Things to do in Branscombe
The shingle beach at Branscombe is part of the Jurassic Coast, but Branscombe has more than just the beach to explore. Discover the 18th-century forge and Manor Mill, restored and in full working order.
Please note there is no lifeguard stationed at Branscombe beach.
The beach at Branscombe
On reaching the end of the steep valleys of Branscombe by foot or by car, you will arrive at Branscombe Mouth, a shingle beach which forms part of the East Devon and Dorset Jurassic Coast.
Stretching over a mile, the beach offers beautiful views of the Jurassic cliffs on either side of the valley, and is a popular starting point for walks on the coast path. Close by to the east is Beer, and slightly further to the west is Sidmouth.
The long beach offers plenty of room for families to visit and enjoy the coast. Children can rock-pool or skim the smooth pebbles underfoot. The sea at Branscombe is also perfect for paddling. For the more adventurous, why not take a dip?
The Seashore Code
Remember to follow the Seashore Code and help keep Branscombe a special place for you and the wildlife that makes a home here.
- Handle me with care: Poking or squeezing soft-bodied animals like sea anemones can harm them.
- Buckets: Keep one animal at a time in your bucket and not for too long – sea creatures get stressed too!
- No nets: Use a bucket and your hands to catch rock pool creatures rather than a net. Nets can rip seaweed off the rocks and animals like crabs can lose their legs and claws if they get tangled up in it.
- Don’t make me homeless: Only collect empty shells.
- Put me back: Always replace animals, rocks and seaweed as you found them.
- Hey! I’m down here! Watch where you walk – you can easily dislodge or crush small sea creatures.
- I don’t like litter: Take your rubbish home – litter is a killer.
- Look after yourself: Branscombe is a wonderful place but be careful – the rocks can be slippery, the cliffs are high and the tides change quickly.
Please note: the beachside car park is not operated by the National Trust, and charging applies 24 hours a day. There is another small car park, which only has 6 spaces, near the Old Forge which is free for National Trust members. This car park is often full. Alternative parking is available next door in the village hall car park. Please place a donation in the well.
Branscombe Forge was built in the 18th century and is believed to be the oldest thatched working forge in the county. For over 300 years generations of blacksmiths have toiled over red-hot metal at Branscombe Forge while carrying out their daily work.
The Forge provides an insight into the old village economy. After deciding to settle, villagers would have built up a self-sustainable place to live. It is likely that settlers chose this area due to the fishing potential.
Over the centuries the stone walls and thatched roof of the building have provided blacksmiths with shelter and much needed protection from the elements while performing their craft.
Blacksmiths still work at Branscombe forge using traditional methods to create both practical and artistic works available for purchasing in the showroom which is open all year. If you are lucky, you will see the resident blacksmith at work in the Forge.
Manor Mill - recently conserved.
Look out for spring reopening.
In the heart of Branscombe is Manor Mill.
Standing since the 19th century, the National Trust has kept the Mill in full working order for everyone to enjoy.
Nestled into the valley, the Mill draws water from the nearby leat to turn its huge wheel. Visitors can try their hand at turning cogs on a miniature quern, and learn all about life as a miller.
The Mill was used up until just before the Second World War. It’s likely that Manor Mill would have once provided the flour for the whole village, but it fell into disrepair after the war.
Many of its mechanics and workings were left in place, and the National Trust carefully restored many of the parts during the 1990s.
More recently, this year, the Trust has undertaken a project to conserve the working order of the waterwheel and the internal mechanisms of the Mill.
A team of specialist Millwrights removed and replaced the launder (a wooden trough that directs water over the top of the waterwheel) and the wooden shaft which runs through the centre of the waterwheel, supporting its weight and connecting the wheel to the primary drive (the pit wheel and cast-iron gear).
Because of this restoration, the mill has been returned to full working order once more.
The Old Bakery
Situated in the village of Branscombe in a wooded valley, the Old Bakery is a stone-built and partially rendered thatched building.
Under the thatched eaves of this former traditional bakery, you'll discover the old bread oven and proving trough. A collection of tins, dishes and measuring scales used by the last bakers are displayed in the rooms. Scrapbooks and old photographs tell the story of the Collier Brothers, the bakers, and the simple process of how bread was made here.
Today, the Old Bakery operates as a tea-room.
Please check the opening times section of the website for up to date information.
From 19th century smuggling to cliff farming on the Weston Plats, there is plenty of history at Branscombe. More recent history includes the salvaging of the Napoli in 2007.