Walk - Duckpool & Woodford

5.1 miles (8.2 km)

Duckpool beach car park - EX23 9JN Duckpool car park

Moderate - Coastal path with some stretches of steep gradient, inland paths and tracks through fields and woodlands, with streams to cross.

While the balls and bowls of GCHQ's radio station lend this area an air of science fiction, still the landscape feels wild and remote as the Coast Path follows high cliffs above the rocky debris strewn along the sandy shoreline by millions of years of Atlantic surf. Duckpool is noted for its wildlife, especially moths, butterflies and glowworms, while its cliffs are of geological importance (and an SSSI) for the traces of prehistoric wildlife displayed in the fossils in their dramatically-folded rock-faces. The small romantic beach at Duckpool is a little-known gem, although most of it disappears at high tide. The currents are dangerous at all states of the tide, so it is not suitable for swimming.

If you are starting the walk at Sandymouth, first take the Coast Path northwards over the hill to Duckpool.

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.

Pencarrol Guest House, Bude

Family run guest house in lovely Victorian building. En-suite facilities. Ideally located for the South West Coast Path.

Wyvern Guest House,Bude

Only a few hundred metres from Crooklets beach and the beautiful rugged Cornish coastline. For the past 25 years, Wyvern has been offering very comfortable B&B to all its guests.

Tee Side Guest House, Bude

Lovely B&B accommodation centrally located minutes from the Path, town & restaurants. Free WiFi. Visit England 4 Star Award Winning Full English Breakfast, vegetarian options available.

The Grosvenor Guest House

Situated on the Path offering a variety of comfortable rooms, hearty breakfast, local produce, packed lunch, WI-FI, bar & drying facilities

Sea Jade, Bude

Sea Jade has 7 en-suite rooms and one other with a private bathroom. Come as a guest,leave as a friend.

Breakwater House B&B, Bude

Breakwater House is a 5* B&B overlooking Bude's canal and sea. Off road parking, and breakfast are included. Close to Bude's best restaurants, pubs, town centre and all amenities.

North Shore Bude Backpackers

Comfortable self-catering with free wi-fi in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Close to beaches,restaurants & bars with seaviews and large garden.

Cerenety Eco Campsite, Bude

Old fashioned, peaceful, back to nature farm camping. Indulge in campfires and ball games while having a limited
impact on the environment.

Southole Barns,Elmscott,Hartland

A haven of peace and tranquility, the Barns enjoy amazing views amidst the timeless beauty of the North Devon countryside with the Coast Path on the doorstep.  

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.

Rectory Farm Tearooms, Morwenstow

The 13ct Tearooms are situated just a 5 minute walk from the South West Coast Path. They serve morning coffee, cornish cream teas, homemade cakes and light lunches. Open 11am-5pm daily Easter to October.

Brendon Arms

Bude's best known inn, owned and run by the Brendon family since 1872.Overlooking Bude's inner harbour and 200 yards from the unique sea-lock and Summerleazes Beach.

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.

Trev's Taxi, Bude

A local taxi service based in Bude in the beautiful county of Cornwall. Providing an efficient service around Bude and surrounding areas. Particularly convenient for visitors walking the Coast Path.

Bayside Taxis, Bude

Locally based family-run taxi service. Ideally situated to transport walkers along the South West Coast Path.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the car park at Duckpool pick up the South West Coast Path on your right as you face the sea, climbing Steeple Point above the tiny rocky cove at Wren Beach and ascending steeply again to Harscott High Cliff.

Steeple Point is a riot of colour in the summer with the bright yellows of bird's-foot trefoil and dandelions, and the pristine white of daisies and speckled sea campions, with purple kidney vetch twining among them and clumps of the pink globes of thrift waving in the sea air.

Birds of prey such as peregrines and kestrels hunt here, and ravens and jackdaws croak overhead. The cliff ledges are home to nesting seabirds such as fulmar and gulls, while grey wagtails strut beside the stream and songbirds such as linnets warble in the bushes.

