Bigbury on Sea
Bigbury on Sea and Burgh Island are definitely destination stops. There is no way you can just drive through by accident. We visited here around 20 years ago when we did a drive about while staying at Dartmouth. Both are Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Family friendly Bigbury on Sea, has a beach which lends itself to wind surfing, kite surfing, kayaking and paddle boarding. You can hire some of these sailing equipment from Discovery Surf School which is based in the lower carpark, next to the beach. The shallow waters make it a friendlier place to learn how to paddleboard or windsurf. For those younger ones that are not ready for the water there are plenty of rockpools to explore.
Along side the Surf School is the Venus café. In summer you may see a Beach Barista serving coffee at the bottom of the slipway. There is a store in the top carpark called The Bigbury Beach Shop. A café Bigbury Café just above this on the comer of Parker Road. That’s it really, no other shops or stores in Bigbury on Sea.
Fifteen minutes walk to the West you have Challisborough beach. It is in the next bay you will see a Nisa Local Store . This store is situated in the Challaborough Bay Holiday Park which is run by Parkdean Resorts. You will also find a chip shop there called Fryer Tucks, A pub named The Water Front Bar and Restaurant. I am sure that the Park welcomes tourists from next door.
There are Lifeguards on the beach during the months of May to September. Dogs are welcome on the beach but some area’s are restricted during the summer. You will find some toilets in this bottom carpark near the Surf School.
The Sea Tractor
When the tide is in the only way to Burgh Island is by the Sea Tractor. You may be lucky enough to take a ride on the third generation hydraulic Sea Tractor. The only one in the world. Designed in 1969 by Robert Jackson CBE. (a pioneer of the nuclear power station programme in the ’50s) in exchange for a case of champagne and costing £9,000 to build. The Sea Tractor is an historic icon. Recently renovated to her freshly minted state, she is the best way to arrive through the surf to Burgh Island. The Sea Tractor runs for our guests when required. Members of the public can join in the ride and the fare is £2.00 each way. Please note that in adverse weather conditions the Sea Tractor cannot always operate.
Walking routes Bigbury on Sea
The South West Coastal Path runs along/through Bigbury on Sea. It is possible to walk a few miles along this path. To the East and West of you have estuary’s. The River Avon exits on the East side while the River Erme exits on the West side. As you can see from the maps below we chose to walk a few circular walks. The cliffs are quite steep around here so the walking can be quite hard.
Walk 1, Bigbury on Sea to Kingston Circular walk
Head west along the South West Coastal Path towards Challaborough Bay and Challaborough Bay Holiday Park. Climb up your first of the steep hills and admire the views of Burgh Island and the beach below. Continue West and down to the Cove below, Ayrmer Cove which is owned by the National Trust. This is a small beach area but reachable by families with a few beach items and a picnic. This National Trust link takes you to another circular walk from “Ringmore to Aymer Cove Circular”. Back to the walk. Continue along the South West Coastal Path now going up another steep climb and then down again to Wyscombe Beach. For the next hour or so you are going to be going up and down along the path heading towards the mouth of the River Erme.
Follow the path along the estuary towards Wonwell Beach. You will pass a few small beaches along the way. Just before you reach Wonwell beach take a right into Wrinkle Wood. Follow the path towards Furzedown wood sign posted to Kingston. The woods are amazingly colourful especially during late April to May when the Bluebells are out. Leave the woods and travel straight on across a few sign posted fields towards the main road. Its then a right and down into Kingston. We stopped at The Dolphin Inn for a drink and a toilet break. This is the only pub and food stop you will find in the village. They have a nice beer garden and serve food at a reasonable price. The many Google ratings give it good reviews.
We left Kingston heading South down a dead end road. At the end of this road take a left into a small flower meadow and follow the signs to Ringmore. The path is very well sign posted. It will take you through a few fields and on to a valley called Okenbury Plantation. After descending and following the stream you will see an old disused watermill. Continue along the well signposted path up the hill and into Ringmore. Ringmore has a church and a pub (Only pub in the village again) called the Journey’s End Inn. It has good reviews on Google Maps.
Leave Ringmore via The Nook Lane and continue walking across a few fields. You will then descend again to a Valley. We took a right at the bottom and headed through Challaborough Bay Holiday Park. This takes you back to the beach, then it’s left up the hill and back to The start of your walk. Its all quite simple especially the coastal bit. We navigate with an Outdooractive app on the phone or a Viewranger app. Both have Ordnance Survey maps installed we use Google maps for café or Pub reviews. You need to be aware that you may loose Mobile signal every now and again. Download the area you are walking around before you set off. I usually pre plan/ map it just in case. For more serious walking we have a Garmin Satellite.
Distance 9.2 miles Time spent moving 3:55 hours Ascent 1401 feet Descent 1234 feet Avg. speed (throughout time spent moving) 2.4 mph.
Walk 2, Bigbury on Sea coastal walk via Scobbiscombe Farm
This walk takes the same path as walk 1. After Wyscombe Beach at the top of the hill about 500 yards after the stone bench take the permissive path to Scobbiscombe Farm. The farm is a National Trust owned farm in Kingston, near Modbury on the South Devon coast. Aside from the turkeys the Farm is home to a large herd of beef suckler cows, a flock of sheep and a few pigs as well as growing various cereal crops and potatoes.
Follow the path across the fields to the top of the farm and a road. Turn left on the road and walk uphill until you see a road on your right heading down towards a river. It’s a long road, take a right when the tarmac runs out and it turns in to a dirt path. Keep on the path until you join a stream to your left. The stream path takes you back to Wysecombe Beach which you walked on earlier in the day.
Turn left and walk up the hill. Warning, the hill that you came down earlier is steep. Stay on the windy path, do not be tempted to join the easy looking path on your left up the hill. If you do you may regret it as its very steep and goes straight up instead of winding left and right. Continue along the path until you are back in Brigbury on Sea.
Distance 7.1 miles Time spent moving 2:34 hours Ascent 1253 feet Descent 1483 feet Avg. speed (throughout time spent moving) 2.5 mph.
Walk 3, Bigbury on Sea to Bigbury Golf Course Circular
A shorter stroll today which will join the South West Coastal path half way through. This is an easy walk to follow. Leave bigbury on Sea via Parker Road heading North. Enter the field ahead and stay on the path through a few fields, about 4. Join the road named Folly Hill, be careful here as cars speed around the bends. Continue along Folly Hill which bends to the right until you reach the golf course Bigbury Golf Club.
Head South down the road and bear left at the end following the signs to South West Coastal Path. (Do not take the sharp left South West Coastal path as this takes you North) continue south. The path winds around and then drops down to the foreshore and estuary of the River Avon. The tide was out when we walked down. We walked along the beach and re joined the path just below the house with a large garden. Climb the path up to the Farm and then cross the road and enter the field. Turn left and head down the hill back towards the beach and Bigbury on Sea.
Distance 4.3 miles Time spent moving 1:47 hours Ascent 679 feet Descent 804 feet Avg. speed (throughout time spent moving) 2.5 mph
Burgh Island Hotel
Bigbury’s most famous landmark is Burgh Island, which overlooks the beach itself. The island is accessible at low tide, when the waters reveal a causeway that links it to the beach. However, when the tide is in you can still reach the island by hitching a ride on the popular and unique ‘sea tractor’