Walk - Wembury & Heybrook Bay

4.2 miles (6.7 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

10 minutes walk from Wembury Beach. Choice of 3 rooms, a twin en suite, a twin room or double. Rooms are fitted with TV's and Tea/coffee facilities. Wi Fi, washing/drying available, packed lunches on request. Pub close by.

Shearwater B&B

Just 400 metres from the SWCP, this beautiful 4 bedroomed home offer a double and twin room and home-cooked breakfast. Panoramic views over the Bay

Wembury Camping

Small site with hot shower and real loo. Near shop and pub with sea views. Just off the path and 15 minutes from the Yealm Ferry.

Drakes View

Pop-up site close to Bovisand beach. No facilities.

Edgcumbe Guesthouse

Just yards from the seafront this top quality guest house offers gorgeous en suite rooms, free wifi,hairdryers,generous beverage trays.

Mariners Guest House

James & Marie offer a warm welcome. Situated close to Plymouth’s historic Hoe, we have just been awarded Gold for our green tourism which we are proud of.

Leonardo Hotel

The Leonardo Hotel Plymouth is a modern city hotel, located a five-minute walk from Plymouth’s historic harbour and close to cafes and restaurants. Hotel bar with food menu available.

The Duke of Cornwall Hotel

A stunning hotel set in the heart of Britain's Ocean City with 72 individually styled bedrooms, a cosy Lounge and fine dining restaurant.

Maker Camp

Escape at Maker Heights. 'Wild' camping campsite, popular cafe and arts & crafts studios on site.10 mins walk from beach, village/pub. Part of Rame Conservation Trust.

Coombe House B&B

Beautifully renovated farmhouse, stunning sea views, ample carparking, 15 mins from the Path, 5 mins from Kingsand/Cawsand offering 4 pubs for dinner. Highly recommended on Trip Advisor.

Wringford Cottages

We are a family run, dog friendly, holiday cottage complex set it 3 acres with a heated indoor swimming pool, tennis court and 6 cottages.

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

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.

Cliff Edge Cafe

Right on the SW Coast Path, we offer tasty home cooked food, using locally sourced produce supporting local businesses. We offer a warm welcome and excellent service to all our customers

Flapjackery Plymouth

Stop off and treat yourself or stock up for your trip along the Path with these delicious, award winning, gluten free flapjacks in a variety of flavours.

Ocean Studios

Ocean Studios is Real Ideas’ hub of creative energy, with a stunning exhibition and café space, located in the stunning Royal William Yard, a stones' throw from the SWCP.

The V.O.T

Just a stone’s throw from the Royal William Yard, The V.O.T perfectly combines old with new, fusing together historical structure and contemporary design. Serving tapas, snacks, drinks & Coffee. Holiday cottage accommodation next door.

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.

Mount Batten Watersports and Activities Centre

The Mount Batten Watersports and Activities Centre is located right on the South West Coast Path on the beautiful Mount Batten peninsula.

River Yealm Electric Water Taxi

Community Electric Water Taxi (YCET) serving the River Yealm (Warren Point to Old Cellars) l

Plymouth Tourist Information Centre

Drop in to find all the information you need to enjoy Plymouth's Ocean City experience, including where to visit, stay and eat and drink

Cremyll Ferry - Operated by Plymouth Boat Trips

Loved for centuries by all who have travelled on her, the historic Cremyll Ferry provides a gateway to discover this beautiful part of the South West.

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


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


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