A quiet seaside village
Downderry is a coastal village in south-east Cornwall. It is situated eighteen miles west of Plymouth and one mile east of Seaton.
Downderry has a long beach of sand and light shingle. There is road access down to the beach via a slipway although this is blocked by a locked gate, pedestrian access is still possible. Dogs are allowed on the beach. The east beach has a reputation as a nudist beach.
To the west the beach stretches to Seaton, one mile away along the sand. It is possible to walk along the beach to Seaton at low tide but you should consult a tide table first to make sure you can get there without getting cut off between the rocky outcrops by a rising tide.
For surfers there are two notable reef breaks. One is located in front of Downderry Primary School. You must walk in across the rocks. Access is along a path beside the Primary School. The other is located more or less off the slip-way on the main beach. This is good during a reasonably heavy swell when the tide is at mid-point. You can paddle out directly from the beach.
There is a small car park in the village centre from which it is easy to access the western end of Downderry beach via a path/slipway.
The village and beach offer views of Looe Island to the west and Rame Head to the east and on clear days sight of the Eddystone Lighthouse eight miles to the south.
The village has a Church of England church, a Methodist chapel, a shop with a post office, a pub, a restaurant, a coffee shop and a primary school.
The Church of St. Nicolas Downderry began as a mission church to service the growing population of the village. The building dates from the late 19th century.
Approximately 770 yards east of the village centre is a rocky outcrop known locally as "Bass Rock", this is a popular fishing spot as it affords access to deeper water.
330 yards further on from Bass Rock are the cliffs of Coleadon, the promontory past these cliffs means access to the beach past this point is cut off at high tide.
Past Coleadon is a 660 yard stretch of beach which ends in a rocky outcrop known locally as "Shag rock" after the sea-birds of the same name who can be seen sitting on the rock drying their wings after diving for fish. This marks the end of easy foot access to the coastline. There is a path up the cliff which leads to the road above this beach, the climb is pleasant but reasonably strenuous. The ruins of an old Victorian lodge, known as "St. Germans hut", can be found half way up this cliff path.
Chain Home Bunkers
During the Second World War Downderry was the site of a Chain Home radar installation. The remains of this installation are present and can be found on the East side of the village. One of the bunkers has been converted into a residential garage, the other is no longer accessible from the road as it is now private property.
Wreck of the Gipsy
The wreck of the Gipsy can be found just off of Downderry in about twenty three feet of water 300 feet west of the slipway. Originally named 'The Rodney' she was an iron full-rigged ship built in 1874 by W. Pile & Company, Sunderland.
In November 1895, Rodney lost her figurehead in a gale in the English Channel, while en route from Gravesend, Kent to Sydney. The figurehead washed ashore at Whitsand Bay, Cornwall, six months later.
In 1897, the ship was sold to F. Boissière, of Nantes, France, and renamed Gipsy (the cross-over year, per Lloyd's, is 1896/97). Re-rigged then as a Barque. On December 7th, 1901, the vessel was wrecked, a total loss, at Downderry on the return voyage from Iquique (Chile) to France with a cargo of nitrate. The 1,447 tonnes ship lost her bearings and became stranded on the reef. She was blown apart by explosives as she had become a hazard to local fishing vessels. Parts of the wreck are strewn over a large area in about twenty five feet of water.
The Inn on the Shore
Liskeard Looe Rame Head Looe Island Portwrinkle Cornwall's Beaches
Eddystone Lighthouse Rame Head The Coastal Footpath Whitsand Bay
The Monkey Sanctuary Seaton Valley Country Park