Walk - Branscombe

1.9 miles (3.0 km)

Branscombe Mouth - EX12 3DP Branscombe Mouth

Moderate - The first stretch of this walk along the Coast Path west of Branscombe Mouth is a fairly steep aacent, but once at the top of this hill it is then fairly level or downhill to the village of Branscombe and thenback down the valley to Branscombe Mouth. The footpaths may also be muddy and slippery in places after rain.

A very short walk from Branscombe Mouth to the picturesque thatched village of Branscombe, where the National Trust maintains several delightful properties dating back at least two centuries. Visit the working forge and mill (check opening times), then enjoy a traditional cream tea in the Old Bakery tea-room. If you are feeling energetic after exploring the village, extend the route along the delightful valley behind, to the historic Hole House and Edge Barton (see the Hole House and Edge Barton Walk).

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.

Belmont House

2 minutes walk from the beach & South West Coast Path, offering Adult Only accommodation in 5 comfortable, ensuite rooms. Pubs, cafes and restaurants 1 minute walk away for breakfast and evening meal.

Coombe View Campsite

Come and stay with us in the heart of the beautiful green East Devon countryside. Just one mile from the unspoilt coastal village of Branscombe.

Oakdown Holiday Park

Family run award winning Holiday Park with touring, camping, glamping units and 5 star leisure lodges. Peace & tranquillity by the Coast.

Holyford Farm Cottages

A variety of accommodation options at this stunning Grade 2 listed property, in a beautiful remote setting near the village of Colyford, less than 1.5 miles to the Coast Path at Seaton.

Higher Wiscombe, near Beer

4 dog friendly cottages, all bedrooms ensuite, two sleep 6, one sleeps 20, one sleeps 2. Luxurious and very eco, just inland from the South West Coast Path.
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.
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.


Pecorama is a leading visitor attraction overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage coastline with award-winning gardens & rides on Britain’s finest 7.25 inch railway.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the car park at Branscombe Mouth follow the road towards the beach; but instead of going down onto the beach carry on past the tearooms and pick up the South West Coast Path on the right-hand side beyond them. Cross the field to the gap in the far hedge and follow the Coast Path through the trees above the cliffs.
  2. Ignore the path heading uphill to the right about half a mile into the walk, and carry on along the Coast Path to the next fork in Church Coppice, signed to Branscombe.
  3. Turn right onto this path and follow it through the woods to the fields beyond. The path descends steeply to the stream and then climbs to the church.

Branscombe Church is dedicated to St Winifred, a seventh-century Welsh saint who was beheaded by her suitor, Caradoc, when she decided to become a nun. According to legend, her head rolled downhill and a healing spring appeared where it came to rest. Luckily her maternal uncle was a saint himself and was able to rejoin her head and body and restore her to life. At the same time he called down heaven's wrath on Caradoc, and the ground opened and swallowed him.

Since all this took place in Wales, and the saint had no connection with Branscombe, in 1874 the dedication was challenged. Scholars believed it much more likely that the original dedication was to St Winfrid (also known as St Wynfrith, but more famously as St Boniface). Thought to have been born in Crediton at the end of the seventh century, St Winfrid trained as a monk in the Benedictine monastery near Winchester - an industrious centre of learning in the tradition of Aldhelm (see the St Aldhelm's Head Walk).  After this he took Christianity into the Frankish empire, subsequently becoming the Patron Saint of Germany.

The church was built in the early twelfth century, but it is thought that there was a Saxon building on the site beforehand. In the 1920s archaeologists uncovered traces of the original stonework, based on a Saxon ground plan. According to Nikolaus Pevsner's 1952 guide, the tower and nave are Norman, the chancel dates from the fourteenth century and the east window and the wagon roof in the nave are from the fifteenth century.

The tombs in the churchyard include that of one John Hurley, 'an active and diligent officer', whose duties as a Custom House Officer led to his death. According to his epitaph: 'As he was endeavouring to extinguish some fire made between Beer and Seaton as a signal to a smuggling boat then off the sea, he fell by some means or other from the top of the cliff to the bottom by which he was unfortunately killed.'

Opposite, the cottage known as 'Church Living' was traditionally associated with the Church, but it was never a vicarage. It is believed to have been a summer residence of the Canons of Exeter Cathedral. Although, like much of Branscombe, it was built in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, parts of it date back to the twelfth century. In the past 200 years it has been known by a number of other names, all connected with the church: ‘The Deans’, ‘The Clergy’, and ‘Priests’ House’.

  1. Coming out of the churchyard onto the road, turn right. Ignoring the lane on your left after the post office, walk downhill to the village hall, the Forge and the Old Bakery.

The Forge is thought to be the only thatched working forge surviving in Devon and was built between 1700 and 1900. Like many local buildings, there are flints scattered throughout the walls, especially below the eaves and in the central doorway. The Bakery (also thatched) dates from 1767-1800, and provides a superb setting for its traditional cream teas.

  1. Pick up the Hole House & Edge Barton Walk outside the village hall for a longer walk; but otherwise bear right at the junction and then fork right a moment later to walk along Mill Lane.
  2. When Mill Lane comes to an end beside Manor Mill, carry on ahead through the gate to take the footpath along the track.

Manor Mill was built in the second half of the eighteenth century, but earlier records mention a grist mill on the same site. As far back as the 1086 Domesday Book, the manor of Branscombe belonged to the See of Exeter; and so Mill Estate, too, belonged to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral, until it was sold in the nineteenth century. It continued as a working mill until sometime before the Second World War.

  1. When the track forks take the right-hand path to go through the gap in the hedge beyond. Carry on along the hedge in the field beyond to the bottom left-hand corner.
  2. Going through the hedge, turn right with the path and follow it beside the old mill stream, back to the car park at Branscombe Mouth.

On the hill above, to the left, Great Seaside Farmhouse is one of the National Trust's most important vernacular properties in Devon. Built of stone, also with a thatched roof, it developed from a fifteenth-century building, with moulded stone fireplaces added in the next couple of centuries, and panelling in the eighteenth.

Public transport

The Axe Valley Mini-Travel 899 bus runs between Seaton and Sidmouth, stopping at Branscombe. For detailed timetable information, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33


National Trust car park in Branscombe village and private car park at Branscombe Mouth (we've had reports this car park has camera controlled parking enforcement, so if you overstay you will be sent a 'fine').


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