route diagram

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The Walk

This first part of the Devon Coast to Coast walk was originally a personal invention. It was designed to link the coast path at Plymouth with the start of the Two Moors Way at Ivybridge, making use of the footpath network. My first investigations proved that it was too much for one day and I broke it into two parts, divided  at Yealmpton. Getting to the start at Turnchapel involved a bus ride from Plymouth as there was no ferry crossing, and the walk itself was beset by obstructions and routefinding problems.

Within the last couple of years, however, things have changed for the better. Firstly, a new ferry service is in operation between the Barbican and Mountbatten Point, next to Turnchapel. Secondly, and more importantly, a new trail – the Earme-Plym Link – has been introduced to link Plymouth with Ivybridge. Remarkably it almost coincides with my original route as far as Yealmpton. It is well maintained and waymarked, and as a result the previous problems no longer exist.

The day’s walk, therefore, begins with a ferry crossing from Plymouth to Mountbatten Point. From there it follows the coast path for two miles to Bovisand Bay, at which point it turns inland to Staddiscombe. For the rest of the day it follows the Earme – Plym Link through a world of villages, fields, pastures and unfrequented back lanes, brushing the sea for the final time at the head of Cofflette Creek. If you’ve been following the coast path up to this point then inland walking can be a bit of a culture shock, and the left turn at Bovisand Bay is a significant psychological milestone. The walk is hillier than you might expect, and though the distance seems modest the gradients and accumulated ascent make it enough for one day for most walkers. Yealmpton has an hourly bus service back to Plymouth.

Walk Statistics:
Length: 9.85 miles / 15.8 km
Total ascent: 1823 ft / 578 m
Total descent: 1754 ft / 556 m
Estimated time: 3 hrs 49 mins

Map:  OS 1:25000 Outdoor Leisure 20 (South Devon)

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Turnchapel (Mountbatten Point)

View across the Plym and arrival at Mountbatten

We'll assume that you're starting off from Plymouth. Get yourself to the Mayflower steps and then take the coast road south for a couple of hundred metres to find the ramp heading down to the ferry embarkation point. Look out for the orange boats of Mountbatten Ferries, who run a frequent passenger service. It's just a few hundred metres across the mouth of the river Plym to Mountbatten Point, just beside Turnchapel.

The environs of Mountbatten Point

Plymouth and the Mountbatten breakwater

The Mountbatten landing stage is brand new and cost several hundred thousand pounds to build. In fact most of what you see at Mountbatten is the result of a large scale and recent refurbishment. Adjacent to the landing stage is a cluster of smart new buildings, including a watersports centre. When I first came here in 1994 the whole area was a building site, including the Mountbatten breakwater itself. The only old building to be seen is the ancient gun tower up on the ridge. You can walk out along the breakwater if you wish; it dates from 1874 when it was constructed to protect the Plym estuary from rough water, and was refurbished along with the rest of the area in the 1990s.

The ridge behind Mountbatten point

Climb the steps to the ridge behind the landing stage. There's a little area of heath with a lookout and some seats, and from here you get a good view across Jennycliff Bay to Rams Cliff, as well as back across the Plym to Plymouth. Turnchapel itself lays over to the east. There is a former RAF station here which was a base for a flying boat squadron, and the guidebooks tell us that T E Lawrence (a.k.a Lawrence of Arabia) was one of the airmen stationed there during the 1930s. Nearer to us is another cluster of smart new buuildings, including several residential blocks. The coast path makes use of this new development and in fact no longer visits the original Turnchapel. Go down the slope, stay coastwards of the car park  and walk along the short stretch of road (note the gleaming steel railings) to the residential area beyond.

The new part of Turnchapel

Go off to the right at the obvious coast path marker just south of this new stretch of road. A path winds its way up the slope through heathland scenery, passing close to a number of new houses. Shortly afterwards it disgorges you out onto the vast sward of grass that fronts Jennycliff Bay.

The route through the new part of Turnchapel, approaching Jennycliff Bay

Jennycliff Bay

Looking back;  Jennycliff Bay

This is Jennycliff Field, a public open space. It is extensive, it's dotted with clusters of shrubs and bench seats, and is popular. In the midst of the field is a cafe, which  I've frequented more than once. Views across Plymouth Sound and back to Plymouth are superb. The road is to your left, and ahead of you at the top of the hill is yet another huge military fort, that of Staddon Heights.

Jennycliff Field

The clusters of vegetation serve to subdivide Jennycliff Field into several small pastures. Make your way steadily south, heading for the far southwest corner. The coast path followed the road at one time but off-road provision has recently been made and a new path winds along the slopes of Ramscliff, up ahead. At the apex of the field find a path through a short run of heathland vegetation leading to a smaller and rougher field beyond, and cross this in turn to a gate and stile at the far end. We've walked about a mile from Turnchapel now and are just below Staddon Heights Farm up by the road to our left. There's a coast path marker here telling you that it's 175 miles to the end of the south west coast path in Poole, Dorset. Fortunately we turn off in just over half a mile. You will also find a novely "welcome mat" here for walkers coming the other way, that invites visitors to Plymouth to wipe their feet.

