A Mostly Level Walk from Budleigh Salterton to Exmouth and returning via the old railway cycle trail
Map OS Explorer 115 – Exmouth & Sidmouth. 1:25000.
Time: 4 hours. About 8 miles
Grade: Moderate with walking on coastal footpath, tracks and old railway cycle path.
Start in the free Public Car Park in Budleigh Salterton (GridRef 060 821) and leaving the park turn right to the High Street. Over the road, right and then left up Victoria Place. Bit of uphill then up the steps and out into Jubilee Field. Follow the hedge on the left and then on to the glorious coast path.
Follow the ups and downs of the coast path for quite some way but don’t forget to take time to look back at a fabulous Jurassic coastline. Soon, following the line of the coast, you will start to drop down to the caravan park that has been visible for some time. Beware of a very crumbling cliff but have a peek down into Littleham Cove (information board here). Again follow through the campsite keeping to the coastline and come to the Straight Point Military Camp. This is used for target shooting at times and can be a bit distracting. On down to the camp shop and toilets (not always open in Winter). Weave your way through the camp staying on the left and following the sea to climb up on to the National trust land - High Land of Orcombe. Passing over Orcombe Point and passing the Geometric Needle follow the well-surfaced path to drop down to the Exmouth seafront. Down a sloping zigzag path to the road on the front (or, if you take a higher route you will emerge in the car-park) and then right along the pavement to the car park on your right. Maybe a good place for a picnic lunch on the beach (or, in the season in the beach café).
Suitable refreshed and maybe having had a wander over to the lifeboat station, leave the car park by the far right hand corner, turning right up Maer Lane. Stay on this road for some way and at Maer Farm turn left down what can be a slightly muddy track. Over a stile and follow the hedge on your right down to a bridge over a stream. Up the field and exit via a gate on your right to follow the track up to a junction. Right here and follow the lovely secluded track – may be a few fallen trees to circumnavigate – keeping travelling in same direction to emerge into open field via a metal gate. Aim across the field toward the farm and move right around the farm and via a number of metal gates eventually exit via a wooden gate into another open field. Follow the hedge on your left and exit via metal gate on to short track leading to small housing close. Right and into the Littleham Churchyard. Bit of history here – to the right and under a tree the tomb of Viscountess Nelson (long-suffering wife of Horatio!). Good place for a coffee stop and, if open, the Church is a beautiful place to have a look around).
Make your way to the path behind the tower and follow it to the wall and gate. Rather than exiting via the gate, move left up through the churchyard to meet the main cemetery. A huge place but not unattractive. Exit via the gateway at the top left-hand corner and drop down on to the old railway cycle track. Easy walking now and chance to dwell on what might have been if more old lines had been preserved for recreational purposes. In sight of the old brick bridge leave the track via Castle Lane on the right and meet the road. Right along the road and very soon left up what looks like a drive. It probably is but not to worry; almost immediately turn right on the footpath signed “West Down Beacon and Coastal Path “ This is a beautiful leafy track going between two parts of the golf course. Soon you come to a sign to the left showing “Littleham Church Path “. Take this, crossing the golf course and exit via a gate into open pasture. Stay on the well-defined grass track over the fields and on the “Littleham Church path” to exit via a metal gate and drop down into the woods. Amble in the same line through the woods to eventually meet a busy road. This is the main road into Budleigh and you need to follow it to the right all the way back to the traffic lights but take care and use pavements as available on either side of the road. Left at the lights and so back to your start point in the car park.
There are numerous coffee houses in the main street so well-earned refreshment may be found!Chris Harwood Jan 2012