Branscombe to Beer coastal walk
Starting in the heart of Branscombe village, this scenic walk through picturesque countryside passes by the historic Forge, Old Bakery and Manor Mill before heading towards Branscombe beach where you can see the 13,500 kilograms (29,800 lb) anchor of the MSC Napoli which grounded on the beach in 2007.
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Follow the coast path up Hooken cliff for fantastic views of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site before exploring the pretty seaside village of Beer. Returning to Branscombe along the famous South West Coast Path, this hike will take you down the Hooken undercliff path which weaves through a 10-acre tract of land with chalk pinnacles on the seaward side that is abundant with wildlife.
National Trust car park, Margells Bridge, Branscombe, grid ref: SY196886
Leave the car park via the steps, cross over the road and take the footpath immediately to the left of the building opposite. Follow the path through the orchard passing the National Trust information room and the Old Bakery tea rooms (open from Easter until late October). Cross over the footbridge and walk straight through the field ahead and over a gated footbridge. Take the path in front you of that follows the leat that provides the water needed to power the Manor Mill grinding stones. At the end of this path go through the two gates in front of you to the Manor Mill (National Trust: Open Sunday afternoons from April to October, and Wednesday afternoons in July and August).
Branscombe was once home to three mills however Manor Mill is the only remaining working mill in Branscombe today. It was renovated by us and grinds grain into animal feed and flour when it opens its doors to the public. The mill is open Sunday afternoons from April to October, and Wednesday afternoons in July and August. Admission: Adult £3, Children £1.50 & free to National Trust members)
Take the steps to the left of Manor Mill (or exit the Manor Mill on the ground floor), walk down the driveway and through the gate on the right to take the surfaced footpath which passes in front of a barn (signposted 'Public Footpath Branscombe Mouth ¾m'). As the path forks, take the path to the right that follows the fence line and passes over a wooden footbridge. Continue along the Branscombe Mouth footpath to the sea front and then take the 'Coast Path Beer 2m' path to the left that passes in front of the Sea Shanty restaurant and the MSC Napoli anchor.
MSC Napoli anchor
On the 18th January 2007 MSC Napoli, a 300yd (275m) long ship carrying 2,323 containers got into difficulty in the English Channel during stormy weather. It was beached at Branscombe to prevent further damage to the ship and minimise pollution to the environment. 114 containers were lost overboard and cargo including BMW motorbikes, car parts, hair products and nappies washed up on the beach. The vessel’s salvage and removal operations costing 50 million pounds were not completed until the 30th July 2009, 924 days after the incident occurred.
Continue following the 'Coast Path Beer 2m' path over the concrete footbridge at the mouth of the river by the interpretation boards and then take the path on the right signposted ‘Coast Path Beer 2m’ up the East Cliff (National Trust). After walking uphill through two fields, follow the ‘Public footpath Hooken cliff ½m Beer 1¾m’ path up a steep set of steps. Upon reaching the top of the steps continue forward to the bench for a rest where you will be rewarded with fantastic views of Branscombe, Sidmouth and the coastline beyond.
Views of the Jurassic coast
Following parts of the famous South West Coast Path, the views of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site cliffs and valleys are not to be missed.
After a short rest, continue along the public footpath towards Beer. Pass through the gated cattle pen and across a field with the remains of the old look out. Follow the footpath along coastline passing through a further two kissing gates before veering to the left as the footpath reaches the bottom corner of the field. Continue along this path passing through another kissing gate before going left along a well-established dirt path that follows the hedge line, and passes through a kissing at the foot of the Beer Head caravan park. At the end of Little Lane Coast Footpath by the HM Coast Guard Beer Station, follow the path signposted ‘Beer 1/3m' down Common Lane into the centre of Beer where you can enjoy an ice cream, Devonshire cream tea or join a mackerel fishing trip (seasonal).
Beer is a pretty little seaside village nestled in Lyme Bay on the 95-mile (!50km) long Jurassic Coast, England’s first natural World Heritage Site. A small fleet of brightly-coloured fishing boats still operates from the shingle beach, whilst the picturesque chalk cliffs protect the cove from prevailing winds - making it an ideal beach for swimming and sunbathing.
After exploring Beer, start your return journey towards Branscombe by walking back up Common Lane and turning left into Little Lane Coast Footpath by the HM Coast Guard Beer Station. Continue following the footpath back towards Branscombe past the bottom of the Beer Head bistro, shop and caravan park to the coast. Follow the South West Coast Path along coastline for approximately ¾ mile (1.2km) and then take the lower path that passes through a kissing gate signposted ‘Coast Path Branscombe Mouth 1m’ to return to Branscombe via the Hooken undercliff path.
The Hooken undercliff footpath
The Hooken Undercliff was formed in 1790 after a dramatic landslip. Today, this 10-acre tract of land with chalk pinnacles on the seaward side is thriving with wildlife.
Follow the undulating footpath along the undercliff and beyond the chalets of the Sea Shanty Caravan park. After passing through the gate next to the cattle grid, follow the concrete drive across the field (signposted 'Coast Path Public Footpath'). At the end of the field continue past the Branscombe Vale Brewery ‘Branoc’ and Great Seaside buildings to the end of the drive. Turn right on to the road and then take the path immediately to the left (in front of a bench by an allotment) which passes through the Monterey Pine woods opposite Great Seaside Bed and Breakfast. Follow the path through the woods bearing off to the right. Climb over the stile and walk across the field and through a gate to rejoin the Branscombe valley path. Turn right onto the path and continue walking ahead passing through the gate next to the barn at the end of the Manor Mill driveway. Continue straight up Mill Lane and turn left before crossing the road to return to the National Trust car park next to the Forge (National Trust).
The Forge and Old Bakery
Branscombe Forge is the only thatched forge currently operating in England. Today visitors to the forge can see the blacksmiths crafting beautiful ironwork over their hot coals and purchase work from the showroom. The Old Bakery situated in the orchard opposite the Forge was the last traditional working bakery in the county when it closed its doors in 1987. The old baking equipment has been preserved in the baking room while the rest of the building now serves as a tea-room.
National Trust car park, Margells Bridge, Branscombe, grid ref: SY196886
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