Bantham offers an idyllic sandy cove, a cult surfing location and one of the most scenic river estuaries in Devon. The shockingly blue ribbon of the Avon is a haven for wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for curlew, lapwing and redshank.
Follow the track from the car park into the village, passing the Sloop Inn. When the road splits turn left, then pick up a footpath to the left just before the village stores, signed to Aveton Gifford. Follow this path as beautiful views open up over the estuary, the appealing ferry house and, when the tide is in, turquoise waters.
When the paths splits turn left over a stile, signed Avon Estuary Walk, then at a crossing of tracks go through a gate and continue straight ahead (be careful of barbed wire on the gate). Curve around with the path, climbing uphill, and walk through a gate then over a stile. Keep on this course, following the path through Stiddicombe Woods. Go through a kissing gate and continue uphill through trees. Climb a stile, then bear left downhill, looking ahead to Stiddicombe Creek and an old lime kiln.
Turn left through a gate and cross the bridge. Go through two gates on the other side of the creek and follow the path through trees, bearing right. Follow markers up a steep hill, then bear right at the top of the field. Turn left at a marker and go through a gate. Turn right at the next marker and head diagonally across the field to a gate. Carry on the path, along the fenceline, to Stadbury Farm. Bear right on a path around the farm, then turn right on to a lane.
Take the next footpath right and leave the Avon Estuary Way – but not before enjoying views over the salt marshes at Milburn Orchard, which attracts a rich array of waders and wildfowl. Turn right at the marker and carry on along the field boundary. Go diagonally across the next field to Osborne Newton Farm, aiming to the right of the white bungalow and left of the tree to reach a lane via a gate. Skirt around the farm to a lane, then turn right and immediately left through a gate. Head downhill through this field, to the left of trees. Cross the stream, head diagonally uphill to the right, then cross to a gate in the top corner.
Walk along the top of the field, through a gate, then head diagonally left, aiming between the houses, until you reach a stone stile. Follow the bridleway opposite. Turn right, then immediately left, and follow a path downhill through trees. Go over a stile, then turn right to a gate. Climb a stile then bear left uphill.
Go through a gate and follow either path to the next gate. Turn left and follow the field boundary to the road.
Turn right and follow the road through East Buckland. Bear right when the road splits, signed Bantham, and follow the road back to the Sloop Inn.
The sloop Inn
The 14th-century Sloop Inn is just the type of flag-stoned, black-beamed and wood-panelled inn that you’d expect from an old smugglers’ haunt. Packed out with locals and daytrippers alike, it serves tasty grub and specialises in seafood.
Minor roads, public rights of way and farm tracks. The section between 2 and 3 can get very muddy. This route is suitable all year round, but in summer you can use the ferry to cross the estuary at Bantham and create a circular walk via Averton Gifford. See the information board at Bantham for more information.
How to get there by car: Bantham is 20 miles east of Plymouth. Follow the A379 through Aveton Gifford, then turn right at Bantham Cross roundabout. Follow this road to the end for a pay and display car park.
By public transport:
A passenger ferry crosses the estuary seasonally.
The Sloop Inn
Bantham, near Kingsbridge, Devon TQ7 3AJ
% 01548 560489 www.thesloop.co.uk
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL20. Grid ref: SX 665 437
Visit Devon www.visitdevon.co.uk
Kingsbridge Tourist Information Centre % 01548 853195 www.kingsbridgeinfo.co.uk