Walk - Ringmore and Bigbury

6.4 miles (10.4 km)

Bigbury-on-Sea Car Park - TQ7 4AZ Bigbury-on Sea Car Park

Challenging - Field and coastal footpaths, green lanes, surfaced roads, with some short climbs and descents.

Following the Avon Estuary Way inland, this walk visits the picturesque thatched village of Ringmore before returning along open clifftops where the breeze is laced with the smell of the sea. The peaceful chocolate-box village has a colourful history, including a vicar who hid in the church tower for three months after firing on Cromwell's Roundheads, and smugglers who hid their booty in a secret chamber in the village inn. Use the walk (or part of it) to visit the sandy beaches at Bigbury, Challaborough or Ayrmer Cove.

The Journey's End Inn is a dog friendly pub, and Bigbury is a dog friendly 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.

Summerwinds, Bigbury

Views to Bantham and Burgh Island. Full English breakfast.Wifi.One night stays welcome.

Hooppells Torr Bed and Breakfast

Luxury coastal Farmhouse B&B set in 5 acres of grounds, gorgeous bedrooms with ensuite and an indoor pool.

Heart and Sole Wellbeing

Beautiful 4-bed house 2mins from beach.  I offer fitness sessions, mindfulness, nutritious superfoods to reenergize, refocus and reinvent.   

Holywell B&B

Free pick up and drop back to the coast path, rooms from £40 per night incls. breakfast. Pub opposite for dinner.

Mount Folly Farm, Bigbury on Sea

Basic farm campsite located right on the Path.  Showers, toilets, electric hook ups, camp fires and a field with a view.  Ideal stopping point before crossing the River Avon. 

Kimberley B&B, Ringmore

Sleeps up to 4 in King and Twin rooms with private bath. Cooked breakfast.  Sea views. Local pub. Dogs in twin room. £40 pppn, single supplement £20 per room.

Shute Farm, South Milton

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.

The Ivy Barn, Holbeton

The Ivy Barn B&B in Holbeton approximately 2 miles from the Erme Estuary crossing. Ideally located for Coast Path walkers.

Carswell Cottages, Holbeton, Plymouth

6 peaceful, cottages dotted around our coastal organic dairy farm, just a short walk from the Path. Short breaks available all year.

Little Waverley, Hope Cove

Just yards from the South West Coast Path offering weekly lets & short breaks for 2-4 people – TV, wifi, parking, 2 mins walk to post office /shop, pub & cafe.

Bolberry Farm Cottages, near Salcombe

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

Bolberry House Farm, Marlborough

Nestled in the rolling hills of South Devon, between the old fishing village of Hope Cove and the boating paradise of Salcombe. An ideal base to explore the magnificent 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.

The Cove Café Bar

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

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the entrance to the seafront car park in Bigbury-on-Sea turn right onto Marine Drive and walk to where the South West Coast Path leaves on the right. Turn onto the Coast Path and follow it around Sharpland Point, crossing the road with it afterwards to take the permissive path alongside Folly Hill.

The Avon estuary is tidal as far as the weir at Aveton Gifford, and is an important site for feeding and roosting birds. Swans are often seen here, and there is a heronry near Cockleridge, just ahead. Seabirds and shelduck breed in the inlet, and during autumn and winter many migrating birds and waders can be seen (see the Avon Estuary Walk).

  1. Turn right on the track at the top to return to the road. Turning left, walk a short distance up the road to where a footpath heads off through a field to the right. Turning onto this footpath to join the Avon Estuary Way, follow the right-hand hedge to the road beyond.
  2. Turn left on the road and walk to the turning bay. Turn right here to cross the cattle grid and walk down the drive. Carry on past the houses at Hexdown, bearing right along the footpath beyond.
  3. Turn left at the bottom, to follow the private drive above the estuary. The drive climbs gently around the hillside, curving to the left as it heads inland to Lincombe. From here it turns sharply right and heads towards the road.
  4. Just before you reach the road, turn right into the field to follow the permissive footpath along the hedge. Ignore the footpath to the right halfway across the second field, signed to Milburn Orchard, instead carrying on along the footpath beside the left-hand hedge. Stay with the footpath as it turns right and then left around Bigbury and follow it down the steps to the road on the left before the barns.
  5. Turn left on the road and right on the bigger road beyond. Carry on out of the village and take the footpath on the left, down the lane by the speed limit sign. Turn right at the end of the first field and then turn left to follow the path through the trees. Carry on ahead along the hedge to the bottom of the long field.
  6. Turn right to go into the right-hand field, turning left once inside to follow the footpath along the left-hand hedge to head for the far right-hand corner of the next field. Turn left here to follow the right-hand hedge down to the lane, turning right on it to walk into Ringmore.

Ringmore was first documented in the 1086 Domesday Book, which listed it as the manor of Reimora, but there is thought to have been a Saxon settlement here before it. The present All Hallows church dates from 1240, but there is evidence that it was built on a Saxon church. The village pub, the Journey’s End, was built to accommodate the labourers working on the new church in the thirteenth century. The inn was named after a play by R.C. Sherriff about life in the trenches during the First World War, written when the playwright was staying here. Like the Pilchard Inn on Burgh island, it is said to have been used by smugglers, who stored their contraband behind a false wall, also hiding behind the fact that the very respectable town council held its meetings here.

  1. At the first junction turn left, walking past the 'no through road' to the National Trust sign for Ayrmer Cove.
  2. Bear right through the gate to follow the National Trust path to the cove.

Ringmore's rector took it upon himself to defend the bridge at Aveton Gifford during the English Civil War, and in 1643 he built himself a small fort from which to fire upon Cromwell's men as they marched through (see the Avon Estuary Walk). It was too far from the bridge to be effective, however, and his efforts were in vain. The Roundheads later landed at Ayrmer Cove, seeking revenge, and the vicar was forced to hide in the church tower for more than three months before escaping to France.

  1. Turn left on the South West Coast Path and follow it above the cliffs to Challaborough.

Challaborough's small sandy bay was once Ringmore’s port. The fishing fleet set out from here, returning with its catch of pilchards, and coal was later brought in on cargo vessels to be delivered around the parish.

  1. In Challaborough bear right on the road around the beach, carrying on ahead along the Coast Path at the end to return to the seafront car park in Bigbury-on-Sea.

Just offshore and linked to the mainland by a sea tractor when the tide is too high to walk, Burgh Island was a monastery in medieval times. The Pilchard Inn, on the island, is thought to have been built as guest accommodation for the monastery. In later centuries the tiny chapel on the island's summit was a huer's hut, where the fishing fleet's lookout would watch for pilchard shoals. The art deco hotel on the island was built in the 1930s and its past guest list is said to have included Churchill and Eisenhower (see the Burgh Island Walk).

Bigbury Bay has been designated an area of geological importance for its rock formations, which demonstrate the way earth movements once compressed the rocks and thrust the layers into dramatic formations. Here the slates and shales of the Meadfoot Beds meet the Dartmouth Beds from the Devonian period, and the folds and faults in the rocks are visible around Sharpland Point. The pink rocks are the Meadfoot Beds, stained that colour by the younger red sandstone rocks of the Permian period, also found in the area.

Public transport

Limited. Bus service 875 from Modbury and Plympton; Fridays only.
For further information visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 2233.

Parking

Bigbury-on-Sea Car Park, pay and display (Postcode for Sat Navs: TQ7 4AZ).

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