South end of Jennycliff Bay, the coast path marker and the welcome mat

Here we leave the City of Plymouth and enter the district of South Hams. Now the rollercoaster of the coast path begins anew. This stretch is a little taxing in fact, and has quite a number of steep rises and falls early on. After the biggest dip it enters woodland and is carried up the last gradient by a series of steps.

The woodland path on the slopes of Rams Cliff

This seems like along half mile but it's a delightful one. The path settles down to a more level course and threads its way through the thick woodland around Ramscliff Point. Numerous clearings allow superb views out across Plymouth sound and back to the city.

The coast path at Rams Cliff and views out across Plymouth Sound


The approach to Bovisand Point

The coast path runs around Ramscliff Point, gradually cutting off views of Plymouth. The woodland falls away and now you see Staddon Point not far ahead, the site of Bovisand Fort. Just up the slope to your left is an enclosed military communications site and up on top of the cliff is Brownhill Battery. These are the last of the many military sites and bases that surround Plymouth.

Bovisand fort and bay

Bovisand Fort appears to be very much in use. The coast path drops quite steeply to it and then turns sharply right, doglegging around the perimiter and then crossing a steep sided coombe by a smart new footbridge. Here you're outwith the environs of the base and you follow a short stetch of path, still hemmed on by vegetation, down to a road.

The coast path approaches Bovisand Bay

A look back across and beyond Bovisand Fort is rewarding, for here we're almost end-on to Plymouth Bar at the edge of Plymouth Sound. The sands of Bovisand Bay appear down to your right, with the holiday village and the slopes leading up to Andurn Point beyond.

Bovisand Bay

The road swings uphill to Staddon Heights while a lesser track gives access to the Bovisand Lodge caravan park. Take this lesser track for a short distance then find a path to your right that takes you down to Bovisand Bay just behind the beach.

The final section of coast path

Just short of the footbridge across the stream issuing into Bovisand Bay you'll find a fingerpost at a path junction. This, a simple an unassuming place, represents a major psychological turning point. Here, after roughly 155 miles of coast path, we turn inland. Here we say goodbye to the familiar world of cliffs and coves, the ever present vista of the sea to our right, and turn instead to a diet of farm tracks and field paths and stretches of woodland and quiet back lanes. And here we leave behind the certainties of the route (blue bit to the right, green bit to the left) and from here on we have to keep a close eye on the map and navigate by field boundaries.

Turn left, then, for the lane to Staddiscombe, and say goodbye to the coast. We're setting out to cross Devon, and thence Somerset, to reach the north coast of the southwest peninsula at Porlock. It's 109 miles and nine days walk ahead. But let's think, immediately, of Staddiscombe.

Staddiscombe Lane by the lodge

Bovisand Lane runs, pretty nearly dead straight, through a ribbon of woodland accompanying the apparently nameless stream that runs down into the bay. Initially it runs alongside the caravan park at there is a moment of confusion as it converges with the vehicle track that we left some ten minutes back. The lodge, a handsome white building, stands to your right and there are a couple of cottages nearby. Find the continuation of the footpath and follow it, into the copse. Within a couple of minute all habitation has been left behind.

Bovisand Lodge

Now just follow the footpath through the wood. It gets a bit rough, narrow and wet in places. Be prepared for mud, stones, tree roots and running water. But it's a peaceful  place, a place to linger and look out for wildlife. It runs very gradually uphill for about one kilometre before coming out onto a road.

Bovisand Lane


Joining the road at the top of Bovisand Lane; looking back at Plymouth Sound

You've arrived at Little Lane, 306 ft above sea level. The lane comes in from the Staddon Heights road over to your left and here turns a sharp corner to head into Staddiscombe, straight ahead. Another foorpath goes off to your right here, and offers the only opportunity hereabouts for a sit-down break. Behind you a surprisingly small wedge of sea can be seen at the foot of the valley.

Looking back at Plymouth sound again

The road to Staddiscombe

Now take the road straight ahead into Staddiscombe. The lane is narrow and steep-sided, typical of Cornwall and southwest Devon, but fortunately traffic is light and you reach the village in just ten minutes. Staddiscombe is built around a square of roads and onve you reach the first junction you could choose to go right- left or left-right to reach the other corner; in my opinion you see the best of the village by choosing the latter option. You've just crossed briefly back into the City of Plymouth once again, and in fact a glance at the map reveals Staddiscombe as an isolated pocket of tranquilty on the edge of the sprawling housing estates of Plymstock, down to your left.

Staddiscombe village

If you want to break the jorney here then simply walk down into Plymstock by road or footpath and you'll soon find the bus route. Otherwise, having wandered through the village to the far crossroads, go back southwest for a few paces and then find the footpath to Hollacombe off to your left. My photographic record ends here for the present.

