Walk - South Sands Hotel - Salcombe & Soar Mill Cove

5.8 miles (9.4 km)

South Sands Hotel South Sands Hotel

Challenging -

A loop through the woods and picturesque thatched villages behind Sharp Tor, returning along a stretch of high heathland seamed with ancient stone walls, where there are panoramic views from Dodman Point in the west to Prawle Point in the east. Ravens and buzzards circle the dramatic craggy cliffs above an estuary that is a haven for wildlife but a menace to shipping. 

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.

Higher Rew Touring Caravan & Camping Park

Higher Rew is a 4 star family run park close to beautiful Salcombe and the South West Coast Path. The Squire family have, over many years, created a relaxed caravan and camping park for your enjoyment.

Beadon Farmhouse B&B

A 19th century farmhouse a short walk away from Salcombe, set in 2 acres of gardens with direct link to a footpath to North Sands and the Path. Accommodation includes adjoining Garden Cottage and three double bedrooms in the main house.

Rocarno B&B

SINGLE NIGHT STAYS. Lovely views. Free wi-fi, free tea & coffee, great breakfasts.

Waverley B&B

Luxury B&B just 200yrds from the Coast Path 5 en-suite rooms, large choice of breakfast, 1-night stays welcome parking.

Ocean Reach

Luxury holiday homes with 360-degree coastal & countryside views. Restaurant & Bar.Food locally sourced, cooked and presented to the highest standard.

Bolberry Farm Cottages, near Salcombe

Half a mile from the South West Coast Path at Bolberry Down. Short breaks available. Dog friendly.

Shute Farm

16th Century character farmhouse in quiet position. A short distance from the Coast Path and lovely sandy beaches. 3 comfortable ensuite rooms. Open all year.We are willing to pick up and drop off walkers between Salcombe and Bantham

Welle House B&B

4 double/twin ensuite rooms in a family home, ½ mile from the path. Dogs very welcome. Good pub nearby.

Kittiwake Cottage

Luxury holiday cottage, mid 19th Century, white-washed fisherman's cottage, perfect base for a wonderful holiday in all seasons. Wifi available and dogs welcome.
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.

The Cove Café Bar

Multi-award winning the best local produce, Little Sailors and takeaway options. Over 70 craft beers, ales & ciders. Live sport mutliscreen
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.

Kingsbridge Tourist Info Centre

Walking the Coast Path? Call in for all you need including books, maps and our popular accommodation guide, bus & ferry times and much more!

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the South Sands Hotel turn right and follow the road walk uphill until you reach Moult Road on your left. Moult House is on your right screened by trees.

In 1850 William White's 'History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Devonshire' commented that Salcombe was considered 'the warmest place on the south-west coast, as oranges, lemons and American aloes bloom in the open air, in the pleasure grounds of Woodville and the Moult'.
Described by Nikolaus Pevsner as 'the first gentleman's seaside residence in the area', The Moult was built in 1764 and substantially improved in the mid nineteenth century, when it was owned by Viscount Courtenay, the eldest son of the Earl of Devon. Victorian historian and biographer James Anthony Froude often rented The Moult from Courtenay for the summer season (although he also declared that, thanks to the balmy climate, 'Winter in Salcombe is winter only in name'). In 1889, Alfred Lord Tennyson is said to have joined him there, penning his poem 'Crossing the Bar' in a summerhouse in the garden.

  1. Turn sharply left and walk along Moult Road, carrying on ahead along the public footpath when the road turns to a track. Passing the bollards, go into the woods, forking left and crossing a stile to descend through trees to a road. Bear right to continue ahead to Combe, forking left by another postbox to climb to Rew.
  2. Near the top of the hill, turn left onto the public footpath signed to Soar at Higher Rew. Going past the yard, carry on along the green lane beside the barn, bearing left with it into the field. Turn right in the field, following the right-hand hedges and then turning right to cross the cattle grid to the junction by the coastguard cottages at Soar. Carry on along the lane ahead, past the rear of the cottages, to the next junction, with a grassy area on your left above some converted barns.
  3. Ignoring the footpath to your left, take the left-hand road beyond it to walk downhill along the drive signed Soar Mill Cove. Ignore another footpath on your left by the thatched cottage at Lower Soar, carrying on to where the road sweeps left after the hotel. Go left with it briefly, before going through the gate on the right and following the path down the valley to the South West Coast Path at Soar Mill Cove.
  4. Turn left on the Coast path above the cove to follow the acorn waymarkers back to Salcombe. Climbing out of the cove and dipping into another valley before ascending again, carry on along the Warren to the gap in the hedge at the end of the open access area. Fork right beyond it to carry on along the Coast Path around Bolt Head, descending steeply to Starehole Bay.

