What will I see on the South West Coast Path at Kingswear?
This is a beautiful walk that encompasses history, wildlife and stunning coastal views overlooking the mouth of the river Dart and Start Bay. You’ll wander through idyllic South Devon farmland, traverse clifftops, and witness the remains of fortifications which defended the Dart estuary for centuries. Along the way you might spot a Peregrine Falcon, the fastest living creature on the planet, or hear the uplifting song of the skylark. Out at sea grey seals might be fishing for supper, or a frenzy of gannets might be plunging into the water as a shoal of fish make an appetising meal. Take a breath, give yourself some time, and then savour every moment of this breathtaking walk that will enthuse and invigorate.
How fit should I be?
You’ll need to have a certain level of fitness for this five mile walk, as beyond the tarmac road from Darthaven Carpark (your starting point) there are some steep climbs, albeit very short. There are also two stiles and a long flight of steps.
The Kingwear to Froward Point Loop
Begin your adventure on the lower ferry, just around the corner from Bayards Cove Inn, which runs a continuous service between 07.10 and 22.50. For foot passengers it’s £1.50 for adults, £1 for children.
The walk starts at the Darthaven Carpark – you’ll find the route here.
Kingwear was once an important bunkering point, where steam shops would call to take on coal. As you walk out of Kingswear, take a look at Dartmouth Castle, which stands so proudly at the mouth of the River Dart. Built in the 15th century, it’s an ever present reminder of the importance of Dartmouth as a port.
Less known is Kingswear Castle, below you on the South West Coast Path, which was finished in 1503. It was eventually abandoned, as the cannons from Dartmouth Castle could protect the span of the water.
Brownstone Battery is an interesting place. It was built in 1942 as a defence against German naval attack and was equipped with two six-inch guns taken from a First World War battleship. Each gun had a range of over 14 miles and operated in tandem with a powerful searchlight.
During the war the battery was manned by up to 300 soldiers, and the cliffs all around were strung with barbed wire.
National CoastWatch Institute station
You’ll also find the National CoastWatch Institute station – do pop in and say hello! IT’s open seven days a week from 09.00 to 20.00.
Over 60 trained and qualified volunteer watchkeepers share daylight watches operating every day of the year.
Watchkeepers observe activity throughout the sea area within the wide view of the watch station. The station is equipped with telescopes, radar, radio, telephone and weather instrumentation as well as up to date charts. Through close cooperation with the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), NCI at Froward Point initially earned its “Declared Facility Status” in 2007, enabling it to become an integral part of the National Search and Rescue structure. Each year since then it has been tested and found to be more than adequate to continue in this role.
Watchkeepers are the eyes and ears along the coast, keeping a visual watch, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. The work is mainly routine but watchkeepers are trained to act in an emergency, report to the MCA and if required coordinate with the search and rescue services. This includes potential emergencies involving the many walkers who use the coast path which passes the Station as well as incidents at sea.
Those views and a brilliant app
Enjoy the views across Start Bay. We also recommend downloading the app Marine Traffic so that you can name the vessels out at sea, and you’ll see where they’ve been and where they’re heading, It’s great fun to do with kids.
From Brownstone Battery you’ll also see the Mew Stone which is home to seabirds and grey seals.
The Daymark was built in 1864 as a navigational aid to shipping and is a grade 2 listed building. It’s a very ‘instagrammable’ spot!
Much of the area around Froward Point is owned by the National Trust which works with tenant farmers, with funding from Natural England to manage the farmland for birds and rare arable plants.