Take in dramatic cliff top views over Sidmouth and Branscombe on this short circular walk near the Norman Lockyer Observatory.
Starts/Finishes: Salcombe Hill Car Park, Salcombe Hill Road
Terrain: Easy/Moderate – suitable footwear required
Time: 1 hour
Distance: Approx 1.1 miles
This short and fairly level circular walk will take you out to the cliff top of Salcombe Hill where you can take in dramatic, uninterrupted views of Sidmouth, Ladram Bay and beyond or Salcombe and Weston Beach in the opposite direction.
Salcombe Hill makes for a beautiful picnic spot and is a great place for walkers who are finding their feet as you can come back time and time again to try out longer loops and routes as your fitness improves. If you’re feeling like a challenge, walk further east and descend the 92 steps down to the quiet pebble beach of Salcombe Mouth. If you like to feel secluded then it’s certainly worth the effort but remember, you’ll have to climb back up again!
Starting from the car park on Salcombe Hill Road, accessible from the A3052 near the Donkey Sanctuary or by following the signs to the Norman Lockyer Observatory as you come out of Sidford, make your way to the rear left corner of the car park and make your way down the track away from the car park.
Once you reach the T-junction opposite the wooden gate, take the path to the left and continue along through the trees listening to the sound of bird song. After a little while on this path you will notice it begin to go steadily downhill and the path become more rooty – it’s at this point that more suitable walking footwear would be beneficial.
Soon you will see a public footpath sign marked Salcombe Hill Cliff via Frog Stone pointing to your right. Follow this further downhill and through a wooden gate. Once through the wooden gate, you will see a fork in the trail. Take the right fork going uphill and make your way into the field as it begins to open out in front of you. The brambles along here will be full of blackberries towards the end of summer!
The coastline on your left will soon come into view as you go further towards the cliff edge. Go through one more gate into the final field before you reach the cliff line and take in the stunning views on your left of Salcombe Mouth beach and beyond. You will see The Frog Stone here, placed by an RAF helicopter as a training exercise and remained ever since. This marks the half way point and makes a lovely spot for a picnic. It’s also the point in which you can take the steep path down towards Salcombe Mouth Beach.
Once you’re done in this area continue right, along the edge of the cliff, keeping the sea on your left and then through another gate into the next field. This part is very level so makes for a nice gentle stroll at this point. You will meet another gate and, once through, see the striking red cliffs of Sidmouth in front of you as you look down over the town.
Although you need to take the path on the right back to the car park, it’s certainly worth continuing along the cliff edge for a few 100 yards to see more of the view over Sidmouth while sitting on the benches. There’s also an interesting distance marker to see how far places like Hay Tor, Guernsey and others are in relation to your current point.
Once you’re done here, follow the path back to the car park as it winds along until you meet a tarmac road to a house on your right. Continue along this and you’ll be returned to the car park where you started.
Why not plan an evening picnic followed by a trip to the Norman Lockyer Observatory on either 6th or 27th May for a chance to learn and discover more about the planetarium and telescopes on site.
Find out more at www.normanlockyer.com