Walk - Hive Beach

2.0 miles (3.2 km)

Burton Hive Beach Car Park - DT6 4RF Burton Hive Beach Car Park

Easy - Narrow paths, almost level throughout, with just a few steps upwards (some steep) and very gentle descent. 

An easy stroll on almost flat ground, visiting the world-famous towering golden cliffs on Hive Beach, where Hitler was planning to land his troops in 1940, and where Allied troops subsequently practised climbing for the D-Day landings. Much older history can be found in fossils embedded in limestone boulders on the beach. This walk is particularly good for dogs as it passes beaches and a pub where dogs are welcome. East Beach is only walkable in the summer season. Use the walk (or part of it) to visit the hidden beaches at either Hive Beach or Cogden Beach.

Have a look at our Top Dog Walks on the South West Coast Path for more dog-friendly beaches and pubs. 

 

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.

Tern Cottage - Dream Cottages

2-Bed Bungalow, minutes from the Path, beach & harbour. Perfectly located for enjoying the Dorset coastline

Graston Farm Cottages

Situated 30 minutes walk from the Path, set in the beautiful Bride Valley. Choice of B&B in renovated farmhouse or one of the newly converted cosy self catering cottages.

Cliff Cottage B&B

A few hundred yards from the coast path, Cliff Cottage was built in the 18th Century and renovated in 2013. Shops, pubs and restaurants of West Bay are a ten-minute walk.

Eype's Mouth Country Hotel

Small Hotel, superb sea views, minutes to beach, Heritage coastline, Coast Path, ideal for ramblers, ornithologists, anthropologists or geologists.

Broadlands B&B

Friendly family run B&B. Kingsize ensuite room with bath/shower and stunning views of sea and Coast Path. Close to main bus route & pubs.

Fossil&The Cross Cottage - Dream Cottages

2 bedroom cosy cottage just a short walk from bexington beach with garden, patio area and log burner. Perfect for couple or small family

Dorset Seaside Cottages

Two stylish 4* gold self catering cottages, 20 minutes walk from the beach at Seatown with numerous walks on the doorstep. Cottages equipped to a high standard.

Pound Cottage

Pound Cottage is a beautiful cottage situated in the heart of the bustling village of Chideock. It sleeps up to four in two bedrooms.

The Seaside Shepherd's Hut

Beautiful, hand-crafted shepherd's hut for 2 with all mod cons, double bed, wood burner and stunning views over Lyme Bay with private path to Chesil beach. Includes breakfast.

Mervyn House

A comfortable and spacious B&B, situated in the centre of the village near the Coast Path.  Click the picture to see details and visitor comments.

Chideock House

Thatched wisteria clad house, built 1465 is full of charm and character. The dining room is oak beamed, rooms are fully equipped and we are 10 mins walk from the Coast Path.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From Beach Road car park walk down to Hive Beach.

On the hill beyond the car park, to the left, is a bowl barrow known as Bind Barrow, dating back to the Late Neolithic (Stone Age) or Bronze Age, between 2500 BC and 701 BC. It was damaged by military activity during the Second World War, leaving an area of concrete on the top, and there is a wartime gun emplacement and pillbox nearby.

Lyme Bay was Hitler's target invasion zone, with Bridport and Hive Beach identified as the ideal landing spot for his 1940 Operation Sealion invasion plan. The whole stretch of coastline from Bridport to Portland became the UK's 'Stop Line' against invading forces, and there are many lookouts, gun emplacements and pillboxes on the slopes between the coast and the high ridges behind.

Later in the war, when the Allies were planning a raid on Dieppe, soldiers took part in exercises near Bridport, with Burton Bradstock the main focus. British Commandos and US Rangers used the cliffs between Hive Beach and Freshwater to train for the cliff climbing necessary to silence the guns stationed at Pointe du Hoc in Normandy.

In Burton Bradstock village there is a seat, dated 1994, marking the 50th anniversary of D-Day and recalling the US Troops billeted in the village.

Burton Cliff is a dramatic tower of Bridport Sands that looks as though it belongs in a desert landscape. The sandstone is broken down into horizontal strata, or layers, which were formed as sand was deposited at the bottom of the sea during the Lower Jurassic period, about 175 million years ago. Some of the strata are harder than the ones between them, making them more resistant to erosion, or weathering so that they stand out on the cliff face. There is more calcium carbonate in these bands, acting as a cement, and it is thought that this was as a result of stormy seas washing in more organic material, such as seashells.

At the top of the cliffs, and elsewhere on the beach, there is a layer of younger oolitic limestone. Oolitic limestones form in shallow sandbanks and they are composed of tiny round structures like pearls, known as ooliths. These started out as grains of sand or fragments of seashell, and as they rolled around in the sea they became coated in calcium carbonate. There are chunks of this limestone on the beach, where they have fallen from the cliffs, and like the rest of the local coastline, they are rich in fossils ammonites, shellfish and sponges.

Because of the danger of rockfalls, keep clear of the cliffs. Another hazard is the sea, which shelves steeply and has a strong undertow, so don't be tempted in. Dogs are not permitted on the beach between June and September inclusive.

  1. From the beach retrace your steps towards the car park, but before you reach it turn left onto the South West Coast Path, heading towards Freshwater and West Bay. Be aware of the diversion that was put in place in 2013. This diversion is now the permanent route. The re-routed SWCP goes inland before cutting back towards Burton Cliff just beyond the road. Ignore the footpath to the right at 2 (unless you want a shortcut back to Burton Bradstock).

The calcium-rich high cliffs give rise to an area of maritime grassland, providing a good habitat for wildlife, and clumps of pink-headed thrift grow in abundance along the cliff-edge, as well as mallow plants with their much larger pink and purple blooms. Many other plants flourish here, including the yellow-flowered bird's-foot trefoil, pink pyramidal orchids and aromatic wild thyme. The flowers attract insects, such as grasshoppers and the wonderfully-named green tiger beetles and bloody-nosed beetles. Butterflies found here include common blues and wall browns, as well as the Lulworth skipper, and nationally endangered miner bees and wasps burrow in the soft soil towards Freshwater.

Look out for herring gulls, fulmars and peregrine falcons nesting on the cliff ledges, and in the summer keep an eye open for dolphins swimming offshore.

  1. At Freshwater, follow the South West Coast Path inland as it heads to a footbridge over a stream.

The spectacularly sculpted banks of shingle on the beach at Freshwater are the result of careful work carried out by the Environment Agency to protect the free flow of the River Bride, continually under threat from the perpetual motion of the pebbles on Chesil Beach.

  1. Ignoring the bridge, take the footpath to the right, joining the lane at Southover.
  2. Crossing the road, climb the steps in the hedge opposite and continue ahead a short distance along the footpath. Bear slightly right across the field, towards the right-hand houses, to come out by the car park on Beach Road.

Public transport

The Jurrassic Coastlink X53 bus runs every two hours between Bridport and Weymouth and stops in Burton Bradstock. If arriving by bus, the walk can be started from the village by following signs to Burton Beach behind the car garage. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

Burton Hive Beach Car Park is a National Trust car park and is free of charge between October and March (includes disabled facilities and provision. (Postcode for Sat Navs: DT6 4RF).

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