A circular walk through stunning scenery from Aveton Gifford to Bigbury following the tidal road, paths, tracks and the beach. There are excellent views of the Avon estuary and of the famous Burgh Island.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
This walk includes sections which will be flooded at high tide. Do not take risks: check the tide times and see the 'Useful Information' below for alternative routes.
(D/A) Start in the car park in Aveton Gifford (grid ref. SX 692 472), next to the roundabout by the tidal road. From the top car park, take the footpath across a field to the tidal road. Then turn right onto the tidal road and follow the road along the estuary. The road runs right alongside the mudflats and is notorious for trapping unwary drivers who fail to check the tide times.
(1) At the end of the tidal section, turn left onto the footpath. Follow the path down to the river's edge, then up steps and follow the path as it climbs the hill. Take time to enjoy the views up and down the estuary.
(2) When the path reaches the hedge, keep to the right and go through the gate to follow the path uphill through a thicket and back out into the fields. Cross the fields and follow the path through the woods, following the 'Avon Estuary Walk' markers.
(3) At the road, turn left along the permissive path that runs along the hedge, and follow it to Lincombe Lane. Turn left onto Lincombe Lane and follow the lane downhill. Bigbury Golf Course will briefly come into view before the lane turns away and heads towards the estuary, eventually turning right and climbing back up to the golf course.
(4) Turn left, and follow the private road, taking care to avoid flying golf balls. You will catch your first glimpses of Burgh Island.
(5) The path leaves the road and turns left into a field. Follow the track until you find a waymarker arrow at a gate on the right. Go through this gate and follow the path downhill to Cockleridge Ham, then turn right towards Bigbury-on-Sea and walk until you reach the beach.
(6) If you are sure of the tide and sea state, walk along the beach to Bigbury (if not, see below). The sand should be firm and easy to walk on, but there are sections of loose rocks where you will need to take care. Enjoy the open space, rolling waves (these beaches are popular with surfers) and views of Burgh Island. When you reach Bigbury, climb the steps or walk up the ramp to the car parks.
(7) From the car parks, take the coast path below the telephone box, through the overflow car park above The Warren, and onto the road.
(8) At the road, follow the sign to the coast path towards Challaborough, and continue along the path until you reach Challaborough bay. Walk down the road past the beach and rejoin the coast path to the left at the convenience store. Follow the path up onto the headland.
(9) At the brow of the hill, take the path to the right towards Ringmore and follow it until you reach the road.
(10) At the road, continue straight on into the village, and turn right onto a lane at the thatched cottages.
(11) To the left of the appropriately named End House, take the path into the fields and follow the path to the left along the hedge. When you reach the next field, take the path diagonally downhill towards the gate about halfway down the next fence, then diagonally down to the bottom corner of the field to join a track. Turn left along the track.
(12) Turn left off the track and walk up through the field to a gate into the woods. Follow the path through the woods, past a pond and into the fields.
(13) Turn right, and follow the path along the hedgerows to the road. Carefully cross the road and continue across the fields to another road.
(14) Turn right onto the road and then take the first left towards Easton. Follow this road all the way to the bottom of the valley.
(15) Ignore the footpaths to the right, and instead follow the road round to the left. After about 100 yards, you will reach a steep, unsurfaced road on the right, signposted 'Drunkard's Hill'. Turn right and stagger up this byway.
(16) At the signpost, turn right into the fields and follow the 'Avon Estuary Walk' waymarkers to the road. Follow the road to the bottom of the valley and across the bridge, then uphill to the main road.
(17) Take great care crossing the busy A-road, and then take the path that leads to the left through the hedge. Follow the path as it doubles-back and goes downhill, parallel to the main road. At the bottom of the hill, turn right and go through the subway back to the car park. (D/A)
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 20ft - Aveton Gifford Tidal Road Car Park (SX 692 472)
1 : mi 0.72 - alt. 16ft - End of tidal road
2 : mi 1.16 - alt. 194ft - Hedge at brow of hill
3 : mi 1.74 - alt. 292ft - Permissive path parallel to county road
4 : mi 3.33 - alt. 312ft - Bigbury Golf Course
5 : mi 3.61 - alt. 236ft - Path into fields
6 : mi 3.99 - alt. 26ft - Beach at Cockleridge Point
7 : mi 5.08 - alt. 59ft - Bigbury Beach car parks - Burgh Island
8 : mi 5.21 - alt. 56ft - Road at Warren Point
9 : mi 6.1 - alt. 135ft - Headland
10 : mi 6.67 - alt. 240ft - County road
11 : mi 6.97 - alt. 194ft - Path at End House
12 : mi 7.33 - alt. 89ft - Path into fields
13 : mi 8 - alt. 335ft - Junction of paths
14 : mi 8.41 - alt. 387ft - County road
15 : mi 9.11 - alt. 46ft - Valley bottom after Foxhole
16 : mi 9.52 - alt. 240ft - Junction with Avon Estuary Walk
17 : mi 10.1 - alt. 82ft - Main road
D/A : mi 10.35 - alt. 16ft - Subway to car park
The tidal road at Aveton Gifford and the beach at Bigbury will be covered at high tide. As a rule, assume that the tidal road is covered for two hours either side of high tide. It is clearly safer to walk this route while the tide is going out rather than coming in. Check the tide times at the UK Hydrographic Office website
Ordnance Survey OL20 South Devon
There is a cafe at Bigbury beach, which is open every day all year round, and cafes at Challaborough which are open in the holiday season.
There are pubs at Aveton Gifford, on Burgh Island and at Ringmore.
The village shop at Aveton Gifford serves hot and cold soft drinks and light snacks to take away.
There are public lavatories at Bigbury beach.
The coast path is well marked and well used. The paths across the fields are waymarked, but their line is not always clear on the ground. The lanes may be muddy after rain. There are few very steep sections, but there are some short sections of steps.
There is free parking in the car park next to the tidal road in Aveton Gifford, at grid ref. SX 692 472.
A regular bus service runs Monday to Saturday between Kingsbridge and Plymouth, calling at Aveton Gifford.
If the tide is covering - or threatening to cover - the tidal road, walk the route backwards from the car park to (15), then take the footpath down the valley to (1).
If the tide or waves make the beach route at Bigbury unsafe, follow the waymarked coast path at (6) over the cliffs and down into Bigbury.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
(D) Aveton Gifford is pronounced 'Awton Jifford' ... possibly: there are several variations, including 'Avverton Gifford'. If in doubt, refer to it as 'AG'.
The tidal road between (D) and (1) is an attractive but notorious route that follows the estuary along, and often just below, the high watermark. The foolish or unwary are regularly caught out by the incoming tide, and locals take great delight in watching 'grockles' (tourists) with smart cars blindly follow their sat-nav into several feet of saltwater.
(7) Across the beach from Bigbury is the famous Burgh Island. This is a tidal island, cut off from the mainland at high tide; an unusual sea-tractor carries visitors across the flooded causeway. A hotel was built on the island in 1929 in Art Deco style and became a bolt-hole for the rich and fashionable in the 1930s. Anyone who was anyone, from Edward VIII to Noel Coward, stayed at the hotel and Agatha Christie based two novels, Evil Under the Sun and And Then There Were None on the island. The hotel is still a luxury destination, but the Pilchard Inn offers more accessible hospitality. There are footpaths around the island.
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