6.7 miles (10.8 km)
|Toughness||5 out of 10 - 1350 ft (400 m) of ascent - 1 climb at the start then lots of small ups and downs over a good path|
|OS Maps||OS Explorer 156|
This interesting walk explores the Axmouth to Lyme Regis undercliff - an almost jungle like area of overgrown vegetation created by a landslip on Christmas Day 1839. While part of the South West Coast Path (SWCP), this is not a cliff top walk - there are sea views only at the start and finish.
On Christmas Day 1839, a 1km long section of cliff slid downhill to create the undercliff. The area is still active, and a now a 6km long, and up to 1km wide 'undercliff' has formed with dense vegetation. At first the undercliff was farmed, but it is now a Nature Reserve full of self-seeded plants and trees. With the reduction in the rabbit population due to myxomatosis, a lush vegation has formed, with a dense jungle of ferns, bracken, wild garlic and ash (trees). Sadly, English Nature is removing the tropical plants that came from a former garden in the area.
There is a well maintained and well waymarked path through the undercliff which forms part of the SWCP - many slopes have wooden steps. Despite the warnings signs at either end, it is not too strenuous a walk - though there are many ups and downs, they don't last for long, especially by the standards of the SWCP, and any regular walker can easily complete it. It is very 'enclosed' walk with much forest cover (ideal walk for a very hot summers day) - very different from the the rest of the SWCP.
However, the path is up to 500m inland, with very few views of the sea. Along the way, there are 1 or 2 faint side paths leading down to the coast (access to which is strongly discouraged by the Nature Reserve that manages the undercliff, presumably for their own amusement rather than for the benefit of the taxpayers who pay their salaries). There are no rights of way inland either (there is a private track at the half way point should you need it). Some of these side paths have steel ladders down to the beach at the bottom. If you do follow them, beware of glaciar like fissures hidden by vegetation, and consider long trousers to protect yourself from the possibility of ticks
The entire walk is on the SWCP. It starts on Seaton's seafront promenade, and detours inland through a golf course before returning to the cliff top with good views , and the start of the undercliff. (1 mile)
The next 6 miles or so are through a jungle like canopy of vegetation. The path is inland from the coast - the sea is rarely seen. It is undulating, but never too strenuous. The path, while very well maintained (e.g. steps in steep places) is only 1 person wide. There are 1 or 2 places with sea views that make nice spots for a rest, and a few remains of buildings at the half way point. Towards the Lyme Regis end of the walk, the path joins a paved tracked which is wider and easier.
After the undercliff, the path enters National Trust land at Ware Cliffs, with views out to sea as far as the Isle of Portland and Torquay, and below, over the Cobb (harbour) at Lyme Regis
After descending to the Cobb, the walk finishes along the sea front promenade past many pubs and the tourist information office, to reach the bus stop to catch the X53 back to your car in Seaton.
Seaton is not so picturesque, but Lyme Regis with is sandy bay, harbour and quaint buildings is very touristy - a nice place to wait for a bus
When to do this walk: Spring is goos for wild flowers. Winter is good for views when the trees have lost their leaves
[May 2016]. The route is fully open after being closed by a landslip. The new path is slightly further inland.
The walk can be done in reverse.
This walk is through the landslip area above the coast. The coastline itself can be explored from the base of the cliffs from either the west (Axmouth, along the footpath at the base of the cliff past the fishing bait shop) or east (along Lyme Regis beach), but beware of 1) the tides, 2) slippery rocks/seaweed, 3) rock falls - "look for fresh fallen debris (at the base of the cliffs) and minimise the time spent in recognised missile hazard zones" - see Geology link below. There are a few unmarked path between the two.
Leave the coast road at the Axmouth turnoff. Continue through Axmouth towards Seaton. Just before the bridge at the start of Seaton, there is free parking along the side of the road. The SWCP goes over the bridge.
Lyme Regis and Seaton are on the X53 coastal bus service route (about 2 hourly: Exeter - Seaton - Lyme Regis - Weymouth). Lyme Regis also had buses inland to Axminster (station)
X53, 2 hourly, Lyme Regis to Seaton, £2.60, takes 30 mins - not winter Sundays
X31, Lyme Regis - Axminster (station), every 30 mins
|Lunch and Tea||
Nothing on route.
There is an outside cafe by the fish bait shop at the start (turn right after the bridge in Seaton), and the golf course cafe (when open) welcomes walkers. Lots of places in Lyme Regis at the end.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This walk is very well waymarked - apart from the location of the bus stop at the end, these instructions aren't really needed
- Head east along Seaton seafront. At the end, follow the road inland and cross the bridge, following SWCP signs.
- To your right is a small road, beneath the hill, along side the harbour leading to a cafe by a fish bait shop, and a footpath that leads to the end of the beach
- Continue along the road, turm right, leading uphill to a golf course.
- Pass the golf cource building (possible cafe), and continue following SWCP signs
- Turn right, leading to the cliff top, then left along the cliff top
- Enter the undercliffe (information board)
- Continue for 6 miles, ignoring 1 or 2 ways off to the coast (marked by SWCP signposts)
- Pass the ruins of a pumping station after 3 miles
- Eventually you join a wider tarmac path, and leave the undercliffe via National Trust land
- Continue along the well waymarked SWCP, pass a viewpoint, and descnd into Lyme Regis
- Follow the seafront to a square, then along a narow lane, then a promenande for about 0.5 miles passing many pubs and cafes until you reach a small car park.
- Immeadiately inland, by the clock tower is the X53 bus stop