This is a record of my walk around the coastline of England in the form of a letter to our six grandchildren.
By November 2013, I had completed the 180 odd miles of Offa’s Dyke Trail and decided to extend the route northwards from Prestatyn, and Southwards from Chepstow. For variety, I occasionally completed stretches of both banks of the Thames below Woolwich, and when the weather permitted , I joined the North East and North West coasts by following Hadrian’s Wall.
I am trying to keep to the proposed route of the England Coast Path, which English Nature hope to have fully operational by 2020. Hopefully my journey will end before then and before my 70th birthday in November, 2017 when I should have made the complete circuit of England.
The Grand Total Mileage above represents the distance I have actually walked so far, including getting lost and making circuitous journeys when I have no other means of returning to where I started. It represents a very accurate total of miles walked by me, but a not very accurate measurement of England’s perimeter.
Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stanley, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,
The Crimson Worms are neck and neck heading for Land’s End on the South West Coast Path, and the third is curled up and dormant on the Isle of Wight. The one at Dawlish, Devon, has its tail at Maldon, Essex; and the other at Braunton, Devon stretches back to Cley next the Sea, in Norfolk. We’re going to visit that next…..
I stayed at Branscombe Airfield and Camping Site for the second time, I enjoyed it so much on the first visit in May this year . But this time they actually had aircraft activity. It was a bit of a surprise to see a light plane in amongst the tents and caravans. This one in the top left picture is due to be delivered to a collector in Eastern Europe, after being restored on the site. Bottom right is my Walking Card (courtesy of markbuck) with the link to this blog; which I distribute on my travels to anyone unfortunate enough to engage me in conversation. In return I distribute hopeful fishing boat scenes back to Mark for him to capture in water colour; go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/markbuck/
See if you can recognize some of the scenes amongst this very talented collection
Numbers and Summary
Walking Days 179 to 181, Monday to Wednesday, 18th to 20th July, 2016. Starting at Branscombe, and following the South West Coast Path westwards through Sidmouth, up Peak Hill to High Peak, over the River Otter to Budleigh Salterton, quickly past Straight Point live Firing Range, to Orcombe Point and the River Exe at Exmouth. I walked off the edge of O/S Explorer Map Number 115 at Exmouth and on to Number 110 across the River Exe to Starcross, by way of The Passenger Ferry, Orcombe. a four mile return trip, which I claim for my tally. My westward journey ended at Dawlish Warren and I returned to Exmouth, and found the RAV4 and so to home, very overheated. I used Buses from Stagecoach and First Buses, the 157 and 9A, for positioning and cooling down. Numbers for the temperature during all three days, reached unbelievable heights and one of them was the hottest day of the year.
I moderated my pace, and started early in the day for coolness and managed to accumulate 35 miles, with no actual getting lost included. This brings the Grand Total to 2469 miles and reduces the outstanding mileage to about 609. High points were at Weston Cliff Trig Station, 162m; Higher Dunscombe Cliff, 156m; 167m at Peak Hill and 157 at High Peak Trig Station. I ascended those very slowly.
My apologies for some of the shots. I think it got so hot at times that condensation formed in the camera. Some pictures appear as if in a heat haze, but since I’m not going to be repeating the walk any time soon, please treat the effect as artistic, and we’ll say no more about it.
A short stroll from the campsite at the Branscombe Airfield took me back onto the South West Coast Path and National Trust Property at Weston Cliff, and the sea. The land mass on the horizon does disappear in sea mist or heat haze – nothing to do with the camera. Back on unstable cliff edges, some of the earth slips were quite recent and more were due, judging by the fresh cracks opening up.
In little over half a mile the path took me on a switch back from Weston Cliff, 162m,to Weston Mouth, approaching sea level, back up to Higher Dunscombe Cliff at 156m. I struggled in the mid-afternoon heat.
The heated rollercoaster ride continued down through Salcombe Mouth back up to Salcombe Hill Cliff, more National Trust Territory, then descended into Sidmouth, where, just off the Promenade, I found the Bus back to Branscombe Cross. Well, nearly. The bus driver said it was too dangerous to drop me off at those crossroads and he let me off at the Donkey Sanctuary instead, where I could walk the back lanes to the Airfield. Judging by the continual braying , it must have been feeding time. Sorry no pictures – it was also closed! But it did put me in mind of our new Foreign Secretary….
