Snaking all the way around the peninsula from Minehead to Poole, the South West Coast Path is 630 miles of pure unadulterated seaside porn. Loads of intrepid sorts set themselves the challenge of walking the whole thing. Of course we chose one rainy November Sunday to take on the short 2 mile section from Beesands to Start Point (and back again).
Decent parking, a not half bad pub – if you’re really really into cricket – and a cracking seafood ex-shack*, Beesands is the quintessential seaside village bordering a beautiful stretch of pebble beach.
Park along the sea wall and head out towards the coastal path at the southern end of the village. The path winds its way up behind the furthermost houses up onto the cliff top. Follow the undulating path along to Hallsands – the ruins of an old fishing village that fell into the sea and a stark reminder that humans shouldn’t really dick about with nature. Not even to build a naval dockyard up the coast. There’s a viewing platform from which to look down on the eerie wreckage and learn a little more about 1917’s not so natural disaster.
Cross Hallsands North beach, another deliciously British pebble beach surrounded by traditional fishing cottages (and some modern-day monstrosities) before following the SWCP out towards Start Point.
The steep cliffs along this section of path are home to some of the hardiest sheep I’ve met which makes this a pretty walk but a tough one to navigate with two spaniels and a half collie desperate to get herding. Unless you can stake your soul on your dog being the ultimate vegetarian pacifist without a secret penchant for cliff diving, you’re going to want to make sure you’re armed with leads and Popeye arms.
It’s a dramatic but ultimately straightforward stroll with the lighthouse sitting at the end of a mile of exposed peninsula as a constant signpost. There is a visitor centre if you’re interested in the history – check the opening times here to avoid bitter disappointment.
Definitely not one of the most adventurous sections of the coast path but still stunning to look at and a perfect lazy weekend mooch. Devon eh? She sure is pretty.
*as in it started life as a shack, not currently a shack full of your exes but I guess that could be fun too….