The footpath to Hollacombe initially follows a farm track, then a fieldside path, and then crosses a corner of a cropped field. This is where I first came to grief in my initial exploration in 1994 because the cross-field path was not then viable. Hopefully, with the advent of the Earme-Plym Trail, things have improved. Keep an eye on the map here because the line of thin black dashes marking the line of the physical path is at variance with the bold green dashes that mark the theoretical right of way. The path reaches the far edge of the field by a junction of field boundaries, and continues into the next enclusure where it goes down into a dip and crosses a stream. Beyond the stream continue in the same general direction across another field to reach a second field corner. From here walk along the field edge, keeping the boundary to your right, to reach the ridgeline of Hollacombe Hill. When you reach the next field the path diverges from the field edge to cross diagonally to the far corner, where you come to a road at the southern edge of Hollacombe.


Once you reach the road turn sharp left, back into the village. Go half left again at the road junction and walk on for a further 100 metres to find a footpath down into the wood to your right. The path generally follows the line of a shallow dip as far as the eastern edge of the wood, where you come out onto a grassy pasture. This was another routefinding nightmare back in 1994 as the line of the path was anything but obvious. It's now shown crossing a steam and heading straight for the far northeastern corner of the pasture, leaving a large barn to the right, but older maps will show the footpath heading straight through this barn and then running about 100 metres south of a parallel farm track out to Spriddlestone. This is, in a word, WRONG. The right of way now follows the sensible course, along the farm track to the northeast alongside Knapps Wood. After about 800 metres you emerge at the tiny locality of Spriddlestone.


Blink and you'll miss it. I remember Spriddlestone as a handful of cottages, mainly hidden behind tall, dense hedges. You emerge at a T-junction. Go to your right, but in about 100 metres look out for a footpath off to the left, accessed by a little stone stairway half hidden in the hedge. A field edge path, a cross-field path and a track  brings you out onto the access road to Tor Hill Farm, and just beyond the convergence you go round a right-hand bend to reach the head of Cofflete Creek.

Cofflete Creek is a tributary of the Yealm river, which the coast path crosses some three miles to the south via the passenger ferry at Newton Ferrers. The head of the creek is an unlovely place, a confusion of rough grasses and reeds that offers nowhere to park yourself for a refreshment break. Follow the roadway around the head of the creek. Having curved around almost to the south, this road now doubles back on itself with a tight bend to the left, thence bending right again to cross the route of an abandoned mineral railway to head towards Brixton.

This lane, like several in this area, is surfaced yet is so narrow that one wonders what vehicles could possibly negotiate it; your average family car would have no chance. After some 200 metres a footpath appears, running parallel to the road on its southern side. Given that the lane is virtually devoid of traffic and that the footpath is poor, you might as well stay on the hard surface. It will get you to Brixton with less hassle.


At the junction with the driveway to Coflflette Farm our lane turns left, running uphill to reach the main A379 road at Combe on the western edge of Brixton. Turn right and walk along the roadside. The Earme - Plym Link now goes out on a diversion to the north, turning left along a back road for half a kilometre before coming back into Brixton along a footpath, but to me this is a pointless excursion; you are better off, in my opinion, walking directly along the road. Look our for the point at which the road bends to the right, just before the church; at this bend take the minor road straight ahead. This goes across a junction into a residential road. At the far end of this road head off across the pasture in the same general direction.

This was another profoundly confusing area back in 1994 and I'm hoping that thngs have improved with the coming of the Earme-Plym Link. You need to hit the eastern edge of the pasture about 100 metres south of a copse of trees. Once into the next pasture go half left to pass the southeast corner of this copse, and then go slightly further to the left to head the northeast corner of the enclosure, where you come out to a junction of tracks. Go half right to take the track leading east., which gets you to Scotch Fir Plantation. Go around the northern edge of this wood as far as a hedge, beyond which you go half left, across the pasture and over the shoulder of a slight rise. You're heading for the northeast corner of Gorlofen Plantation. The path runs alongside the northern edge of a limb of this wood before reaching the main body of the trees and running through the middle. The map shows the Earme-Plym link veering off onto a minor path going half left, and subsequently reaching the road at Gorlofen; be sure to take this for the track runs into a dead end further down.


Turn right onto the road and head through the scattered locality of Gorlofen to the east. You pass a road junction and then start heading downhill. About 300 metres beyond the junction you need to find and follow a footpath heading off to the right; it's heading directly for Yealmpton, which you can see about half a mile ahead, nestling within the shallow Yealm valley. It's a simple cross-field path at first; head for the western edge of Cole Hill Plantation then walk alongside it to the southwest corner. Your route into Yealmpton is now pretty obvious, mostly by a short series of field-edge paths. There's a dogleg right-and-left just short of Bowden Farm which gets you onto a track that comes out into Yealmpton's northernmost residential road. The official route of the Earme-Plym Link now backtracks to the west for a couple of hundred metres but there is a choice of routes and you may as well please yourself; the objective is the crossroads in the centre of the village.

Here's where the day's walk ends. The building on the southest corner of the crossroads was once a cafe that provided a welcoming end to the day's walk; alas, it's now closed. Just to your right, on the south side of the A379, is the bus stop; there's an hourly service back to Plymouth.

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This page last updated 5th March 2008