Walk - Bolt Tail & Burleigh Dolts

8.5 miles (13.7 km)

Village Car Park, Malborough - TQ7 3BU Village Car Park, Malborough

Challenging - Coastal and field footpaths which can be muddy, quiet roads and green lanes, some gentle ups and down.

A circular walk between two Iron Age enclosures thought to have been built by the Celtic Dumnonii tribe who inhabited the South West over 2000 years ago. Both sites are on high ground with terrific views over coast and countryside. In summer the high cliffs are fringed with wildflowers and the ancient green lanes used on the inland part of the walk are scented by the banks of honeysuckle tumbling over the hedges. Butterflies linger in the flowers, and skylarks and meadow pipits trill high overhead. A good walk in autumn too, when you may spot migratory seabirds passing offshore on their way west. Look out for skuas, terns and Manx shearwaters.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Bolberry Farm Cottages, near Salcombe

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

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.

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.

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. 

Summerwinds, Bigbury

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

Welle House B&B, East Prawle

4 double/twin ensuite rooms in a family home, ½ mile from the path. Dogs very welcome. Good pub nearby.

Kittiwake Cottage

Luxury holiday cottage, mid 19th Century, white-washed fisherman's cottage, perfect base for a wonderful holiday in all seasons.

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.

Coast @ Gara Rock

“Spectacular views and food to match”  Family friendly food that does not cost the Earth. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or website.

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 village hall car park in Malborough take the footpath out of the corner near the petrol station. Crossing the top of Collaton Road, turn left along Higher Town. Just beyond the Old Inn, turn right down Chapel Lane. Carry on ahead along Great Lane, turning left at the end, where it meets Luckhams Lane, and turn right a moment later, towards the fields. Follow the footpath along the edge of two fields to go through the kissing gate on the left and into the big field beyond.

Although there is very little trace of it now, in the mid to late Iron Age - probably sometime between 350 BC and AD 43 - there was a substantial hillfort here. At the time when the field was enclosed this was known as Castle Park; but around the eighteenth century it was known as the Burleigh Dolts Camp. According to Bailey's Dictionary, published in 1745, 'Burley' meant big, or heavy, and 'doke' was a ditch or furrow.

The hillfort consisted of ramparts and ditches forming three concentric circles (circles inside each other). These provided shelter for a small ovoid central enclosure, which may have included a number of residential round houses. The site has far-reaching views in all directions, which would have enabled the inhabitants to keep an eye open for possible attack. Archaeologists believe that sites like this might not have been permanently occupied, however, and were probably used for trade, religious ceremonies and general gatherings, and possibly for storage too.

There are many of these hillforts arond the South West Coast Path, dating from the same period, and it is thought that they belonged to the Celtic tribe known as the Dumnonii. These people occupied the area within today's South West Coast Path - all of Devon and Cornwall, with some parts of Dorset and Somerset included too. They were a scattered tribe, with no currency and no central organisational structure, but they were particularly noted for their hospitality towards strangers.

The commanding views over the countryside and the coast meant that this was a prime site at various other times too. A recent geophysical survey of the field found traces of what are thought to be burial mounds from the Bronze Age, which went before the Iron Age. In 1789 a seventeenth-century silver coin of Charles I was found, indicating that the hillfort may have been re-occupied then. Within the inner circuit, a brick bunker (now used as a reservoir) remains from the Second World War, when there was a radar station here.

In 1950 the landowner bulldozed the field to level it, in the post-war drive for agricultural development in rural areas, and much of the hillfort was demolished. The current landowner has returned the field to pastureland, which makes it easier to see where the ramparts once were.

  1. Retrace your steps via Chapel Lane and Higher Town, back to the junction by the petrol station. This time turn right down Collaton Road and right again a moment later, by the 20 mph signs. Bear left almost immediately to walk down Well Hill. Bear left onto the public footpath towards the end, just before the road curves to the right downhill, and carry on along the lane. In front of the farmhouse at Portlemore Barton carry straight on along the track signed to Furzedown, taking the track on the right as you approach Furzedown Farm.
  2. Reaching the road, turn left, taking the footpath on the right a moment later, by the National Trust's South Down Farm sign, to cross two fields. At the far left-hand corner of the second field cross the stone stile to carry straight on, turning left at the waymarker. On the far side of South Down Farm take the waymarked footpath, heading north west, to a T-junction on a green lane. Turn left onto the lane (Jacob's Lane), signed to Bolberry Down.

Jacob's Lane is one of many green lanes in the South Hams. These are ancient pathways used by the local people for many centuries - in some cases for several millennia - as they travelled between home, the village, the church, the pub, the shoreline and their fields (see the Woodhuish & Man Sands Walk).

  1. At the road turn left, crossing the cattle grid at Bolberry Down and carrying on ahead until you come to the South West Coast Path. On the Coast Path turn right to follow the acorn waymarkers above the cliffs to the tip of the headland at Bolt Tail.

During the Second World War there was a busy radar station at Bolberry Down, part of a chain protecting England's south and east coasts (see the Hope Cove, Bolt Tail & Bolberry Down Walk).

The rampart built across the headland during the Iron Age is very much easier to see than the bulldozed ramparts of Burleigh Dolts. This promontory fort is thought to date from around 600 BC (earlier than the Burleigh Dolts hillfort). It used the sheer cliffs as defences against any possible attack from the sea.

  1. From Bolt Tail retrace your steps to the Coast Path and follow it to Inner Hope, turning left on the road at the bottom of the steps by the slipway. Bear left towards Outer Hope a moment later.

In the past the whole Torbay area was the English fleet's principal anchorage, and in the nineteenth century, as many as several dozen ships sometimes anchored together in Hope Cove, as they all sought shelter from storms at sea. Reaching the cove required careful navigation, though, and the deadly rocks around this part of the coastline were responsible for many shipwrecks. The most tragic of these was the HMS Ramillie, which went down in 1760, with the loss of 700 lives (see the Hope Cove, Bolt Tail & Bolberry Down Walk).

  1. By St Clements Church a public footpath heads up the steps, signed to Galmpton. Turn right onto this path, crossing the road to continue up a private drive. Carry on along the footpath ahead, walking alongside the right-hedge of several fields to where a track crosses yours, heading to Bolberry. Ignore this track to carry straight on ahead, heading to the far right-hand corner of the net field and then carrying straight on to cross a stile onto the road.
  2. Turn right on the road and follow it back into Malborough. Cut through the churchyard to walk along Higher Town and back to the car park at the start of the walk.

All Saints Church is sometimes known as 'The Cathedral of the South Hams'. The church was one of many along the south coast where a beacon bonfire was lit to raise the alarm when the Spanish Armada was sighted offshore in 1588 (see the Hope Cove, Bolt Tail & Bolberry Down Walk).

Public transport

Bus service 162 between Kingsbridge and Hope Cove, twice a day Monday to Saturday. For details visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

Village Hall Car Park, Malborough, free (Postcode for Sat Navs: TQ7 3BU).

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