Walk - Hope Cove, Bolt Tail & Bolberry Down

4.8 miles (7.7 km)

Outer Hope Car Park - TQ7 3HJ Outer Hope Car Park

Moderate - Coastal path and field footpaths which may be muddy and are uneven in places, quiet road, green lane. Some short stretches of gentle ascent and descent.

A walk from the thatched village of Outer Hope, past the sandy beach at Hope Cove, whose deadly rock fringes have wrecked many a ship, and on around the high headland of Bolt Tail, where the plunging cliffs once formed the seaward defences of a prehistoric promontory fort. Out in the bay smugglers once dropped brandy kegs to the seabed for the fishermen to retrieve along with their crab creels and lobster pots, and 140 sixteenth-century Spanish sailors escaped with their lives when they were ransomed instead of being executed. In summer kestrels and peregrine hunt above the flower-filled coastal grasslands, and the inland green lanes are fragrant with honeysuckle.

Dogs are allowed (on leads) in Hope Cove.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Mount Folly Farm

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. 

Summerwinds B&B

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

Heart and Sole Wellbeing

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

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.

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 entrance to the beach car park at Outer Hope, turn left to follow the lane past the Hope and Anchor Inn and on to Hope Cove.

Torbay was the principal anchorage for the English fleet during the seventeenth century, with its high cliffs and hills providing shelter from north and easterly gales. The navy anchored here for long periods during the Napoleonic wars, and many officers bought houses here for their families. In the nineteenth century, several dozen ships were sometimes anchored in Hope Cove at any given time, sheltering from the storms. Large trading vessels still take advantage of the safe anchorage, and oil tankers and container ships can often be seen offshore.

In 1588, in a huge swathe of more than 130 galleons, the Spanish Armada sailed up the English Channel. A chain of beacons had been set up around England's southern coastline to warn of any possible invasion, and they were quickly spotted and the alarm raised. The English fleet set sail from Plymouth, with Devon adventurers Francis Drake and John Hawkins among its commanders, and it quickly routed the Spanish fleet, which fled northwards, travelling around the top of Scotland and creeping back down Britain's westerly coastline.

A storm blew up as they crossed the Channel again, and a transport ship fitted out as a hospital ship - the San Pedro el Mayor - was driven onto Shippen Rock, between Hope's two beaches. The 140 survivors were sentenced to death, but won a reprieve when it was decided to ransom them instead.

The deadly rocks on this part of the coast were responsible for many a shipwreck over the centuries. The most tragic was the wreck of an elderly 90-gun warship, the HMS Ramillie, in 1760, when 700 lives were lost. Seeking shelter in a storm, the captain mistook Bolt Tail for Rame Head, and turned straight onto the rocks, thinking that he was heading into the safety of Plymouth Sound.

  1. At Hope Cove carry on along the lane ahead to pick up the South West Coast Path by the slipway. From here the path travels around the headland to the substantial rampart across the headland.

Bolt Tail was the site of an Iron Age cliff fort, thought to date from around 600 BC. The headland's sheer cliffs defended the fort from an attack by sea, and the rampart was built across the promontory's neck to enable the occupiers to repel any land-based invasion.

People lived and worked in the area even before then. Archaeologists have found a number of prehistoric flint tools nearby which date from the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) period, around 6,000 years ago.

  1. Detour to the tip of Bolt Tail to visit the prehistoric promontory fort. Returning to the Coast Path afterwards, carry on along above the cliffs and on through Bolberry Down, ignoring the path back to Hope Cove and several others heading off to the left.

The coastline from Bolt Tail to Sharpitor is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its insects, bird and plant life. The National Trust owns the land around Bolberry Down, and it has put a number of conservation strategies in place to maintain the rich variety of wildlife in these coastal grasslands. Using grazing animals to control the scrub, the Trust has encouraged more delicate species to proliferate, and in summer the cliffs are bright with wildflowers. Look out for the thatched pink globes of the thrift, and the feathery leaves and white umbrella flowers of the yarrow. Overhead skylarks and meadow pipits trill, while from the bushes yellowhammers call, and there may be a sighting of the rare Dartford warblers and cirl buntings.

  1. When the Coast Path hits a lane joining from above, below the mast, turn left onto it and walk to the junction beyond. Carry on over the cattle grid, past the houses and the mast, ignoring the green lanes to your right and then left, to the T-junction at Bolberry.
  2. At the T-junction turn left, forking right by the fingerpost after the barn and dropping downhill before climbing to where the road turns sharply right at the top.

During the Second World War, a busy radar station at Bolberry Down was part of a chain protecting England's south and east coasts. RAF Bolt Tail's brief was to monitor shipping and low-flying enemy aircraft, so that RAF fighter planes could intercept them. It was run by the Womens Royal Air Force, and there was an operations area near the cliff, protected by blast walls, fences and ditches. The Port Light Inn was the dining area for the RAF personnel, and it was at the centre of a cluster of Nissen huts. The inn, now closed, was originally built in 1909 as the clubhouse for the Bolberry Down Golf Club, which closed five years later. More recently the Port Light Inn has closed and the site is being redeveloped into holiday homes.

  1. Turn left onto 'Sweethearts Lane', and left again at the T-junction beyond, taking the footpath signed to Galmpton. The footpath swings right just before Higher Barton, bearing slightly left in the first field to go through the hedge into the next field. Carry on alongside this hedge to the track at the top.

In summer this green lane is awash with wildflowers, and banks of honeysuckle tumbling over the hedges scent the air. Many butterflies are drawn to the flowers, including the silver-studded blue, the marbled white and the brown argus.

  1. Turn left to take the footpath heading over the stone stile by the tall waymarker, and follow it along the hedges of several fields, back to Hope village. Cross the road to take the path down the steps beside St Clements Church, turning right On the Coast Path to retrace your steps to the car park.

Public transport

Bus service 162 between Kingsbridge and Hope Cove, twice a day, Monday to Saturday.

For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

Private car park in Outer Hope (Postcode for Sat Navs: TQ7 3HJ).

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