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24 September 2014

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You are in: Devon > Places > Walks > Butterflies and Buttercups

The view towards Sidmouth

The view towards Sidmouth

Butterflies and Buttercups

This six mile walk in East Devon takes in the World Heritage coastline, valleys and woodland - as well as the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary. We did the walk in midsummer, when the wildlife was at its most colourful.

This is a challenging walk (to say the least!), but well worth the effort for the sea views on offer and the sights and sounds of wildlife in the woodlands and valleys.

The circular-ish walk starts at the National Trust's Salcombe Hill car park, and takes you eastwards along the so-called "Jurassic Coast," then inland through a valley to the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary, down to Salcombe Regis, and through the woods back to the car park.

It's about six miles long, and takes in quite a few steep hills. We stopped for a quick bite to eat along the way at the Donkey Sanctuary, so the walk in total took three-and-a-half hours. The minimum time the walk would take is around two-and-a-half hours.

We did the walk on a hot day in June, and were rewarded by the abundance of flowers and summer creatures on view. There were butterflies and buttercups all along the route, and everywhere was green.

We even came across a snake of some description at one point, but he scurried away into the undergrowth as soon as he saw us.

The first section of the walk:
The beach at Weston Mouth

The beach at Weston Mouth

From the car park, which is opposite the Norman Lockyer Observatory on the Sidmouth to Salcombe Regis road, follow the sign to the coast path. From here, you get a great view down the coast towards Sidmouth.

Follow the coast path through Southcombe Farm until you reach steps which take you down the hill to Salcombe Mouth (we were informed by some people coming up that there are 92 steps!).

Keep on the coast path and head towards Weston Mouth. Then comes a steep climb on Higher Dunscombe Cliff. At the top there are fantastic sea views eastwards of Weston Beach and up towards Branscombe.

Turn inwards, skirting the edge of a field, still following the signs to Weston Mouth. There is a downhill section here, where you could turn right down to the beach. We stopped to take some photos here, before returning to the route signed to Dunscombe.

Valley views
The valley en route to Dunscombe, with buttercups

The valley was covered with buttercups

This was one of the best bits of the walk - up through a wooded valley flanked by trees on either side and full of colour. The fields had been turned yellow by buttercups, and there were butterflies fluttering all around us.

The donkey sanctuary is signposted, and is well worth a visit. The sanctuary is run by a charity, and is home to donkeys which have been rescued from cruelty or neglect.

We stopped to "chat" to the friendly ones which came to see us, but our favourite donkey was a right misery which totally ignored everyone...then we spotted the name tag - "Grumps."

A walk through the woods

After a late lunch at the sanctuary's cafe, we left via the main exit. Opposite the exit, but just to the left, there is a public footpath to Salcombe Regis. Walk through the first field and then diagonally across the second field to a stile. Turn right down the lane (which has wonderful high hedges on each side) and into Salcombe Regis.

Walk past the Church of St Peter and St Mary, dating back to the 12th century (it was serving afternoon tea in the graveyard when we passed by...), and then follow a public footpath on the right to Sidmouth. This turning is easy to miss, but is opposite Springcombe House.

This lane takes you through woodland, and on the day we did the walk, the route along here was dotted by foxgloves.

The path cuts through a small farm, and immediately after that, follow the upper of two paths. This takes you to the 92 steps, from where you make your way back to the car park.

However, being in adventurous mood (plus we couldn't face the steps!) we climbed up the hill back to the top of the steps.

There is a sort of rough path which you can follow, but be prepared to be cut by thorns and stung by nettles! It's also very, very steep so it's probably safest to use the steps.

Take a look at the photo gallery from this walk, using the link on this page.

last updated: 29/02/2008 at 16:12
created: 22/06/2005

You are in: Devon > Places > Walks > Butterflies and Buttercups

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