Thursday, 10 August 2017

Home Ground

Day Forty Two - Starcross to Sidmouth 21 km (13 miles).
Time on route 5:00hrs, walking time 4:40hrs.


Thursday 10 August 2017
Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 21.10.58
I am well and truly on home ground right now as I live just a few km up the river in Exeter.  My daughter is back home and I thought it would be good to walk a leg with her.  Added to this my aunt and uncle are in Sidmouth with the Sidmouth Folk Week and it became a grand plan.  Well, it would have been a perfect plan - to get the train to Starcross, ferry to Exmouth and walk to Sidmouth - if the ferry had started early enough.  But, alas, it only starts at 1010 which was too late for our rellie rendezvous in Sidmouth.

So yesterday, Wednesday, I drove down to Starcross and took the ferry across to Exmouth.  And back of course.  Which completes that little piece of the SWCP jigsaw.
2017-08-09 Starcross to Exmouth Ferry  16.09.55
Looking up the Exe.
2017-08-09 Starcross to Exmouth Ferry  16.17.12
And towards Exmouth.
2017-08-09 Starcross to Exmouth Ferry  16.42.03
The ferry dog.  So cute.
2017-08-09 Starcross to Exmouth Ferry  16.38.10
And this morning Caitlin and I drove to Exmouth and were on the path at 0845.  We strolled along the Exmouth seafront, which we have done numerous times over her lifespan, and headed up to the Geoneedle at Orcombe Point (which I don't ever think I've been to).  What we particularly loved was the metal tip which blended into the blue sky.
2017-08-10 2 Geoneedle
We climbed up and over the Straight Point rifle range and on towards Budleigh Salterton.  We had to detour at West Down, albeit only 5 metres, to visit my favourite trig.  I was off sick from work a decade or so ago and I would find solace in driving to Budleigh, walking up to this trig, giving it a hug and ambling home.  We have an understanding this trig and I.
2017-08-10 4 Budleigh Trig 48
We dropped down into Budleigh and stopped for coke at one of the kiosks by the sea front.  I pointed out the spot where I'd changed Caitlin's nappy behind a beach hut 21 years ago ("thanks Mum").
2017-08-10 5 Budleigh 10.48.27
We had to walk up the Otter to cross it and the views back towards Budleigh were lovely as the sun reflected off the cliffs.
2017-08-10 5 Budleigh 11.50.18
Apparently this is what I look like walking the coast path.
2017-08-10 Walking
We dropped down into Ladram Bay and back up out.
2017-08-10 6 Ladram Bay
My aunt and uncle were on a collision course with us (intentional) from Sidmouth and we rendezvoused at High Peak.  It was an easy stroll down towards Sidmouth.
2017-08-10 7 Sidmouth 13.35.14
As we neared the Clock Tower, our tea and cake spot of choice, they veered off to avoid the up/down of the coast path at Jacobs Ladder which I, of course, stuck to.
2017-08-10 7 Sidmouth 13.36.37
It was great to have coke, cake, chips in the sun.
2017-08-10 7 Sidmouth 14.09.24
We wandered across the beach towards the bus stop and then it took Caitlin and I 2.5 hours to get back with the bus journey (road works in Ottery St Mary), a quick food shop (which included a lesson in how to shop in Aldi) and heavy traffic.

PS.  As a total aside, the Sidmouth Folk Week home page has a photo on it which has my daughter dancing with my cousin from 2016.  She was hanging on for dear life...
Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 21.30.13

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

More Trains - Up the Exe

Day Forty One - Maidencombe to Starcross 17.6 km (10.9 miles).
Time on route 6:45hrs, walking time 4:45hrs.


