Walk - Wembury & Heybrook Bay

4.0 miles (6.4 km)

Wembury Beach Car Park - PL9 0HP Wembury Beach Car Park

Moderate - Mostly level and easy underfoot, with one fairly steep but steady climb and a long flight of steps downhill.

A walk following some of the ancient green lanes or 'holloways' linking the fields and villages behind Wembury to the shoreline below. Travelling high on the hillside, the lanes give great views of Plymouth Sound and the English Channel, and the various structures built in the water to defend Plymouth from enemy ships as well as from the weather. This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its rocks and marine life, and it is an important place for wintering and nesting birds. Listen out for cirl buntings in the hedges, and watch out for the swift and deadly dive of a peregrine falcon as it hunts its prey.

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.

Wembury Bay Bed and Breakfast

Situated 5 minutes walk from Wembury Beach. Choice of 2 rooms, a twin en suite or double. Rooms are fitted with TV's and Tea/coffee facilities. Wi Fi, washing/drying available, packed lunches on request. Pub close by.

Ferrystop B&B, Wembury

Wembury B&B plus taxi service, 1km from Coast Path.  One twin en-suite.  £30pppn including breakfast. Free wifi. For more info call 01752 863710 or email [email protected]

Cellars, Noss Mayo

Stunning location on the Coast Path, close to ferry.  En suite rooms include a family room garden studio.  Dogs welcome. Phone 01752 872771

Raleigh Stile B&B, Plymouth

A family run B&B on the eastern side of Plymouth alongside the Coast Path and on the Mount Batten peninsula. Our aim is to offer excellent accommodation and service.

Thorn House B&B, Wembury

Stay at this stunning riverside property with double or twin rooms; both with spectacular views. Internationally recognized gardens also open during your stay. German Speaking.

Worswell Barton Farmhouse B&B, near Noss Mayo

A working National Trust Farm, situated on the penisula of the river Yealm 10 minutes from the Warren Car Park,
B&B or S/C walking groups welcome.

37 Kingfisher Way, Oreston

Right on the Coast Path with beautiful views overlooking Hooe Lake. 2-bedroomed waterside house (including en-suite in master bedroom).

Rusty Anchor, Plymouth

A classic Victorian townhouse adjacent to Plymouth's bustling harbour. This elegant six bedroomed property has been modernised to provide a chic, eclectic look whilst maintaining much of its originality. Locally sourced organic food. Accommodation is flexible, from long term stays, special offers, weekend deals etc.  Small short haired dogs welcome.

Edgcumbe Guest House, Plymouth

Highly recommended guest house offering quality accommodation and fabulous breakfasts using top quality produce. Long established, clean and extremely comfortable, family run.  Perfect base for your walking holiday.  Ideally located a few yards from the sea front.  En suite rooms, free wifi, digital tvs, hairdryers, generous beverage trays. Special diets catered for.

The Edgcumbe Arms, Cremyll

The Edgcumbe Arms is situated on the Coast Path where Cornwall meets Devon. We have 4 recently refurbished B&B rooms and are open all day for food & drinks.

Coombe House, Cawsand

Coombe House B&B - Beautifully renovated farmhouse with stunning sea views and ample carparking.  Just 15 minutes from the Coast Path and 5 minutes from Kingsand/Cawsand offering 4 pubs for dinner. Spacious and immaculate. Highly recommended on Trip Advisor.

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 Old Mill Cafe, Wembury

Located right on Wembury beach.  A National Trust building run by sisters Jemma and Jennifer.  We provide light refreshments, locally roasted organic coffee, delicious pasties from local supplier and homemade sandwiches and soup to have in or takeaway. We are open everyday until 1st November 1030 - 4.30pm 

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From Wembury beach car park, head down to the beach and cross the footbridge to follow the South West Coast path along the clifftop.

On the hillside above you, on the edge of Wembury, the parish church of St Werbergh has tremendous views out over the Great Mewstone to the English Channel. The present Norman church, refurbished in the 1880s, was built in 1088 on the site of a wooden Saxon church. The tower dates from the early fifteenth century, and the 1552 Inventory records three bells. Two were added in 1909, and a sixth in 1948, donated in memory of parishioners who died in World War 2. At the front of the church is the St Werburgh Window, dating from 1886.

