Walk - Sharkham and Man Sands

5.9 miles (9.4 km)

Scabbacombe Car Park - TQ6 0EF Scabbacombe Car Park

Challenging - Paths, tracks and quiet country lanes, with some steep ascent and descent.

A strenuous walk with some steep ascent and descent, this is nonetheless not to be missed, with a wealth of wildflowers, a tiny and remote sandy cove, and a fast-changing wetland nature reserve. There are shortcuts halfway round if you find it too energetic, but take advantage of all the spectacular views along the coast in both directions to catch your breath!

Checked by SWCPA Volunteer David Hinchcliffe - July 2019

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

South Bay Holiday Park

Set above the bustling town of Brixham, this lively holiday park has an action packed entertainment programme & childrens' adventure playground. Direct path to the delightful St Mary's Cove and the SW Coast Path. Range of chalets and caravans.

Waterfront House

We have been awarded gld in the best bed and breakfast in Devon and silver in the best bed and breakfast n the south west . Set in a breath taking spot on the harbour

Eight Bells B&B

Variety of breakfasts with a stunning view. On waterfront, a few minutes from the Coast Path. 1 double, 1 family room. Both ensuite. Sleeps 6 max.

Quarry Lake Camping

2 miles from SWCP, simple pitches on working sheep farm. Pub within 1 mile.

Fairholme B&B

Fairholme is a small and friendly B&B just off the coast path famed for its excellent breakfasts.

Leonards Cove Holiday Village

Leonards Cove is a picturesque holiday destination with a stunning clifftop location and amazing sea views offering self-catered, camping and touring accommodation.

Dittisham Hideaway

A Luxury Collection of Spacious Treehouses, Luxurious Shepherds Huts and a 1950's Vintage Airstream


Stay in our stunning sustainable Birdhouse cabins nestled above the idyllic Start Bay. Just a minutes walk from the coastal path & Blackpool Sands beach.

You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Ebb & Flow

An independently run cafe in Kingswear with a spectacular view! Serving breakfast from 8am and a range of homemade cakes and light lunches

Salcombe Dairy Shop & Café, Dartmouth

Our ice cream and bean to bar café is set in the beautiful coastal town of Dartmouth. It’s an irresistible spot for walkers in need of sustenance.

The Guardhouse Cafe

Home-made seasonal food, cream teas and delicious coffee, all served with a smile and stunning views from our cliff-top Napoleonic Fortress. Open all year.
What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Sea Kayak Devon

Experience Devon's stunning coastline by sea kayak. Let our guides take you on an unforgettable journey. Individuals, groups, families. No experience necessary.

Dartmouth Visitor Centre

Find out everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Dartmouth and the surrounding area uth

Discover Dartmouth at the Flavel Cafe

Lively arts cafe in centre of Dartmouth with information about things to, where to go and places to stay in the area. Or for more information on line please visit www.discoverdartmouth.com

Shoalstone Seawater Pool

Shoalstone Seawater Pool is a great place to swim and paddle, and picnic on the green looking across the Bay. Shoals Café serves breakfasts, lunches and evening meals.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the car park at Scabbacombe Lane, take the track heading south-eastwards towards the coast, following it around two fields and then forking right to drop diagonally down to the South West Coast Path at Scabbacombe Sands.

Fulmars have colonised the cliffs here. The fulmar is an ocean-going bird which returns to the shore to breed, and looks like a gull, but with a shorter, thicker neck.

  1. Turn left onto the Coast Path and follow it around above Long Sands to Crabrock Point.

Pause at Long Sands and take in the spectacular views along the coast. Note, too, the Staddon Shales and Meadfoot Slates of the cliffs below, which regularly slump onto the beach.

The cliffs are rich in wildflowers, including early purple orchid, greater stitchwort and oxeye daisy, as well as the tall, spiky heads of teasels.

  1. Take the shortcut across the headland here or walk around the point for wonderful views along the coastline in both directions, and then drop down to the peaceful sandy cove at Man Sands

Look out for the coastguard cottages here, built by Napoleonic prisoners of war, as well as the boathouse and the lime kiln, used to make lime for use as an agricultural fertiliser (see the Greenway and Galmpton Creek Walk).

In 1985, rising sea levels made it necessary to put up steel gabions to protect the farmland behind Man Sands. In 2004, however, the National Trust made the decision to remove these wire baskets of rocks and let the sea flow inland and re-establish the wetlands which had been drained in order to create the farmland. The resultant environment is one of the country's fastest-changing habitats as a result and a haven for ducks and waders.

It is a popular area for grass snakes, too, which swim with their heads above water but dive beneath the surface to catch their prey.

  1. Turning left on either of the paths heading inland here will return you to the car park if you turn left at the top and make your way southwards again. (The second path, along Mansands Lane, is about three-quarters of a mile further than the first, along Woodhuish Lane). From here, stay with the Coast Path as it climbs steeply up to Southdown Cliff and continues north and then east, to reach the headland at Sharkham Point.

Sharkham Point is part of the Berry Head to Sharkham Site of Special Scientific Interest, noted for its geology, consisting of hard vertical limestone cliffs and calcareous (chalky) grasslands, with a number of intertidal bat caves, although there is no public access to these. There are also various species of lichen, and a number of breeding birds, notably guillemots.

Sharkham was also the site of an important Iron Mine. The source of the iron was thought to be from the red beds of sandstone in the region, dating from the Permian period, probably via circulating hot fluids migrating along fractures. The process producing it is likely to be similar to that in South Wales, where iron minerals replace zones in limestones from the Lower Carboniferous period. Although the former opencast workings are mostly filled in, there are still good exposures remaining in the coastal slope.

  1. Keep going around the point until St Mary's Bay comes into view.

  2. At the kissing gate, turn left onto a tarmac path leaving the Coast Path and walk until you meet a road. Turn right along this narrow road (St Mary's Road). Be aware of any traffic.

  3. Pick up Yards Lane just beyond the second campsite road and follow it around fields to where another path joins it from the left.

  4. Bear right here, then left a moment later, carrying on along Yards Lane to Southdown Cross.

  5. Here turn left onto Southdown Road and bear left at the farm, to carry on in the same direction for a couple of hundred yards to the fork.

  6. Bear right here onto Mill Lane and travel downhill with it till you come to the footpath leading left, at the bridge.

  7. Take the footpath and then go straight ahead at Woodhuish Lane for a shortcut back to the car park, but otherwise, carry on down Mill Lane to where it doubles back sharply on itself and another path joins from the right.

  8. Turn sharp left here, staying with the lane until it joins Woodhuish Lane a short distance beyond.

  9. Turn right onto Woodhuish Lane and return to the car park.

Public transport

There are regular buses between Brixham and Kingswear, stopping at Hillhead, a pleasant walk of about half a mile down Penhill Lane to point no. 12 on the walk. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.


Car parks at Scabbacombe, Woodhuish and Sharkham Point.


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