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Walking the Jurassic Coast: Branscombe and Beer

May 12, 2011

This week we had a delightful walk from Branscombe to Beer. A beautiful day though, with a head breeze on the last coastal section of chalk and flints. Some very steep climbs, but well worth the effort. I give the route below and recommend it as a good exploration of part of the Jurassic Coast.The Under Hooken from Beer Head

Both Branscombe and Beer were famous haunts of the Devon smugglers, particularly Jack Rattenbury who was born in the later town. He lived long enough to write his memoirs. Many of the hills you will walk across are hollow. The Beer Quarry Caves have been quarried for Beer Stone since Roman times, used in many of our great buildings and cathedrals. A visit to the caves can easily be incorporated into this walk.

You can find a walk taking in the next section of the Jurassic coast (Branscombe westwards) on the “Walks” section of my website www.johnbainbridgewriter.com. If you are feeling energetic the two walks may be combined into one long Jurassic Coast tramp.

The walk starts from the car park at Branscombe village hall, map reference: SY197887. The whole walk is just under eight miles with 1686 feet of climb. Some of the ascents and descents are extremely steep so, unless you are a fellrunner, please take them slowly. There are toilets, pubs and tea-rooms in Branscombe, Branscombe Mouth and Beer.

As always you do the walk at your own risk.  Remember there are many more walks on my website www.johnbainbridgewriter.com

Directions:

1. Leave the car park and turn left. Soon after passing the village hall take a right fork down lane and then path signposted “Branscombe Mouth”. Follow for quarter of a mile, passing on the way the old Town Mill. Continue through the gate and down the path there. When the path widens into a green, take the left fork, following this until the road and part of Branscombe village are reached. Turn hard right up the road marked “Beach”. Continue up this steep hill, passing en route Branscombe’s old Victorian vicarage. At the next junction turn hard left for a few yards and then right up a public footpath signed “Beer Quarry and Beer”.

2. This very steep climb leads to the summit of Stockham’s Hill. Do take it gently. Ignore the two paths that go off to the left and continue to the top of the hill, where a slight swing to the right brings you to a further stile. Cross this and continue along the path following the left hand field edge. At the end of the field is a kissing gate on left. Pass through. Go directly across the field beyond to stile on the opposite side. Cross this and the track beyond, then straight across the next field towards the trees.

3. Cross the stile and take the pleasant woodland path beyond. After a quarter mile, this ends at a gate. Cross the stile just to the right and continue down a track until a country lane is reached. On your right here are the Beer Quarry Caves, which are well worth a visit. Turn left up the lane. After a quarter mile, turn hard right down a public right of way, signposted “Paizen Lane to Beer”. Follow this downhill for a mile until the outskirts of the little town of Beer are reached. Turn left and follow the streets downhill until you reach the sea front. Note the memorial to the artist Hamilton Macallum – a good place to sit and watch the fishing boats.

Ramblers descending to Branscombe Mouth

4. After exploring Beer, take the road nearest to the sea, called Common Lane, as it climbs steeply westwards out of the town. At the top, as a car park hoves into view, turn left on to the coast path (it swings left towards the cliffs after 200 yards). Now simply follow the very well waymarked coast path some two miles to Branscombe Mouth, passing en route the great chalk cliffs of Beer Head. (After a mile, just past a bench, you have the opportunity to descend the cliffs to the great landslip of the Under Hooken as an alternative to the clifftop walk – both routes are superb – just follow the footpath signs to Branscombe Mouth).

5. When Branscombe Mouth is reached, cross the brook and walk up to the Sea Shanty, a combination of pub, cafe and shop. Immediately past the shop, turn right along a path for Branscombe. Keep left at the next three junctions. This path, just under a mile, takes you back to the start of the walk.

There are a lot more walks ideas on my website: www.johnbainbridgewriter.com

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