23. South Devon: Kingston - Coast Path and Erme (Circular) - 6 miles - 0S Landranger 202

Even for the gorgeous South Hams this has extra oomph. Beach, woods, village pub, and unspoilt river. Hilly in parts.

There’s a car park by the church at Kingston and, just below the church, the 16th century Dolphin. Why not start with a pint? It’s a lovely old pub with a good range of ales. When I was there earlier this year (when travelling was allowed but gatherings indoors wasn’t) the landlord walked out to the lane to join other villagers as a hearse drove slowly past. It was literally and figuratively a moving way to show respect in these odd times.



From the pub, head down the lane, turning right at the end, then first left. A dead end for cars but it leads to a delightful track down to Wyscombe beach (ignore a path on the left signposted Ringmore). On your left are ponds, algae covered when I was there, giving it an oddly fairly-tale look.


The track turns to path by fields. One had young willows in neat lines. Cultivated for making crab and lobster pots, I think. A rare glimpse of what must have been common once.

Soon after, you arrive at Westcombe Beach, a real beauty of sand - and rocky outcrops where horizontal seams have been screwed almost

vertical by prehistoric upheavals we're unlikely to see again (hopefully). The building on the left's an old stable, apparently. The local landowners would come down (with royalty in tow sometimes) to posh-picnic here. I wandered through the rocky outcrops on the right and found another beach and caves. Plenty of space to relax and a great swimming spot.

Once you’ve had your fill of champagne and caviar (or in our case roast beef and tea) send the footman home and head west along the Coast Path to the Erme mouth, glancing eastward to enjoy the view to Bigbury. Ooh it's steep, but one step at a time will get you to the top, heart racing sweat running, never-again muttering.


You’re on the Flete estate, owned by the Mildmay family. As a left leaning miner’s son, such a lot of land in private ownership seems wrong, but I doubt this place would have remained unspoilt otherwise. It’s stunning and - bless ‘em - most of it’s open to us plebs.


It doesn’t happen often but the river walk is every bit as lovely as the coast walk with a fine beach (Wonwell) to dawdle at and walk along. Look out for the rubble that blends almost naturally into the cliffside, except its brick.


A lime kiln, it harks back to at least the sixteenth century when lime was spread on farmland to reduce the soil's acidity. Cheap Guano - a great fertilizer - from mountains of bird poo from the Chinchas Islands off the coast of Peru where it hardly ever rains - hence not washed away - put an end to that in the 19th century. That island and the search for nitrates (I know it sounds boring but far from it) is well worth reading about in Thomas Hager's book, The Alchemy of Air.

A slipway to a lane is where you leave the beach. Look for a path into the woods on your right and take it. Keep heading uphill where other options present themselves. I recently rewalked this in early May. Trees freshly leaved, bluebells, white flowering wild garlic and pink Campion made this every bit as special as the other segments of this walk.


Finally, you come out at fields. Stunning views over South Hams and a clearly marked path keep you on course and entertained until you reach a lane. Turn right here, then left at a T junction to return to Kingston.

Tea at the Dolphin yer Majesty?'

Nah, we thinks we'll av a pint o Jail ale.