STILLOENGLAND/69, 193 Days, 30 Miles on the S W COAST PATH, DAWLISH WARREN to TORBAY MARINA. GRAND TOTAL 2601 with 475 to go.

 

                          Longmeadow Farm Campsite, Shaldon and fellow campers.

MAPS

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       The Crimson Worms are slowly wriggling their way to Land’s End, I think the Southern one will win. This trip’s 30 mile haul is barely perceptible on the England Map;  so to make it feel I’ve achieved, I’ve added the West Hub’s Map,  below. Now it looks like  looks like I’m getting there

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This is Episode 69 in a series of letters to our Grandchildren who are following my walking the proposed England Coast Path, which is due to be fully in place by 2020. Meanwhile I am joining up the dots of existing well known coastal walks, plus Hadrian’s Wall and Offa’s Dyke to complete the England circumnavigation, often getting very lost in the (aging)process, but hope to be finished by November, 2017

 

 

 

Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,

Extra holiday activities for Rosie and Lauren involves packing up and moving house; for Stan and Jake, they have learnt how to ride a bike, with Rosie on her balance bike and Maisie attempting to dance on one leg. She is much better than Nanny and Bobl, who are learning to  Jive on all four legs. Strictly chaos. Don’t forget the Conga practice!

Now the School Holidays are over, the S W Coast path has emptied  and the Summer temperatures are reducing, I returned to Dawlish Warren to tackle more of the fragile,  undulating South Coast heading towards Torquay.

I stayed at Longmeadow Farm Campsite, Shaldon,  on the West bank of the River Teign opposite Teignmouth. Eexcellent facilities , plus a pet farm with a variety of small farmyard animals. I got on with the pigs best and their constant snuffling. Farm produce was for sale. I didn’t buy any bacon.

 

Some useful numbers. On Thursday, September 15th, Walking Day 191, I pitched up at Longmeadow Farm Campsite in Shaldon, opposite Teignmouth, Devon for 2  nights.  A charming site overlooking the River Teign and mainline railway, with added pet zoo to entertain the children , adults and me. I  qualify for either category. The pigs were excellent company. The site was also excellent. The animals were very tame,  and the electric hook-up, the two free fridge – freezers were a boon  in the late summer heatwave.

Open brackets: The electrics are now a requirement on my camp site selection procedure; ‘fraid I’m getting a bit soft as I immature; the cell phone, battery back ups, laptop, kettle, sandwich maker and inspection light all require power. Previously, the car coped but draining the battery and jump starting the RAV4 laden with gear, not my idea of a gentle walk round the coast. Even so, I still always park facing downhill.  Close brackets!

Get back to the numbers!

This trip lasted to walking day 193, Saturday ,  17th September and covered 30 miles, bringing the Grand Total miles walked round England’s Coast to 2601, with about 475 miles left to go. I wonder if I’ve got enough left in the tank?  After Day 191, I was beginning to doubt it, the constantly undulating cliff edge and numerous diversions and alternatives were major obstacles to staying found , as opposed to getting lost. And the recent 5 week lay off was  throwing gremlins in my stamina. Not to mention the recent bout of forgetfulness. I was without essential equipment, having mislaid my bag of navigation and recharging equipment before  setting off from home. I then managed to leave my sticks somewhere before even starting the walk in Teignmouth. I probably have now reached the stage where I need a minder. Henry – take note. Hopefully, if things work out, Henry will be joining me, later,  for a day, from Torquay onwards and beyond – or till something gives! Please don’t expect too much, Henry. In fact expect anything. There is little or no regulation in the Walking Industry.

Viz:- Recent clause about to be added to terms and conditions

In the event of flagging energy, inclement weather, adverse wind, (flatulence or any inconvenience ) I have deemed it perfectly acceptable  to seek refuge in any suitable hostelry or similar for as long as it takes. I have actually given up alcohol, except emergencies and special occasions. It is surprising how many emergencies and special  occasions six grandchildren can create, Maisie?

And a corollary: Any  form of transport, other than feet or ferry, is perfectly in order to get to said hostery/home/or place of safety, providing no account is taken of mileage accrued during  rescue.                                                                                                                                                    I have in mind   piggyback/wheelchair/wheelbarrow/bus/taxi/ambulance/fire truck/ RNLI/ Air/Sea Rescue. Some of this has actually happened…..

ps my mislaid bag of navigational  etc essentials turned up at Auntie Annie’s, Rosie’s and Lauren’s  new house where I had mistaken it for a removal item to be transferred from the old house. It is generally agreed Bobl is better off walking rather than helping house moving. Carry on!