Monday 17 July 2017
Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 22.04.14
To start our walk we caught a taxi to Maidencombe as I'd had a major fail on reading the bus timetable (irritating).  Anyway.  We set off in the sun for an initial 'moderate to strenuous' section towards Shaldon.  Around Commons Plantation the path is covered by windswept trees.
2017-07-17 _2 Around Commons Plantation
At Bundle Head I came across an old foe.  Being in company I felt terribly brave and walked within a few metres of these beasts.  Alone I would have given them a far wider berth.
2017-07-17 _3 Bundle Head 07
The path provides a wonderful view of Teignmouth as you drop into if off The Ness.
2017-07-17 _4 Teignmouth view
There are two routes across the River Teign.  The official one being the Shaldon/Teignmouth ferry and, if that's not running due to bad weather, the road bridge.  Fortunately the ferry was running so we hopped on board for the 10 minute trundle across the river.
2017-07-17 _5 Shaldon Teignmouth Ferry 29.41
Our skipper was really interesting and chatted to us whilst we traversed about how suddenly the environmental conditions can halt the ferry (standing waves, spring tides, high wind etc).  Fascinating.
2017-07-17 _5 Shaldon Teignmouth Ferry 35.34
Looking back as we left the boat.
2017-07-17 _5 Shaldon Teignmouth Ferry 40.21
We stopped in Teignmouth for a drink and to catch up on work.  As it was Monday meant that emails were coming in thick and fast, so we stopped for a while to keep our business alive and kicking before the next leg.
2017-07-17 _6 Teignmouth lunch 10.30
Martin, being South African, found this local hot chocolate name quite interesting.  Zuma = hot chocolate?  There's a sniff of racism to be read into that.
2017-07-17 _6 Teignmouth lunch 02.15
As we left I noticed the local Teignmouth art - very creative.
2017-07-17 _6 Teignmouth art
The tide was high but not so bad to prevent us walking the Teignmouth to Dawlish seawall, which is frequented by the Penzance to London trains.
2017-07-17 _7 Teignmouth to Dawlish
Looking down on Coryton's Cove near Dawlish.
2017-07-17 _8 Dawlish 05.35
And then up and over into Dawlish.
2017-07-17 _8 Dawlish 10.06
This was in interesting pavement demarcation on entering Dawlish.  It delineates where TDC, Torbay District Council stops and NR starts.  I'm just not sure what NR is.
2017-07-17 _8 Dawlish 12.05
We had a late lunch in Dawlish (more emails to answer...) and then headed off towards Dawlish Warren.
2017-07-17 _8 Dawlish
Once you reach Dawlish Warren the path follows the main road, albeit it on a separate footpath for some of it.  But it's flat and fast.

The tide was out at Cockwood Harbour.
2017-07-17 _9 Starcross
Shortly we arrived at Starcross railway station.  I can see the next leg of my journey, the ferry across to Exmouth, but that's for another day.  ;-)
2017-07-17 _9 Starcross end

Sunday, 23 July 2017

All things English and Coast-Pathy

Day Forty - Brixham to Maidencombe 25.9 km (16.1 miles).
Time on route 7:50hrs, walking time 6:20hrs.


Sunday 16 July 2017
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For day 40 and day 41 I was joined on the route by my business partner, Martin.  He is South African so is used to large scenery: the vastness of the Karoo, the huge mountains of the Drakensburg, the gigantic waves rolling in off the Indian Ocean in Durban. I figured the South West Coast Path would be a change with its hidden coves, shady woodland paths, cliff top meadows and cosy tea shops.

We caught the train to Paignton then a bus to Brixham where we picked up the route. Brixham was a little greyer than last time but still sparkling and pleasant.
2017-07-16 _1 Leaving Brixham 6.27
A creative mosaic on the way out.
2017-07-16 _1 Leaving Brixham 9.50
And what looks to be a Banksy.
2017-07-16 _1 Brixham 5
The first cove we came to was Churston: the first of many sharp descents and steep rises of the day.
2017-07-16 _2 Churston Cove
We slightly lost our way by the golf club.  How embarrassing for two chartered surveyors although, to be fair, I was hogging the map so it was all my fault.

Broadsands is an attractive sandy beach enhanced by a medley of stripy beach huts.
2017-07-16 _4 Broadsands 3.05
The first of many hundreds we saw on Sunday.
2017-07-16 _4 Broadsands 9.21
We soon came across the Paignton to Kingswear railway and were rewarded by a steam train huffing past Goodrington Sands.
2017-07-16 _5 Near Goodrington 7.48
2017-07-16 _5 Near Goodrington 8.08
Our route then took us past the conglomerations of Paignton and Torquay.  I felt somewhat overdressed in my walking boots, with my unkempt windswept hair, stomping past all the holiday makers.