St Werburgh, the seventh-century Benedictine Abbess of Weedon and Ely and patron saint of Chester, was the daughter of King Wulfhere of Mercia and granddaughter of the King of Kent. Her great-aunt, St Etheldra, founded the Abbey of Ely. Renowned for her humility and her piety, Werburgh also became known as a miracle-worker, after she successfully ordered a flock of wild geese to leave the cornfields where they were causing havoc. When she died there was such squabbling over where she should be buried that her body had to be kept under lock and key. She was finally buried in Staffordshire, where she had been born. Her fame, however, carried on growing, so that her brother had her coffin moved to a more conspicuous site. When he did so, it was discovered that Werburgh's body was still miraculously intact, nine years later.

The Wembury Marine Centre, by the beach, was the brainchild of marine biologist Dr Norman Holme and it opened in 1994. Open throughout the summer, the centre organises rockpool rambles, guided walks, and a variety of arts and crafts events designed to celebrate the wonderful diversity of marine life that flourishes around the coastline here. It is managed by a partnership formed from Devon County Council, Devon Wildlife Trust, Plymouth University's Marine Institute, South Hams District Council and the National Trust, with support from Wembury Parish Council and with guidance from the advisory group of the Wembury Voluntary Marine Conservation Area.

Wembury was designated a Voluntary Marine Conservation Area when it was recognised that its important marine wildlife was subject to a huge amount of human pressure. The rocky reefs forming the rockpools support a wide range of rocky shore plants and animals, and one of Devon's largest known populations of the rare plant, Shore Dock, is found at Wembury (see the Wembury & Mount Batten Walk).

  1. Turn right onto the green lane about a mile ahead, just before the Coast Path starts to pull out around Wembury Point. At the top of the lane bear right to continue ahead along the road.

This green lane travelling up from the shoreline, Spring Lane, is also known as Seaweed Lane. It is one of 191 ancient trackways restored in the South Hams as part of the District Council's 'Right Tracks' project. Together the district's green lanes cover a staggering 300km, and the same lanes have been in use for many thousands of years, since people first started using them in prehistoric times (see the Woodhuish & Mansands Walk).

Seaweed Lane leads to rich pastureland on the hillside above. Farmers used it to transport seaweed from the beach to spread this on the fields as a fertiliser. Some modern fertilisers are still based on seaweed, which has been found to contain high levels of potassium, as well as nitrogen and phosphates and trace elements such as iron, manganese, zinc, copper and boron. It increases a crop's resistance to damage by frost and parasites, and the salt content deters slugs.

  1. After Prince's Cottage turn left onto the footpath along Smockpark Lane, heading towards Heybrook Bay.

Smockpark Lane is another green lane, or 'holloway', travelled by feet, hooves and wheels for many centuries.

Below you in the Sound you can see Rennie's Breakwater, built to protect the harbour from the southwesterly gales which wrecked numerous ships off Bovisand Point. Nearly a mile long, the breakwater was constructed between 1812 and 1841 using 3½ tonnes of limestone from the Breakwater Quarry at Orestone, purchased from the Duke of Bedford for £10,000.

The lighthouse on the western end of the breakwater was built using white granite from Luxulyan, in Cornwall, and was first lit in 1844. It was originally planned to put a lighthouse on the eastern arm as well, but a beacon was erected instead the following year.

The Breakwater Fort, (which is not actually attached to the breakwater), was constructed in the 1860s and was associated with the Palmerston forts around Bovisand (see the Wembury & Mount Batten Walk).

  1. Before reaching the houses turn right on the path to Heybrook Bay to follow the steps down to the coast.
  2. Rejoining the Coast Path, turn left to walk back to Wembury beach.

HMS Cambridge, the former Royal Navy gunnery school at Wembury Point, was named after a 1666 Man-o'-War ship belonging to King Charles II. The naval buildings have now been demolished and the National Trust has turned the headland back into fields.

Just offshore, the Great Mewstone was the inspiration for Turner's famous 'Mewstone' watercolour painting. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was inhabited (see the Wembury & Mount Batten Walk), but it is now a bird sanctuary and home only to many nesting seabirds. ('Mew' is the old name for a gull).

Public transport

There are regular buses to Wembury from Plymouth. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33

Parking

Wembury Beach Car Park (National Trust) (Postcode for Sat Navs: PL9 0HP).

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