Jurassic Coast – A Walk From Branscombe
The east Devon village of Branscombe is set in one of the loveliest valleys in England, with steep wooded slopes and peaceful old meadows. I never visit without remembering the writer and naturalist W. H. Hudson, who wrote about the valley in such an evocative way in his classic book Afoot in England.
Branscombe is quite superb for walking, with a considerable number of footpaths, bridleways and green lanes. You can do long walks and short, both inland and along the coastal footpath, part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. The walk given below is a taster for this wonderful landscape.
We walked it yesterday amidst the first bluebells and cowslips. On a beautiful settled Spring morning we walked through woodlands and across clifftops, saw a colony of ravens, their kronking echoing around the cliffs. One of the best walks of the year so far. I commend it to you.
The walk starts from the car park at Branscombe village hall, map reference: SY197887. The whole walk is 7.5 miles with 1240 feet of climb, but you can just do the coastal section, returning the same way from Weston Combe, which brings the walk down to about 6 miles. If you do the longer version the return is along lanes, but they are very quiet and you do get to see the delightful thatched cottages of Branscombe. There are toilets, pubs and tea-rooms in Branscombe. As always you do the walk at your own risk. Enjoy, for this is a walk that will live in your memory!
Remember there are many more walks on my website www.johnbainbridgewriter.com
1. Leave the car park and turn left. Soon after passing the village hall take a right fork lane and then path signposted “Branscombe Mouth”. Keep to the path following the Branscombe Brook as it flows downhill. After half a mile the path crosses the brook by footbridge. 200 yards on watch for the stile high in the hedge on the right. Cross this and climb straight across the field beyond to the right of the cottages. You are now on the coastal footpath. The first half a mile is exceptionally steep so take it slowly. The path levels as the clifftops are reached.
2. Now simply follow the coast path for 2.4 miles until the eastern edge of Weston Combe is reached (Weston Mouth on signposts). This is a delightful section of the ramble, first through glorious woodland, with views back across Branscombe. Then out on to open clifftops. As you emerge from the wooded section look for the earthen banks of Berry Castle, probably an Iron Age hill fort. There are excellent views towards Sidmouth and across much of Lyme Bay, the chalk cliffs of east Devon gradually turning to sandstone.
4. After walking through unspoiled cowslip meadows you arrive, after 2.4 miles, at the steep drop into Weston Combe, with Weston Mouth at the foot of the valley. From here you can either return by the same route, or continue inland to the hamlet of Weston.
5. If you wish to do the latter, turn hard right along the narrow path heading inland along the eastern top of the valley. This path eventually widens and descends to become a wider track. Turn right at the first junction and follow up to the hamlet of Weston. Exit out on to a lane and then turn right. Note the ruins of the old Weston House in the farmyard on your right. Keep on the lane for 1.6 miles (ignore turnings) until a final steep slope brings you down into Branscombe. There is a handy pub at this point! Otherwise turn right and follow the lane down for just under a mile, back to the start of the walk. Mind the traffic, as you admire the ancient thatched cottages and the parish church in its beautiful deep valley setting.