Brownstone Battery is a South Devon coastal walk with fascinating buildings and endless sea views that’s perfect to do with older children.
Devon with Kids writer, Lauren Heath, took on this hike with her family. Here’s her guide to this walk between Brownstone and Kingswear.
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Brownstone Battery History
Brownstone Battery and Froward Point is a National Trust site situated at the furthest point of Kingswear in South Devon.
The National Trust site says: “it is one of the few surviving Second World War coastal defence positions. Hidden amongst the trees you’ll come across a collection of fascinating buildings, including the gun and searchlight positions.”
Walking from Higher Brownstone to Froward Point
I’ll say this upfront – after the initial flat start, this is a steep downhill walk on a mix of tarmac lane then steps down the cliff edge and uphill all the way back. So I don’t recommend it for those with younger children unless you’re used to such adventures.
My 12-year-old son found it both interesting and exciting, whilst I panicked ever so slightly in places (I have a bit of a fear of very steep places). But shouldn’t have as the steps have railings and I was so glad we discovered this place!
I’m not the biggest history fan. However I love interesting buildings, even more so with epic views as we enjoyed here.
Here’s what you need to know about this walk:
The Brownstone Battery walk route
The site is on the South West Coast Path so you can extend it as much as you wish. However the main route is a 2 ¾ mile circular route as per the information board.
We only did the walk down to Inner Froward Point then back up the same route that we’d taken.
Park at Brownstone car park, and leave at the rear of the car park where the honesty box is, walking down the tarmac lane.
Keep following the lane as it bends left and you’ll see the glorious Daymark (a navigational aid for sailors and pilots) in the distance. You’ll eventually pass this on your left as you descend further towards the battery site.
This sky-high landmark is in a farmer’s field so it is requested that you do not walk to it as this can damage crops. Instead admire it from the fence.
Not many vehicles use this road as it is a dead end. However, you might see the odd tractor or the next volunteer turning up for the National Coastwatch observation post at the change of a shift.
Walk through the gate and carry on straight, ignoring the path to the left for now. You can come back to this if you want to walk this section afterwards. As you come through the rugged shrubbery you’ll see some buildings appear in front of you.
Observation Post at Froward Point
The main building is the Froward Point Observation Post which is manned by Coastwatch volunteers keeping an eye on vessels at sea throughout the day. You’re welcome to pop in (which we did) and have a chat with them, and use the telescope to see the seals on a collection of rocks known as The Dragon’s Tail.
On the left of this building are what were once the officers mess and stores, one of which is open with some information boards inside for a quick read.
Follow the path to the right of the Observation Post. This is where your descent starts.
You’ll come to another store, the circular gun batteries, then down the miniature railway line.
Keep on going and you’ll see the steps descending further leading to the two curved searchlight positions.
The first one offers fantastic views to the right up towards Dartmouth Castle where the Dart Estuary meets the sea. The second searchlight position offers superb views out to sea and to the The Dragon’s Tail on the left. We sat in here and enjoyed our picnic.
As we came out the second one, going up the few steps, we headed right for a short bit then decided to follow the zig zag path steeply up to the Observation Post. If you don’t want to go up, you could carry on along the South West Coast Path here to do the full route as per the info board.
From the top of Froward Point, we retraced our steps all the way up the tarmac lane back to the car park.
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Handy things to know
Here’s some information that will help with your visit to Brownstone Battery at Kingswear:
There is a National Trust car park that is free for members with an honesty box for those who aren’t. The suggested donation is £2. There’s parking for around 15 cars.
Here’s where to find the Brownstone car park:
There are no toilet or cafe facilities here but National Trust Coleton Fishacre is a few minutes’ drive away with a cafe and toilets available once you have paid for entry or shown your membership card.
The National Trust map does show that the initial part of the walk up to the Daymark as wheelchair accessible (and therefore pram friendly too).
The tarmac road does become a bit rough in places but we saw someone with a wheelchair along this part.
Wildlife and dogs
Hubby will not walk where there are cattle roaming freely, so I’m pleased to say this route has its cows firmly in the fields behind gates. However there is a sign about some wild ponies around the battery area, and although we saw dung, no ponies were about when we were there.
We were so excited we spotted two hummingbird hawk moths as well as a pair of kestrels, and a bit less excited about the number of wasps around who seemed to be enjoying the various sweet plants but this was limited to the observation post area.
Dogs are allowed here but we noticed some not being too keen on the wasps so bear this in mind, although it could be a seasonal thing.
How long do you need for this walk?
Just walking down to the site, and along the cliffside route to the searchlight positions and back took up about 90 minutes of our time. This included stopping and appreciating the views as well as talking to the volunteer in the Observation Post.
See more from Lauren’s walk at Brownstone Battery on her Instagram reel.
More South Devon walks with kids
If you are looking for more South Devon coast walks check out these posts:
- Gara Rock to Mill Bay in Kingsbridge, South Devon
- Little Dartmouth on the South West Coast Path, South Devon
- Berry Head Nature Reserve near Brixham
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