I was doing the numbers – other useful numbers were 22 and 32, which were the go-to  Stagecoach buses shadowing my route.  The drivers deserve accolades; diversions were in operation in Torquay while the authorities vandalised the streets by completely ripping them up in a most haphazard manner. Lack of direction, overhanging trees and parked vehicles added to the chaos and travelling on the top deck was better than Alton Towers.

Modes of transport – top left Teignmouth Station Platforms 1 and 2  ; the ubiquitous Stagecoach 22 – If you wait 10 minutes the 32 comes along too; the Cliff railway looked hairy to me – viewed from a distance you could see the cliff collapse nearby;   all aboard via the gangplank for the Teignmouth to Shaldon Passenger Ferry; and the train service from Teignmouth to Dawlish Warren was swift but a bit pricey – they don’t take the oldies bus  pass.

 

Got to finish the numbers…Platform 1 and 2 at Teignmouth and also Dawlish Warren can be added in to the equation; very useful in studying the Dawlish coastal railway route so recently destroyed in storms and so impressively reinstated by Network Rail.

Aside; The tale of  O/S Explorer Map OL/20 -South Devon. My trip this time was mostly on OS Explorer map 110, but I usually carry the preceding map and the subsequent maps, just in case I’m ‘really lost’. I did a deal with Dash-4-it and then Millets and eventually got all the English Explorer Maps with blue on them ie Coastal Maps,  except for some reason OL 20 was lost. Bad omen? I realised I was short and rapidly got Millets to courier the missing item which arrived just in time. I popped it in the Navigational/Electrical hook up bag, which as we all now know I left at A-A’S, R’s and L’s.  Realising I would be lost without map continuity, I needed to get  a third version.

I use the M5 on my way to Devon, and am at the stage of life where stopping at every services is mandatory. Serendipity dictated that on my way to the facilities I passed a WHSmith posing under the banner of Roadchef, all brand spanking new having been recently refurbished. Worth a go – the Map section wasn’t comprehensive, but the one I needed was there waiting – new issue too, containing the mobile download – unlike others . I could now not be ‘ totally lost’ – but  don’t rule out just ‘lost’.

The twist in the tale was having now purchased three versions of OL 20 and mobile downloads, I never covered enough ground to actually make use of its contents. I’m still on Explorer Map 110 ! But they do overlap a little bit.

I wonder if Millets/ Dash4 It/ WHSmith do refunds? Albeit the only receipt I have is from Roadchef?

 

At last we have come to the end of preliminaries; so to the journey;

Day one I left camp by car to Teignmouth Station and took the train to Dawlish Warren, returning via the SWCP and Dawlish, Holcombe and a tour of Teignmouth. It was late and all usual facilities were closed ; Pier, Beachcomber, RNLI Shop but the Two Annes – the lifeboat was deployed on an exercise and the Harbour was busy and interesting.

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The Two Annes Lifeboat had gone AWOL from the RNLI Station when I arrived – maybe it’s out on a rescue

Next day, I returned this time by ferry from Shaldon and visited the same venues and purchased usual souvenirs of RNLI but lost my sticks. Back across the very fierce River Teign by ferry and onto the SWCP again and steeply up to The Ness and along the fragile cliff edge.

Passing by Smugglers Cove and Labrador Bay, Maidencombe, Watcombe, Torquay Golf Club, to Babbacombe all the time climbing and descending in very short order. At the Golf club I was overtaken by a couple of couples doing the same route as me but faster – well there were four of them. As a group we found our way up more hills, they were due to take the busroute back to Shaldon. I quickly executively decided to take the bus back too. The hills had found my Achilles heel, and every other vulnerable spot in my anatomy.

The final day I broke camp. And learnt a valuable lesson.  When I first arrived and set up camp, hooked up the electrics and boiled the first kettle, I began to notice a burning smell. Smelling is not my strong point, actively or passively. I kept checking the electrics. Nothing obvious, but I disconnected overnight. The next day was the same , as was the final day, but I couldn’t find a culprit.

Until I packed the groundsheet. Beneath it was the remnants of a buried camp fire! Not alight, but the dampness was sufficient to create the smell of burning and accordingly an associated whiff of fumes. And I had pitched right on top of it unknowingly. And possible silent suffocation.  Most sites do not allow open fires for obvious reasons and there are strong fire and fume  warnings about lighting  camping  gas cylinders in tents and awnings. This is another good reason for not allowing it.

Eventually,like a Phoenix from the Ashes, I packed the car, and set off early back to the restart point in Torquay. Out of the fire into the frying pan, I left the car somewhere in the morass of roadworks, I struck out on foot to cover as many miles as I could whilst leaving enough energy to complete the drive back to Shropshire.