Like the rest of the coastline between Tintagel and Hartland, Duckpool to Furzey Cove has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its rocks. Known as the Bude Formation, they are among the youngest rocks of the Upper Carboniferous period, around 280 million years ago. They are of particular interest for the patterns sculpted in them by sand volcanoes and stormy waves in shallow water when they were being formed.

They are also of note for the fossils they contain of marine animals, include fish, crustaceans and ammonoids, which are especially useful for helping geologists date the rocks they where they are found.

  1. Stay on the Coast Path as it skirts the radar station and hugs the high cliffs, descending steeply to Stanbury Mouth.

The radar station on the hillside above Duckpool is a striking landmark for many miles in every direction. Part of the British signals intelligence service (GCHQ), the station is sited on the former RAF Cleave, a World War Two airfield. The 21 satellite antennae range in size up to a diameter of 30 metres, and together they receive all the main frequency bands.

Operated jointly by the UK and the USA, the station draws its staff from both countries, and its brief is to intercept and analyse signals for the Echelon signals intelligence network. Sometimes known as "Five Eyes", the joint security arrangement operates on behalf of the five signatory states of the 1946 UK-USA Security Agreement, which formalised the intelligence-sharing element of the Atlantic Charter. Signed in 1941, this charter defined the Allied goals for the post-war world. The five signatories of the 1946 agreement include Australia, New Zealand and Canada in addition to the UK and the USA.

  1. At Stanbury Mouth leave the Coast Path, turning right onto the small path that heads inland alongside the stream. Carry on past the track up the hillside on your left, bearing slightly left above the woodland to follow the path through the heathland ahead, bearing slightly left to go into the field. Once more bear slightly left as you head across the field, to take the path alongside the right-hand hedge in the top field ahead.
  2. Coming out on the road at Eastaway Manor, carry on along the footpath signed opposite, following it along the right-hand hedge above the manor. Descending gently through the next two fields, cross the stream at the bottom of the first to carry on ahead, and then follow the right-hand hedge in the third field to the lane heading south before you come to the houses at Woodford.
  3. Turn right on this lane, carrying on ahead to come out on the road by Shears Farm. Turn right on the road and follow it around to the right to take the public footpath signed along the second lane on your right. At the end of the lane continue along the right-hand hedge, going through the hedge at the far end to carry on along the left-hand hedge. Fork right moment later, heading into the trees at Parishpark Wood. Ignore the path on your right a hundred yards beyond and carry on downhill to the stream.
  4. Fork right to cross the stream and walk to the T-junction just a few yards ahead. Turn right here and follow the path along the right-hand boundary in the trees, bearing sharply left with it as it turns with the stream to follow it roughly south through the woods and on along the lane ahead to the road by the mill.
  5. On the road turn right, bearing left ahead past the houses and then left again at the junction with the road. At the next junction turn right to walk along the road through Duckpool and back to the beach car park.

When the tide drops, a sandy shore is revealed, and a legion of rock pools which are home to a variety of marine life. Conditions at Duckpool provide a good habitat for insects, including grasshoppers and the common soldier beetles often found in pairs on sea carrot flowers. There are large numbers of the more common moths and butterflies, such as the Meadow Brown,  Common Blue, Large White and Small Tortoiseshell, and there are occasional glimpses of migratory species such as the Painted Lady, Clouded Yellow and Red Admiral. Dozens of red-and-black Burnet Moths can be seen on the grassy south-facing slopes in the summer, and one or two Hummingbird Hawk-moths. Duckpool is also known for its glow worms. Look out for them in the hedges on warm summer evenings.

Public transport

Occasional buses run between Bude and Hartland, stopping at Woodford, at point 5 on the walk. Take the 'no through road' by the bus shelter and follow it downhill to Shears Farm to start the walk from there. For details of buses click on the interactive map, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

In Duckpool, at the start of the walk.

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