There are a number of warrens along the South Devon coastline, established and maintained during medieval times for breeding rabbits as a food source. Fishponds were common at the time, too, as well as dovecotes and duck decoy ponds. Warrens were introduced to Britain by the Normans in the twelfth century, when rabbits were also prized for their fur. To start with only the wealthy landowners bred rabbits, but by the thirteenth century many areas kept rabbits in 'coneygarths' or 'pillow mounds', and the practice spread through the population until the late eighteenth century, when rabbit began to be regarded as a pauper's food.
The area around the Warren was inhabited during prehistoric times. Flint tools have been found here, and there are traces of hut circles where families lived in round houses. There are also the remains of field systems from the Bronze Age, some 4000 years ago.
Today the National Trust looks after the area, and Dartmoor ponies are used to graze the cliffs, preventing scrub from smothering the more delicate species. Look out for grey bush crickets and their cousins the great green crickets (the largest in the British Isles). Ravens and buzzards fly over the rocky crags above. Fulmars and gulls breed on the cliff-faces, and cormorants and shags hunt from the rocks below. In spring and autumn migrating swallows and house martins pause on the headland at the start and end of their long journey south.
The headland at Bolt Head was the site of a Second World War lookout until the lookout was demolished in 2007. When the sea is still you can see the seaweed underwater marking the wreck of the German four-masted barque 'Herzogin Cecilie', which ran aground on Ham Stone Rock in 1936 and was towed to Starehole Bay and beached here (see the Sharp Tor & Bolt Head Walk).
Vikings are said to have landed and settled in Starehole Bay sometime between the ninth and eleventh centuries, when there were a number of Viking raids around South Devon.

  1. Cross the bridge to climb out of Starehole on the rough steps and narrow rock ledges that round the point at Sharp Tor. Carry on along the path through Fir Wood to emerge at the National Trust car park at Overbecks.

The path over the steps and ledges is known as the Courtenay Walk. It was cut in the 1860s by Viscount Courtenay, so that visitors to Salcombe could reach Bolt Head.
You are now above the treacherous Salcombe Bar of Tennyson's poem. Stretching from here to Leek Cove, across the water, the Bar is less than two feet (60cm) below water as the tide ebbs and it is a notorious shipping hazard. It was the scene of Devon's worst lifeboat loss, when the 'William & Emma' capsized as she was rowing back from a rescue in 1916. The lifeboat had been launched in southwesterly gales to go to the aid of the Plymouth schooner, Western Lass, which had run aground in Lannacombe Bay. Shortly after it was launched, a message came through saying that all those on board the schooner had been brought safely ashore by the Prawle Rocket Company. Tragically, there was no way of recalling the lifeboat, and the men arrived at the schooner to find that they were not needed. As they recrossed the Bar on their way home, a huge wave threw the crew across the boat and a second swiftly followed and capsized it, drowning all but two of the crew of 15.
Unlike most estuaries, the Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary is not fed by a single sizeable river. Instead, a number of springs rise in the hills behind it, with small streams flowing from them. It is considered to be one of the best examples of a 'ria' that is disproportionate to the size of its feeder river. (A ria is a long, narrow inlet formed when rising sea levels drown a valley).
The estuary is tidal beyond Salcombe, to Kingsbridge, and it is both a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a local nature reserve. Because there is so little water flowing from inland, it is largely a marine system, which has created some important and unusual habitats, including reed beds, mudflats and eelgrass beds. The extensive mudflats at the top of the tidal area are crammed with worms, snails, and bacteria - a feast for the estuary's wading birds and fish - while further downstream there are crabs and shellfish. Down on the foreshore, the rare eelgrass beds provide a nursery for fish and seahorses.
It is also the site of several notable shipwrecks, including one from the Bronze Age (see the Sharp Tor & Bolt Head Walk).
Overbecks, built at the end of the nineteenth century, was bought in the 1920s by inventor Otto Overbeck, after his pioneering electrotherapy machine 'The Rejuvenator' amassed him a small fortune (see the Sharp Tor & Bolt Head Walk). He lived there until his death in 1937, having bequeathed it to the National Trust, on condition that it was turned into a museum and youth hostel, and not a brothel!

  1. Coming out of Overbecks, carry on ahead down the road and follow it downhill back to South Sands.
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