Next morning, I hid the car in shade, bright and early to walk in the cool of the morning with very few people around. I found Jacob’s Ladder on the way out of Sidmouth; maybe I would have been tempted to have a dip later on. It was a steep descent to the beach with no way out other than returning up the zig-zag path which carried on to Peak Hill and High Peak 157m in about a mile. That set the pace for the rest of the day. Slow.
Part of the S W CP route up Peak Hill combines with a busy lane , which has a six foot width restriction and no footpath. Survivors are encouraged to take the steep staircase hidden in the undergrowth to continue the long slow climb to High Peak
. High Peak , the trig station and the Ladram Bay view from the top
Ladram Bay used to have two arches but in the last century they have eroded to isolated lumps, as depicted in the moisture affected picture below
Maximum use of the land – the farmers bring in the harvest of silage right up to the cliff edge,next year the field might have slipped seawards
The River Otter comes between me and Budleigh Salterton. I could have forded it at the U-Bend but at waist deep and slippery and slimey, I couldn’t risk the collateral damage should I slip. I was carrying too much technology, so the two mile diversion inland was acceptable. It was a nature reserve and had its own charm.
Especially for Mark – Budleigh Salterton beach with failed fishing boats – I’ll keep looking.
And the path out of Budleigh – uphill of course
From near West Down Beacon, the view over Straight Point Rifle Range to the left. The shooting can be heard for miles – pity the caravan site?
Littleham Cove fromStraight Point – rapidly eroding cliffs turn the water red – looking back to Budleigh Salterton.
The Geoneedle at Orcombe Point celebrating Earth’s structure along the Jurassic Coast and the view of the River Exe emerging into the English Channel.
The Lifeboats at the RNLI Station ; my souvenir mug tells me the main vessel is a Shannon Class lifeboat ‘R and J Welburn’ 13-03.
Now at Exmouth Ferryboat Terminus at The Point with a hostelry to slake my thirst and chatting to Gordon prior to catching my bus to Sidmouth.
I forget all the names – I said I would – but I did promise Mr and Mrs John, Dave, Tim and Phil an appearance in the Blog. They invited me two nights running into their banter tent, and cross examined me on the Walk. Between them , and probably not in their imagination, they had climbed , run , cycled, spieled, fished and walked most challenges worth a go in Britain and Europe. Have I missed anything?
They were surprisingly agreeable too, especially as I was the sole Southerner amongst a melange of Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire. Also surprisingly I kept mostly sober, not all the inmates could claim likewise. I wasn’t going to jeopardise my walk with a hangover. Good to meet you all and hope your golf , cricket, walking drinking camping holiday is memorable. And you manage to shake off the after effects of the bloody nose, snoring, smoking and flatulence. We shouldn’t go into detail. And finally I really did not know that about Billy Connelly, and the slur to the family name about Michael McIntyre will best be forgotten…. maybe… .
And so I left the Campsite just as the above party was waking from its slumbers, I was about to make my way home via Exmouth , the Ferry to Starcoss and a quick ten mile walk to Dawlish Warren and back, four miles attributable to the boat journey.
I will be back to Dawlish Warren only when it is very much cooler….
Top – Exmouth Harbour new and old;
Middle – one end of the jetty at Starcross is the River Exe Ferry and the other end is the Dawlish main railway line, so heroically and rapidly reinstated after the storms of two winters ago;
Bottom – the inlet at Cockwood, tidal and muddy at low tide as I found when I tried a short cut, on the way to Dawlish Warren. On the return journey, I was forced into it because I could see the ferry approaching the jetty and it wouldn’t wait! I also saved precious minutes crossing the beach to access the jetty via the ladder, rather than the circuitous journey through the Railway Station. But don’t try that when the tide’s in.
The Ferry journey across the River Exe, to and fro, two miles each way, very relaxing on a hot summer’s day…. byeeeee… see you next in Norfolk?