East Soar to Overbeck's walk

East Soar car park, near Malborough, Devon

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
This stretch of coast played an important role in the Second World War © National Trust

This stretch of coast played an important role in the Second World War

Explore the South West countryside with our collection of one mile walks © Simon Hill

Explore the South West countryside with our collection of one mile walks

Overbeck's is surrounded by exotic plants © Andrew Butler

Overbeck's is surrounded by exotic plants

Route overview

This walk takes you along the runway of what used to be RAF Bolt Head. With panoramic views of the South Hams coast and countryside, the walk leads to Overbeck’s, an elegant Edwardian house with a hidden paradise of subtropical gardens and eclectic collections.

  • Grade of walk: Easy
  • Type of walk: 'Beautiful Views'

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map of the Soar to Overbecks walk in Devon
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: East Soar National Trust car park, grid ref: SX713375

  1. From the car park, go through the gate to the left of East Soar Farm. From there follow the signposts for Overbeck's.

  2. Follow the track that borders the former RAF Bolt Head airstrip until it bends round to the right, where you'll see a gate and signpost.

    Show/HideRAF Bolt Head airfield

    Imagine what it was like here during the Second World War. Barracks, hangers, offices and stores lay in the fields to your left. Fighter planes such as the Spitfire and Lysander landed and took off from the airstrips. The site was at its height during 1944 in the build up to the D-Day landings of 6 June. The adjacent radar station, RAF Hope Cove, was used until 1957 when it became a South West regional seat of government in case of nuclear war until the 1990s.

    This stretch of coast played an important role in the Second World War © National Trust
  3. Pass through the gate and cross the fields heading towards the next gate.

    Show/HideThe secret bunker

    The grey concrete cube is the regional government HQ 7.2. Built during the early 1950s, it was officially known as a radar station but it was in fact a nuclear bunker. The bunker was designed to hold 150 staff including cabinet ministers, members of the emergency services, scientists and communications experts. Together they would have assumed regional control of the South West until central government was able to recover. The bunker is encased in one metre thick walls. It had its own filtered ventilation, water and sewerage systems.

    Explore the South West countryside with our collection of one mile walks © Simon Hill
  4. After the gate turn left and then right, continuing to follow the signs for Overbecks.

  5. Keep walking down the hedgerow path until you reach a stile and gate. Cross the stile, go through the gate and walk straight ahead, following the woodland path.

  6. As you turn the corner you should see several tree stumps if you stand on these, you can just see the sub-tropical garden at Overbecks below and the view across to Salcombe beyond.

  7. The walk finishes outside the Overbeck's entrance gates. Do come in, get some refreshments, and enjoy everything Overbeck's has to offer. There's a children's trail to accompany this walk.

    Show/HideDevon's banana crop

    Overbeck's House and Gardens sit high above the sea overlooking miles of coastline and with spectacular views across the Salcombe estuary. It's a great walk for plant people. The local warm micro-climate allows Mediterranean type plants, rarely found growing outside in Britain, to flourish here. Meandering pathways to banana and palm gardens lead away from the Edwardian villa, which contains a museum based on the collections of Otto Overbeck. It's now part of a YHA hostel. Originally called Sharpitor, the house and gardens were donated to us on condition that the site was renamed after its last owner.

    Overbeck's is surrounded by exotic plants © Andrew Butler
  8. We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk

End: East Soar National Trust car park, grid ref: SX713375

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 1.2 mile (1.9km) approx.
  • Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
  • OS Map: Landranger 202
  • Terrain:

    This walk takes you to the National Trust's Overbeck's, on a waymarked route. The walk follows a flat gravelled track and crosses a grassy field. The last five minutes of the walk follow a woodland path that slopes gently downhill. Dogs are welcome for part of the walk but please keep on a lead. We regret that dogs are not permitted into Overbeck's garden.

  • How to get here:

    By bus: Stagecoach X64 from Kingsbridge/Totnes, alight at Malborough then walk 2 miles (3.2km), following signs for Soar

    By train: Totnes, 19 miles (30.5km)

    By car: Turn right from the Kingsbridge to Salcombe road (A381) into Malborough. Follow signs to Soar and take left fork when you come to final unsigned junction

  • Facilities:

    • National Trust Car park at East Soar (free for members)
    • Information point in car park
    • Refreshments, toilets and baby facilities at Overbeck's (National Trust)
    • Refreshments, toilets and small play area at Walkers' Hut (East Soar Outdoor Experience - NT tenant)
    • Toilets at South and North Sands (not National Trust)

  • Contact us