Culmstock Beacon

About this route

Culmstock Beacon provides a stunning viewpoint south to the River Culm valley and the historic village of Culmstock.  The Beacon is on Black Down Common, 250 metres above sea level and is marked as ‘Black Down Beacon’ on Benjamin Donn’s map of Devon, 1765.  It is thought to have originated as an Armada Beacon, one of a network across Devon built to warn of the Spanish Armada threat in 1588.  Once lit the beacon would have been visible along sightlines to other beacons, at Holcombe Rogus, Upottery and Blackborough.

Culmstock Beacon is a designated Listed Building (Grade II).  The circular beehive-shaped structure is built of local stone and is possibly the only beacon hut in the country to survive in its original form, although it was rebuilt in 1870 after it collapsed. The central hole for the fire post and beam slots for metal bars are thought to be original beacon features.

Visiting Culmstock Beacon on foot is an excellent day out, using local public footpaths above the town of Culmstock.  However, everyone can enjoy this spectacular maritime monument through a virtual tour given by Devon County Archaeologist Bill Horner at Blackdown Hills Natural Futures_Culmstock Beacon


Culstock Beacon SAM 1909

Culmstock Beacon, © Horner, B. 2022.



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Getting Around

On foot: Culmstock Beacon is accessible by public footpath and bridleway on Black Down Common.

By bus: It is possible to reach Culmstock by using the Dartline Coaches service 20, which runs several times a day, Monday to Saturday, between Taunton and Honiton. Timetables available at Travel Devon.

By road: No formal car park is available, and considerate parking along the narrow lanes leading to the common is required, or else park on the northern edge of Culmstock village and walk 1.5km to the site.

Culmstock Beacon is accessible via unmade public footpaths and bridleways.

There are no facilities, but the nearby villages of Culmstock and Hemyock do have amenities available.
The walk up on to Black Down Common requires a relatively sharp ascent of c. 50m and requires moderate fitness.