Walk - Bantham to Thurlestone

3.8 miles (6.2 km)

Bantham Beach Car Park - TQ7 3AJ Bantham Beach Car Park

Moderate - Fairly even Coast Path, surfaced road, fields and footpath.

With its sandy beach and clean surf, as well as its delightful views across the water to Burgh island, Bantham is a popular hideaway holiday spot for the rich and famous. Some of the thatched cottages in the picturesque villages en route date from the sixteenth century, and there are tales of Vikings and smugglers, but archaeologists have found that the settlements here go right back to the Stone Age. A good walk in spring, when the bright air is full of the song of newly-arrived migrants such as stonechats and wheatears, and colonies of fulmars nest above the shoreline. In autumn look out for the arrival of the winter residents, such as plovers, and unusual gulls, especially on a windy day. It is a delightful walk for children, who will love the beach and the dunes. 

Thurlestone 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.

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.

Heart and Sole Wellbeing

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

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.

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.

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 Old Post Office, South Milton

The Old Post Office is a small friendly B&B with a big welcome for walkers and families in a great location close to the 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.

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.

Ocean Reach

Luxury holiday homes with 360-degree coastal & countryside views. Restaurant & Bar.Food locally sourced, cooked and presented to the highest standard.

Ashleigh House, Kingsbridge

Ashleigh House is a 7 Bedroom 4* Victorian B&B with parking, used by walkers as a base for 2-4 day walks using local buses and taxis. There are good Restaurants, Pubs and Shops within walking distance of the house.

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.

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 Bantham Sands car park take the road towards the beach, forking left at the bottom to go through the kissing gate and onto the South West Coast Path. Follow the path around the rocky point and on along the clifftop past the golf course.
  2. Ignore the paths heading inland across the golf course to carry on around Warren Point above the small Leas Foot Sand beach at Thurlestone. Coming to the lane heading inland above the beach, turn left to follow it past the golf clubhouse and on to the road.

In the bay below, the rock arch was first recorded in the ninth century, but is thought to have stood here for much longer. It was formed by wave erosion, after the crashing surf exploited a weakness in the cliffs to create a sea cave. Over time the pressure that built up in the cave as the waves washed around it caused the roof to fall in, and Thurlestone Rock was formed. It was originally known as the 'thirled stone', from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'hole'. The arch is of New Red Sandstone, a sedimentary rock laid down in a desert in the Permian period, some 250-300 million years ago.

  1. Turn left on the road and walk through Thurlestone, past the tennis courts, to the war memorial on your left.
  2. Turn left immediately beyond the memorial, in front of the church, and then take the track on the right. Walk past the churchyard to continue along the path to the left of the hedge. Follow the left-hand hedge in the next two fields, going through the hedge towards the end of the second to cut across the right-hand corner and bear right along the open ground ahead, descneding steeply to join the track at the bottom.
  3. Follow this track along the right-hand hedge to cross the field, heading for the far right-hand corner. Go onto the lane in the corner and follow it gently uphill, to come out in Bantham, by the fourteenth-century Sloop Inn.

The village hit national headlines in November 2013, when it was announced that 750 acres in and around it were to be sold, including more than 20 cottages. Owned by the Evans Estate, whose fortune was made in coal-mining, Bantham was one of a number of properties to be put on the market by the Evans family, including some in Wales and Dorset. The price tag for the whole lot was rumoured to be around £35 million.

The village was once the haunt of notorious smuggler Nat Cleverly, who plied his trade between here and Roscoff. The houses in the village were called ‘smuggler’s eyes’, and most of the community was involved in the 'free trade'. When Cleverly was caught by the Revenue men, the magistrate to try his case was one of his best customers and was pleased to return a 'not guilty' verdict!

  1. Turn left on the road to walk down towards the beach car park. Walking past the path to the ferry landing, fork right beyond it to walk through the dunes around the tip of Bantham Ham and back along the beach to the car park.

People have lived on the headland at Bantham Ham since prehistoric times. Artefacts found here include a polished stone axe from the Neolithic (Late Stone Age) period, arrowheads from the Bronze Age, and Iron Age pottery. Archaeologists have found pottery and bone fragments showing that it was an important settlement in Roman times.

Spindle whorls and bone combs have also been found here, dating from between the fourth and seventh centuries AD. Sometime during this period there was a temporary encampment at Bantham, with rough shelters and hearths, and a seasonal trading market. Other exciting finds from this time include iron smithing hearths, as well as Cornish pottery, amphorae (vases) from the Eastern Mediterranean, and North African tableware.

In the ninth century there was a Viking raid, one of several on Devon's south coast, but at Bantham there was fierce resistance and the Danes were all killed in battle. Later, the area around the car park was used for growing crops, and the strip lynchets (terraces) cut into the hillside for this can still be seen to the north of the parking area. There is also a remnant corn ditch.

Public transport

Bus service 162 between Kingsbridge and Thurlestone. From the bus stop in Thurlestone, walk 50 metres to the war memorial opposite the church, and pick up the route there. 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 at Bantham Beach (Postcode for Sat Navs: TQ7 3AJ).

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