Circular walk takes in busy beaches and quiet coves

An inspirational sweeping vista of the Bay

An inspirational sweeping vista of the Bay - Credit: Keith Perry

A circular walk this week takes in one of the busiest beaches in the Bay - and two of the quietest.

Starting at Goodrington North, follow the South West Coastal Path to the end of the promenade and turn right under the railway bridge into Cliff Park Road, rejoining the coastal path almost immediately on your left.

The path climbs steadily alongside the Dartmouth Steam Railway line for about a quarter of a mile, eventually reaching an English Riviera UNESCO Geopark information board, signposted routes and another railway bridge.

Goliath steaming under the bridge that crosses to the coves

Goliath steaming under the bridge that crosses to the coves - Credit: Keith Perry

Turn left across the bridge into a large grassy field that has a generous number of benches from which to take a breather and admire an inspirational sweeping vista of the Bay.

Directly across the meadow, you will see another Geopark board and steps leading to Oyster Cove - which the Geopark map refers to as ‘Waterside Cove’ - and at the top of the southern end are more steps leading to Saltern Cove.

Saltern Cove and Shell Cove, third of the Three Beaches

Saltern Cove and Shell Cove, third of the Three Beaches - Credit: Keith Perry

This cove is notable in that in 1973 it was the first in the UK to be designated a Local Marine Nature Reserve and, in 1985, its diverse marine life and fascinating geology earned it Site of Special Scientific Interest designation.
Both coves have some sand but it is the rock pools that will fascinate younger adventurers.

View from Oyster Cove

View from Oyster Cove - Credit: Keith Perry

The steps leading to Oyster Cove are well maintained with handrails on each side but those to Saltern are slightly more challenging for anyone with mobility issues.

Steps to Oyster Cove

Steps to Oyster Cove - Credit: Keith Perry

It's worth retracing your steps to the coastal path and continues for a short distance.

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Look out for the well-worn pathway that leads to Sugar Loaf Hill, where a host of wildflower species are at their best this month.

Bluebells on Sugar Loaf Hill

Bluebells on Sugar Loaf Hill - Credit: Keith Perry

You can cut across the hill, emerging on Dartmouth Road opposite Goodrington Road and it's a short stroll past the Three Beaches shops and Waterside pub to enter Cliff Park Road and the return journey to Goodrington Sands.