in 1846, was the brainchild of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He designed and built it intending to reduce costs by using the sea front as a relatively easy, and a scenically attractive, route. As many as 2000 navies were involved in 1845-1846 in excavating tunnels, blasting cliffs, building the sea wall, and constructing the line. For its first two years it ran on the Atmospheric system. This was initially broad gauge and operated by an "atmospheric" (vacuum pipe) system without locomotives. Within a year this was changed to steam engines and, eventually, in 1892, to standard gauge. The Great Western Railway had taken over the line in 1876. Brunel's optimistic plan was that breakwaters would cause an accumulation of beach sand, and that the sea wall would not be touched by the sea except under severe gale conditions. However, the sea wall has long been under attack, particularly in the winter of 1872/1873, when there were major breaches. There has been, for many years, discussion about building a new line inland.
Follow the sea wall towards the red rock stacks, known as Langstone Rock.
Langstone Rock was originally known as Langstone Point and was a much larger headland joined to the mainland. Sea erosion and then Brunel's railway separated the rock from the mainland. At Langstone Rock stacks, a natural arch and a blow hole can be observed.
Continue along beside the railway until you reach Dawlish Warren.
From the sea wall looking east (or left – as you gaze out to sea) Dawlish Warren, the Exe Estuary and Exmouth can be seen. You can see the start of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site at Orcombe Point and, on a clear day, further beyond into Dorset. Dawlish Warren spit is 1½ miles long and provides sandy beaches, summer amusements, a golf course and a nature reserve. The latter is a National Nature Reserve (NNR) supporting over 2,000 species of invertebrates and 620 different plants, many of them rare species. Conservation grazing by ponies along the Warren keeps the site in good order for its abundant wildlife as well as human visitors. The beach at The Warren is presently holder of the European Blue Flag Award for water quality, safety, eco-management and education.
- After the Coast Path curves left, cross over the footbridge. Follow the Coast Path between the buildings and behind the car park. The Coast Path comes out on Beach Road. Turn left and immediately right onto Dawlish Warren Road. Follow the road past the shops on your left and the holiday camp on your right.
- After passing Shutterton Lane on your left look for the fenced path on your left (almost opposite the holiday camp entrance) into the grounds of Eastdon House. As the road curves to the right take the path through Eastdon Wood coming out on Orchard Lane.
- Turn left and then almost immediately right along the gated lane leading back into Cofton Country Holidays.
Cofton Country Holidays