A walk of coastal and estuary paths and mixed woodland
THE SOUTH HAMS coastline is one of the many jewels in devon’s crown. Varying with the seasons, the coast can take the full force of south-westerly storms but in fine weather makes for more tranquil birding. Just off-shore is the Great Mew Stone, which derives its name from the old English word for Herring Gull. It has a colourful history, having served as a prison in the 18th Century, then a family home and later a smuggler’s den. It went through several changes of ownership until, during WW2, the War Office took over. The MOD retained this tiny island as it was in the line of fire from their naval gunnery school, HMS Cambridge, on Wembury Point. This was decommissioned in 2001 and the Mew Stone was subsequently bought by the National Trust. It is now an undisturbed haven for seabirds. The start of the walk goes through farmland and passes Brookings Down Wood, a well-managed community woodland where bird boxes have been installed, including owl and woodpecker boxes. Along the coast there are optional paths descending to the beaches.