I succeeded in negotiating Black Head, Hope’s Nose, Thatcher Point, Daddyhole Cove and the descent into Torbay New Harbour and Marina. I found a bus stop at the bowls club where I caught the 32 back to the road works and found the car first time, overheating in the heat wave. I’ll get out of the kitchen for a while.

And so to Shropshire.   Where the lush green grass is growing too fast for me to keep up…

Next Start point –

The bus stop at Torbay Bowls Club.

The same again in pictures;

 

Top left; I had the pick of sites so I pitched on top of a previous camp fire – and no that is not my TV Aerial; Dawlish Warren re-start of the S W Coast Path heading for Torquay; it wasn’t quite high tide so I could get on the path alongside the sea- views looking back to Starcross and ahead to Dawlish; Brunels failed Atmospheric Railway almost ran along here, enlargen to read why it failed.

 

The new mainline resurrected after the washout at Dawlish; showing the centre, the railway station and  Coryton Cove as I head for the hills again.

 

 

Looking back at Dawlish and heading for Teignmouth – you cannot miss that sign….

 

 

 

Below

Looking for fishing boats on Shaldon beach ; nothing suitable but I found the ferry to Teignmouth

 

 

 

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The Two Annes back in her cradle after an exercise

 

 

 

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The caption says the crew is Humphrey Vince, Adam Truhol and Paul Wright and the star of the show is ‘Two Annes’, the Teignmouth Lifeboat

 

The Pier at Teignmouth with views of the town and up and down the coast. The end is in sight but not open to visitors as it is in  a dilapidated state.

 

 

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My favourite Coffee house in Teignmouth, where I left my sticks all day and came back  to find they had looked after them all day. The latte wasn’t bad either….

 

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Babs and Penny were perfectly happy and enjoying their voluntary work at the Teignmouth RNLI Shop until I suggested adding making coffee to their repertoire…. those are my purchases on the counter..

The ferry back to Shaldon from Teignmouth crosses a vigorous stretch of the River Teign

 

 

 

 

 

Still very hilly and fragile , the SWC Path takes me through Maidencombe, Watcombe and St Marychurch  past the Cliff Railway to Babbacombe. Looking back the Railway appears to be quite close to a recent slip.

 

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I met Nigel, Val, Derrick and Roz, after they caught up and overtook me alongside the Torquay Golf Club. I managed to keep pace for a while; I think we were all suffering from the switchback. I think the final stretch at Anstey ‘s Cove  heading for the Palace Hotel decided everyone to start finding a bus stop and attached bus taking us back to Shaldon.

 

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And here is that bus – eventually.

The final day took me from The Palace around the coast by Black Head towards Hope’s Nose

 

Hope’s Nose was busy with itinerant fishermen in many of the nooks and crannies, it was rugged and difficult to access without a bit of climbing. I took my time, and aroused the curiosity of the anglers , who wanted to know who I worked for. They appeared happy that I was retired and chatted about their not so good fishing today. I retreated from Hope’s Nose and  I moved on  further round the SW Coast Path along the cliff edge again.

Thatcher Point, Thatcher House and Thatcher Rock hove into view and I followed the path as it descended into Meadfoot Beach

 

Thatcher House recedes and a Devon  ice cream van appears; so too did Christine Hammond in the final strides of her South West Coast Path Walk as we passed going in opposite directions. How does one long distance walker recognise another? Well it helps if you are both following a known trail in opposite directions; and then the equipment is generally well used and reduced to minimum necessities – no frills; and something in the eye by way of steely determination and certain efficient  way of walking; and guesswork . Often loner but in Christine’s case two Sherpa/handmaidens were tending her equipment in the background. She gave details of her S W Coast Path trip as 60 miles to go. That’s a great effort. The total is about 630 miles. She looked as if she didn’t get as lost as I do.  I have her blog details of   birthdaywalk2015.blogspot.co.uk  and I will compare notes when I’ve written this up. God luck Christine ! I hope you finish in style.

It’s always nice to meet someone likeminded – we agreed that we had got our territory back now the tourists had departed. Another attribute – very possessive! And no BMI issues.

Two quirky photos – you can always tell when I’m tired and emotional and stop concentrating on the walk  – I get artistic with the photos – it uses up time! It took ages to balance that toy boat…… and the SW Coast Path actually goes through someone’s turret

 

Top Left; Torbay Marina entrance and the other two show the East Pier from the west Pier  and vice versa – just to prove I don’t miss anything out…

 

……AND FINALLY…..

 

Grid ref  SX 907 634

My restart bus shelter at Corbyn’s beach just opposite the Torre Abbey Bowls Club.

 

I’m going home…. Maybe back next week?

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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