Distance: 4.3 km
Terrain: Generally moderate walking on paths, fields, tracks and shingle beach, but with a fairly relentless steep ascent from Weston Mouth.
Amenities: Car park, restaurant and toilets at The Donkey Sanctuary, near Sidmouth (for sat nav, use EX10 0NU).
Walk Guide: The Donkey Sanctuary Walk by South West Coast Path
The Donkey Sanctuary has several walks around and from its extensive grounds between Branscombe and Sidmouth. Many of these are suitable for wheelchairs and buggies or families with young children. This walk is not one of them!
We elected to follow the South West Coast Path circular walk, which begins on the same path as Walk D. You don’t start many walks by having to herd the donkeys away from the path – such beautiful, docile creatures. Do stop and have a look at them either at the start or end of the walk – they are well worth a visit.
As you start to leave the paddocks of the sanctuary, you enter a series of meadows which are awash with flowers. At this time of year, there are lots of bluebells, primroses and wild garlic. As the weather warms up, it is possible to see lots of butterflies in the meadows.
The path snakes down the coombe, following the stream which opens out into Weston Mouth beach, which is a shingle beach. It is possible to walk from Branscombe all along this stretch to Sidmouth. Years ago, we used to holiday in the little beach cabins at Branscombe and this walk brought back lovely memories. There is a little cottage on the cliff at Weston which smelled fantastic – a mix of wood smoke and Lapsang Souchong tea!
The ascent from the beach can be hard-going. Strange that this is described by the South West Coast Path as “moderate” but by The Donkey Sanctuary as “only for the very fit – not for the faint hearted”. I suppose it depends on how fit you are. I would describe myself as moderately active but I found the ascent up the cliff pretty exhausting! Very pretty though!
The Hayloft Restaurant at the sanctuary does good lunches, but on this occasion, we passed as there was a queue out the door!
The Donkey Sanctuary also publishes A Walker’s Guide which is £1.00 and will provide you with ample walking for future visits!