Progress on the South West Coast Path
The Crimson Worms have changed to Black. On the South Coast we have reached Stoke Fleming, past Dartmouth. On the North Coast, just past Westward Ho! near Bideford.
My continuing circumnavigation of England’s Coastline on foot, commenced around November 2013 and is due to finish November 2017. I have spent 196 days actually walking and the rest is – er – well – rest. The last walk was from last Thursday to Saturday, 22nd to 24th September, using OS Explorer Map OL 20; Stagecoach buses 12, 23, 18 and 3. This letter to our Grandkids is now necessarily brief following thousands of complaints from one or two readers that previous Episodes have been rambling.
Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,
I spent three interesting nights at Beverly Holiday Park, Paignton, a camping Holiday Centre, at the end of the Summer season. The facilities were excellent but the entertainment by Beverly Bear, not quite my style, but kids loved it! Shouldn’t they be back at school? The camp was a short bus ride from the South West Coast Path and on day one I walked Northwards along it from Paignton to Torbay Bowls Rink near Torre Abbey to connect with my last walk finish point at Corbyn’s Beach. Really!
I returned on the bus to Paignton and resumed walking Southwards as far as Berry Head, making a total of 18 miles for Day one including some very severe climbs, for me.
Day two was as bright and as hot as the previous day and weariness from the day before restricted me to 14 miles reaching the ferry crossing at Kingswear to Dartmouth.
The final day was cooler, and a stiffer wind came from the sea, but the gradients were steeper and I reached Stoke Fleming and Stagecoach Bus Route 3 taking me back to the car at Dartmouth with just enough energy to drive home.
Previously I hinted at a special guest joining me for part of this walk; I was a week out; this will happen next week; this was my only mishap this trip; the forgetfulness of the last visit has been forgotten.
I cannot describe the beauty of this particular stretch without rambling so I’ll best leave it to the pictures which follow.
See you same time next week?.
Following the S W Coast Path Northwards from Goodrington to Paignton Harbour .
Paignton Pier is one of the more colourful and better presented piers, but Popeye must not smoke whilst telling people not to smoke and I wasn’t allowed past the padlocked gates.
Promenades, paths, roads housing, railways and walls combined to make the route of the Coastal Path uncertain; I had to clamber over the stone wall because the gate was firmly locked. The green and lush planting is almost sub tropical, with palms and ferns
Tor Bay at its best. Coffee time. Torquay Station. A passenger liner was anchored in the bay the whole day, ferrying tourists to and fro. The last picture is at my rendezvous for joining the previous walk to the present journey.
Above, the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway, doesn’t quite reach Dartmouth, but serves Kingswear opposite on the River Dart. Letting off steam and whistling is heard here, all around Goodrington. The S W Coast Path heads directly into brambles scrub and overgrown cliff collapse, which viewed from the other side of the bay is quite alarming. I could clearly see the concrete steps I had started descending but turned back as they rnded abruptly in mid air.
Generally heading South on the Coast Path, passing through Broad Sands, Churston Point, Elberry Cove, The Grove on the way to Fishcombe Point and Churston Cove, with ancient woodlands and numerous coves and beaches.
Multi-tasking to extreme; as if the heat and steep climbs were not enough….
From Fishcombe Point to The RNLI Lifeboat at Brixham Harbour.and then things got quite exciting…. even more than observing the seal watching me again!
Over and above the call of duty, RNLI Volunteers Carol, Anthea and Di opened up the giftshop when I arrived after official closing time and I said I wanted the local lifeboat mug and their mugshots for my collection. All graciously delivered plus instructions and directions for my next port of call. The mug was Torbay Severn Class Lifeboat “Alec and Christina Dykes”
No sooner had I departed than the Lifeboat alarm went off, warning the imminent arrival of the crew and subsequent departure of the big boat. Probably keeping to safe speed limits within the harbour confines. I was by now almost at the lighthouse at the end of Brixham Harbour Breakwater when the lifeboat drew level and was clear to open up and surge out into the open sea on a rescue mission. I watched it for some time until it disappeared over the horizon. Very impressive and this was a calm sea. I wonder… no don’t go there! They are all very brave people not knowing what they might be going to and possibly under atrocious conditions. Thank you!
The journey from Brixham Harbour to Berry Head with, the Trinity House Station and views East and West, and South, total sea – I believe there be dragons that way…..well the Americas anyway.
I forgot to say the day had started with Breakfast At Tiffany’s – full English – and strolling through Brixham before what turned into an epic walk, despite the upside down diversion notices and comparing humoerous diversion strategies with Gavin and Stacey, two fiercely patriotic walkers in reverse mode to me, They had been on most walks that I had done and we rested awhile swapping tall tales.
The Stretch from Berry Head to Dartmouth has to go down as the most strenuous yet. The continual change of elevation was relentless and exhausting. I took every opportunity to rest and dawdle, take pictures and chat to fellow hikers. I must let the photos speak for themselves . Occasionally a memory or name will surface and if so I’ll comment. Starting with a diversion notice that wasn’t helpful until I met Georgina who pointed out all the distant features including Portland on the horizon behind her.
No such guidance from now on – these pictures are in chronological order at regular……..
….intervals from Berry Head to the mouth of the River Dart – no let up on the hills .
Turning the corner along the East bank of the Dart, I was expecting the ferry anytime…..
….but after several false trails down to the riverside I eventually found Kingswear slipway and boarded the ferry for Dartmouth.
Dartmouth ahead and getting straight back on to return to Kingswear and needing guidance to find the bus back to Berry Head where I’d parked the car, three angels appeared and advised me to catch the 18 bus all the way to Brixham and walk the rest to Berry Head.
Two of the trio wanted to feature in the blog, but no mugshot of the third. If you’re reading this I got back safely and, with a bit of route tweaking from the bus driver, just in darkness.
Day three, returning by car ferry with car to Dartmouth I quickly spotted the RNLI Shop. They have no local lifeboat but were very interested in my exploits and although no personalised local boat mug, Jo and Harold willingly gave me a mugshot. And also awarded me a RNLI Dartford Pin, which I wear with pride.
Leaving Dartmouth for Stoke Fleming via Dartmouth Castle to…
…Little Dartmouth and eventually Stoke Fleming where I caught the bus back to Dartmouth….
…where I’d left the car. Noted that the 3 bus eventually connects with Plymouth – useful for the next trip. That cloud suggests it will be good to get away home.