Hive Beach, situated on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, lies in a shallow valley between two distinct geological formations. The western cliffs extending to Burton Cliff consist of Bridport Sands formed in tropical seas around 175 million years ago, with prominent beds of Inferior Oolite, huge blocks of which frequently fall to the beach. The eastern cliffs extending to Cogden consist mostly of clays also formed in tropical seas, but around 167 million years ago. Behind the eastern ridge, the peaceful River Bride flows along the valley from its source at Bridehead House to the sea at Burton Bradstock. This lovely walk explores all of these intriguing places and takes us through delightful Burton Bradstock village whose lanes are generally lined with either thatched stone cottages or stone walls.

The Walk

Great British Life: Hive Beach Cafe at the start and finish of the walk. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Hive Beach Cafe at the start and finish of the walk. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

1. From Hive Beach Café, with WCs behind, walk up the east cliff Coast Path outside the car park’s stone wall, then alongside the left field with World War II pillbox on top. Continue on any multi-diverging path with sea views from the clifftop. Past a left ‘National Trust’ kissing-gate, continue on the path below the caravan park. Keep straight on past the ‘National Trust Cogden’ plaque-post, descending between the left field’s edge and right cliffs. Then, continue along the pebble-beach itself to the left gated track. Walk up the track, or parallel grass paths, to the fenced Cogden National Trust car park. Walk through to B3157 and bus stops. Go 50 yards left and cross to the right footpath-signed hedge-gate.

Great British Life: The South West Coast Path approaching Cogden Beach. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)The South West Coast Path approaching Cogden Beach. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

2. Through into the field, walk left and instant-right onto the descending green track alongside the right hedge with wooded Shipton Hill prominent ahead. Down to the corner’s wide opening, go through and turn left. Up along the hedge to the corner, turn right along the green track to the next left corner. Turn right, pass the nearby hedge-gap and continue to the first overhead-wires’ support-post. Take the left footpath-gap (an old gateway) into an open uncultivated field. Follow the used path down this long field and through a blackberry thicket. After the last right bush, take the right minor path with soil steps down into the valley, through a scrub gap, and up diagonally-right to the hedge’s horse-jump, gate and footpath-stile. Over, walk straight up the field to the top hedge-gate and footpath-stile. Look behind to see Golden Cap, the highest point on the South West Coast.

Great British Life: Past the pond at Point 3, often low in summer. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Past the pond at Point 3, often low in summer. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

3. Over the stile, continue uphill to the stone-wall’s gate and footpath-stile. Over, walk straight to the fence-stile by the left pond (often rather low in August’s heat). Over, or past, cross the shallow valley field to the horse-jump left of the gate. Over, turn left up along the left hedge’s grass strip. Over the huge field’s top, with Shipton Hill still ahead, walk down to the bottom-left corner. Go over the footpath-stile lurking in the hedge’s shady corner. Continue down the field path into the left corner, then go right/left to the footpath-stile and Bredy Road, footpath-signed back. ‘Modbury Farm Shop’ is advertised right. Turn left to three-way signpost. Turn right (Bredy Lane), signed ‘Shipton Gorge’. Walk up the shady lane. Over the River Bride bridge, pass the old cart-shed right, left ‘1899 Bredy Farm’ house and ‘The Parlour Café and Restaurant’. Continue up the hedged lane to the T-junction with the right yard and track. Turn left into hedged Annings Lane.

Great British Life: Golden cereals at Graston Farm. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Golden cereals at Graston Farm. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

4. After right red-brick Bredy Cottages, either (A) take the quieter field-path route here described or (B) continue along the lane. Either way, we’ll rejoin at Point 5. Route A: Fork left at ‘Graston Farm’ drive into the gated ‘Graston’ footpath-track. When the track bends left, keep straight on past the footpath-post, follow the diagonally-left path to the field-edge bank with a left barn. Into the next field, walk half-right to the corner footpath-gate. Through, go left through the hedge-gap and follow the path along the right hedge to the footpath-stile by the facing gate. Over, follow the grass path with left fence and right hedges, past right Graston Copse gates, through 1½ gates, over a drive (tents left, caravans right) and onto two sleeper-bridges through the hedge corner into a long wide field. Follow the path across to the far right Annings Road gateway.

Great British Life: Mill Street cottages and Post Office. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Mill Street cottages and Post Office. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

5. Here, Route A and B walkers re-convene. At the three-way footpath signpost, take the path into the trees. Over the footbridge, follow the meandering path along left River Bride and willows, with various right trees, field, houses and gardens, and past left sluicegates. Then follow the hedged grass path to a gate onto Grove Road with ‘Old Mill’ (Richard Rogers 1803 flax-swingling mill) left. Keep straight on, passing right ‘Grove House’ with its old mulberry tree. Around a right bend, take the first left into Darby Lane, passing left elegant Darby House. At the end T-junction, with the Church of St Mary the Virgin opposite, go right and then left into Mill Street. After visiting the church, walk down Mill Street, round the right corner, past, on the right, thatched cottages, Post Office and the award-winning Three Horseshoes Pub & Kitchen, onto the B3157, turn left.

Great British Life: River Bride at Burton Cliff. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)River Bride at Burton Cliff. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)

6. Over the River Bride bridge and past the left play area, cross to the right pavement before the left bend. Go straight on into Cliff Road and take first right ‘Southover’. Past the left row of stone cottages and right allotments, continue onto the ‘To Coast Path’ footpath-signed track after right Kitty’s Cottage. Through 1½ gates, follow the lower green track with the large caravan park over the fenced River Bride right. Continue through two half-gates and past the right-signed ‘Coast Path West Bay’ footpath-bridge. Continue over the field with River Bride right to the kissing-gate. Through, left is signed ‘Burton Hive 1’, the cliff-top footpath from Burton Cliff to Hive Beach. But, if it’s low tide, the wide beach, clear of the spectacular cliffs, is a rewarding return route back to Hive Beach where you started.

Great British Life: Burton Cliff at the end of the walk. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)Burton Cliff at the end of the walk. (Photo: Edward Griffiths)


Compass Points

Distance: 4½ miles/7.25 km

Time: 3½ hours

Exertion: Mildly strenuous. Some stiles

Start: Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock (Grid Ref: SY491888)

Map: OS Landranger Sheet 194 and 193

Public Transport: First Jurassic Coaster X52, X53

Dogs: As required on beaches, abide by The Countryside Code

Refreshments: Hive Beach Café or The Three Horseshoes in Burton Bradstock (both are dog friendly)