Paignton Pier.
2017-07-16 _6 Paignton pier
Although tourist and shopping crowds aren't my favourite SWCP scene it does provide decent refreshment opportunities and we enjoyed a late lunch in Torquay.  Late because I hate breaking the day too early - I like to be at least halfway before I allow myself (or any of my poor walking companions) a stop.
2017-07-16 _4 Torquay
We climbed out of Torbay past Hope's Nose and turned back to look at Hope Cove.
2017-07-16 _7 Hope Cove
What beautiful foliage-covered walls and archway near Black Head.
2017-07-16 _8 Nr Black Head
Although I'd only been able to find accommodation at Babbacombe I wanted to press on so that day 41 wasn't too long.  So we pushed on up past Withy Point grabbing a welcome coke at a tea shop that was just closing.
2017-07-16 _9 Withy Point
Oddicombe Beach followed soon after and I loved the walkways.
2017-07-16 _10 Oddicombe beach
I hadn't realised it had a furnicular so we paused to watch a swap over of these cantilevered rail cars.
2017-07-16 _11 Oddicombe railway 6.27
We stopped at Maidencombe and fell into the Thatched Tavern at 1815 only to find they had closed the bar 15 minutes earlier!  We must have looked desperate (it was a hot day) and they kindly served us a cold wine/beer as we had 45 minutes to wait for our bus back down to Babbacombe.

As ever, it was a wonderful day on the coast path.  And, SWCP, not a bad show-and-tell at all for your visiting South African.  Not only did you deliver the expected coves, glades, meadows, beaches and pier, but you threw in a steam train and a funicular railway.  Nice one.
2017-07-16 Babbacombe

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Birthday Sun, Sea and Strawberries

Day Thirty Nine - Dartmouth to Brixham 17.3km (10.7 miles).
Time on route 6:20hrs, walking time 5:10hrs.


Sunday 25 June 2017
Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 09.55.41
It was my birthday last Sunday and what better treat than to walk the coast path with my daughter.  She was more than happy to have a stroll with me but baulked a little at the idea of 17 km.  This is from a girl who has walked 45 miles in 2 days with Ten Tors so I figured it was all bluff and bluster.

We drove to Brixham, parked up and headed down to the bus stop.  Halfway down I double-checked that Riona had the map.  "What map Mum?" she enquired.  "I left a map in the car but I thought that was just to get us here".  Needless to say I achieved a record running rate, for a 48 year old in walking boots, uphill, to retrieve said map.

We caught the bus to Kingswear, had coffee at the station (very retro and quaint) before heading off.
2017-06-25 1 Kingswear 12
First things first, a nicely painted benchmark.
2017-06-25 1 Kingswear 04
We headed south east towards the Inner Froward Point, looking back to enjoy our last views of the Dart Estuary.
2017-06-25 2 River Dart 56
Opposite Dartmouth Castle are similar defensive structures on the Kingswear side. This is the once heavily fortified Brownstone Battery.
2017-06-25 3 Fort Brownstone Battery  0.42
A very vertiginous path down from the Battery.
2017-06-25 3 Fort Brownstone Battery  1.49
We turned east at Froward Cove and the offshore rocks of Shooter, Shag and Mew came into view.
2017-06-25 4 Froward Cove
As soon did Sharkham Point.
2017-06-25 5 Sharkham Point
It was a day full of undulations - 'strenuous' according to the guide book.  We had periods of flat but similar period of steep descents and ascents.  This is looking back to our descent to Scabbacombe Sands.  It looks quite mild on the photo but trust me, I would have struggled if it was wet and slippery.
2017-06-25 6 Scabbacombe Sands
We stopped for strawberries on a bench above Long Sands then descended again to Man Sands (I'm still keeping my eye out for Woman Sands).
2017-06-25 7 Long Sands
Such lovely views.
2017-06-25 8 Torbay
We arrived somewhat hot and bothered at Berry Head as the sun was hotter than we'd anticipated.  We spent a happy 45 minutes in the Guardhouse Cafe then wandered up to Berry Head.  I knew what to look for on the way as I'd bagged this one before in 2012 - TP1334.  And, kerchung, there it was.  A little less purple than previously but still lovable and huggable.
2017-06-25 10 BerryHead trig TP1334 0
2017-06-25 10 BerryHead trig TP1334 trig
Walking east to the Head of the Berry you reach the look out, with it's lovely bench mark.
2017-06-25 10 Berry Head 2.05
2017-06-25 10 Berry Head 1.56
And then the lighthouse. At which point I was photo-bombed.
2017-06-25 10 Berry Head 2
We set off the last km or so around Torbay and down into Brixham.
2017-06-25 Brixham 6.54.12
A beautiful harbour.  Looking forward to setting off here on my next leg.
2017-06-25 Brixham 7.08.00