This is a great walk but you need a reasonable level of fitness, some good footwear and the ability to climb hills. You will be rewarded with some fabulous scenery and the knowledge that you have burnt off enough calories to treat yourself to a mahoosive cream tea or a big fat piece of cake.
You may want to take a picnic and make a day of it. The route I have suggested is around 5.5 miles in total. If you add in walking down to Hopes Nose that’s almost an extra mile. I have suggested places where you can peel off and head back for home if you want a shorter walk. Depending on the time of year you could see wonderful wild flowers and, if you are lucky, the odd Peregrine Falcon or seal. If you like swimming you could take a towel and aim for a refreshing dip at Anstey’s Cove or Meadfoot Beach.
- So let’s get started. Come out of Vane Tower’s gates and turn right walking up to the top of Vane Hill Road. Then follow the footpath through St John’s Wood. Don’t take the left fork in the woods but keep straight on until you come to some little steps which take you onto Parkhill Road.
- Cross Parkhill Road and carry straight on down Daddyhole Road (watching out for traffic). Keep going straight along Daddyhole Road (don’t go left towards The Little Theatre). You will shortly come to a little road on the right which leads up to Daddyhole Plain but keep going straight on until you get to The Headland Hotel on your left. Here the road will stop and become a footpath. Follow the footpath down the hill. You are now on the South West Coast Path. You will come to a little road and ahead of you there is a stone arch in the brick wall. Turn right through the arch and take the steps down to the sea front.
This is the view through the pines towards Meadfoot Beach:
- At the bottom of the steps you will see a path leading down to the sea via Meadfoot Beach café. https://goo.gl/maps/6kJ6M14woW4fxJHr5 Don’t be fooled by its rather utilitarian exterior. You can get great, reasonably priced breakfasts and lunches here with a view of the sea. You may want to explore Meadfoot Beach if the tide is out, otherwise continue along Meadfoot Sea Road keeping the sea on your right.
- At the far end of the beach you will arrive at Kilmorie Car Park. Walk straight across the car park and you will see a little track heading up the hill with the South West Coast path marker.
- Take the steps up onto Ilsham Marine Drive. Turn right at the top of the steps and walk up the hill. Look out for a footpath off to the right next to a lamppost. You will see the wooden post with the South West Coast path yellow arrow.
- Take the path and walk down to Thatcher Point https://goo.gl/maps/uad3zQN4kBHSS1X48
- You will have to temporarily leave the footpath and head down to a little headland with wonderful views of the coast and Thatcher’s Rock – so called because the rocky outcrop looks like a thatcher with a bag of reeds on his back climbing up a sloping roof.
- Back on the path keep the sea on your right and don’t go too near the edge. There is a public park to your left. After climbing some steps, you will re-join Ilsham Marine Drive. By now you are about 1.5 miles from Vane Tower so if you have had enough retrace your steps. You can walk back along Ilsham Marine Drive.
Want to carry on?
- Continue up the hill and at the junction of Thatcher Avenue you will see a stile on your right hand side.
Detour for confident walkers only: There is a circular walk which leads down a steep path to Hopes Nose: https://goo.gl/maps/2GwnLqYVpqwwbtzh7 Taking this path could add as much as a mile to your walk. You will find some amazing geological rock formations, wild birds, possibly seals and a lot of grumpy fishermen.
- If you want to save Hope’s Nose for another day continue up the hill. On your left you will see some steps with a wooden SW Coast Path marker. This path is at a highr level and avoids having to walk along the road. Continue on the road or path and you will start to go downhill and reach the junction of cul de sac called Bishops Close on your left.
- Directly opposite on the right side of the road is a tarmac path which says Public Footpath to Bishops Walk and Anstey’s Cove. Take this pretty little path and follow it all the way round to Anstey’s Cove car park – about 0.6 miles. Keep left to the upper path as the deviations to the right mean a steep climb back up the hill.
- You will come out onto Anstey’s Cove Road and just a few steps on the right you will see a steep path leading down to the sea. Take it if you want to explore Anstey’s Cove https://goo.gl/maps/joHw2jUapSKatwmo7
In the Summer months you will find a nice little café and sun loungers, paddleboards and canoes for hire.
- Now it’s time to head back. Cross over the road from Anstey’s Cove and walk straight through the car park. Follow the tracks across the grass down to Stoodley Meadow Community café and a children’s play area. Opposite you on the other side of Ilsham Road you will find Kents Cavern Prehistoric Caves. Check their website for tour times if you are interested: https://www.kents-cavern.co.uk/
- If you want to head home, cross over the road and walk downhill to the left. There will be a section of road with no pavement so look out for cars. As you get to the bottom of the hill on the right you will see a little footpath leading onto Meadfoot Green.
- Now you can either: walk right down to the bottom of Meadfoot Green – a big swathe of grass which ends in a tarmac path until you reach Meadfoot Sea Road where you can retrace your steps back to the house…
- Or: walk down to the bottom of Meadfoot Green but instead of heading for the sea via the little path, take the track up the hill to the right which heads up into the woods via a broken stile. Keep left on this path as it heads up the hill. There will be various tracks heading off the right up the hill but keep the sea on your left and you will get lovely views of Meadfoot Beach through the gaps in the evergreen oaks.
- Keep following this path straight on until you come to a point where there is a choice of going straight on or taking a sharp hairpin bend down to the left. Take the track down the hill to the left and wind back onto Meadfoot Sea Road where you will emerge near the café. From there you can retrace your steps back to Vane Tower Penthouse via Daddyhole Plain.