STILLOENGLAND71-198 Days, 23 Miles on the SW COAST PATH from TORCROSS to KINGSBRIDGE ESTUARY and EAST PORTLEMOUTH. TOTAL MILEAGE 2661 with 415 TO GO.

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The Author obstructing the view of Slapton Sands and Slapton Ley Nature Reserve

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Mine ‘Ost. It’s an ‘appy life, ‘Enery.

 

 

 

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Getting there. The Black Worms represent progress on the S W Coast Path as far as Salcombe (South) and beyond Bideford(North). The Brown and Pink Worms are Natural England’s Proposed England  Coast Path due for completion by 2020

 

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

Every adventure has its peaks and troughs; this one reached its zenith in hospitality, accommodation, company, scenery,  weather and act of kindness, in one hit this visit, with one apparently irrecoverable slough of despond very late on in the walk. .  The actual topography followed suit in providing energy sapping rock climbs and descents  equal to anything so far attempted, much of it perched on cliff edges.

Without doubt, I was based at  the most exclusive accommodation in the entire walk.. Tricky to find and difficult to leave. Unlikely to be equalled in the rest of my voyage, I must make the most of it. Thank you Henry and Karen Staunton.

The first walking  day, Thursday, 29th September,  Number 197, was spent in the excellent and humorous company of old school friend  Henry Staunton. We first met on combined School Trip to  the Isle of Wight nearly sixty years ago.

Clever logistics and use of two vehicles and a helpful breeze, allowed us to walk nearly eight miles in glorious late summer sun from Stoke Fleming to Torcross, and have enough time to enjoy a proper meal  at The Globe, in Lostwithiel with Henry’s charming wife Karen and her sister Jo. Not my usual lone grazing formula. It’s fantastic having company on the walk, sharing numerous views and observations and frequently getting off piste through lack of concentration. Literally side tracked.

Next Walking Day 198, was my departure from the luxury basecamp, saying goodbye to mine hosts, driving to Kingsbridge and all day parking the workhorse RAV4. I jumped on Stagecoach Route 3 to Torcross intending to walk the coast path to East Portlemouth and take the ferry to Salcombe, where I could catch the bus back to the car at Kingsbridge. Easy-peasy. Keep up!

Everything was fine , I kept up a good pace despite the strenuous climbs and descents and at 6-10pm  I approached the ferry slipway with time to spare having walked 15 miles, and the possibility of getting an earlier bus. Sadly that day the ferry timings had switched to winter timetable when the last ferry departed at 6-00pm. Ah well! Looks like a £30-00 taxi fare the long way round. Only problem  – no taxis – and taxi drivers  elsewhere not willing to do the business.

Rapid reconnaissance of the locale could not detect a pub, nor B&B, nor shop. I was looking forward to either a night in the ferry shelter or a  10 mile walk on narrow unlit lanes to Kingsbridge and the car.  I didn’t fancy either – it looked like a toss up. Shelter or walk. This was certainly the deepest  trough I’d been avoiding  since the walk started. Seemingly I had no answer.

Out of nowhere,  came a lady with her father and daughter and I asked her if she had any thoughts on the matter. Without hesitation she offered her father to drive me, and in half an hour I was reunited with my car in Kingsbridge and willingly  parted with the taxi fare for his inconvenience and fuel. If that isn’t serendipity…..I didn’t get any names but I know their house and I have to return to start the walk again from this spot. I remember kindnesses.

 

The final decision of an up and down few days, Id heard rumours of an approaching rain deluge. Staying around and pitching the tent late at night and the likelihood  of heavy rain didn’t seem sensible. The alternative was to cut my losses and head for home. I think I stopped for coffee at every  Services on the length of the M5 and arrived  home around 4am.,

 

The story in pictures……

 

Head Honcho Henry and the accommodation that sets the gold standard – nowhere else can compare. The views over the River Fowey are incomparable. The tent would look out of place, so I reluctantly accepted a room….

 

The logistics for the walk today involved leaving one car at Torcross Carpark, the other in National Trust’s Little Dartmouth Carpark (first photo) and walking via Stoke Fleming (2nd photo) and Strete across Slapton Sands to pick up the first car and drive to the second car. The central picture shows the postbox in  Stoke Fleming, and the third is the final car park, day one walk end. I needed Henry’s  help with that , my brain hurts wondering where all the cars are. Similar exercises like this on my own have resulted in me forgetting where I’ve left the car and enlisting bus drivers to help find which village I left it in. Under Henry’s chairmanship this was unlikely.

 

 

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The post box in Stoke Fleming is at an awkward height – maybe they write long letters?

 

 

 

We started off inland at the National Trust Car Park near Little Dartmouth and headed through Stoke Fleming to the beach at Blackpool Sands

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The beaches at Slapton Sands near Torcross….

 

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…….and the monument to the US Army who were based here for training for the D Day Landings in World War Two.

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The first day’s walk was  completed here with nearly eight miles walked in wonderful conditions and excellent company.

 

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The second day , walking alone this time  continued from Torcross  heading for  Kingsbridge Estuary  via Start Point. Above , the view of Start Bay from the lookout at Start Point.

 

Past Beesands and Tinsey Head – maybe fishing boats for Nephew Mark’s art collection

 

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Overview of Start Point

 

Which was closed for my visit, so began the race against time to catch the bus back to my car  in Kingsbridge. The last bus leaves Salcombe at 7-30pm; I have to catch a ferry at East Portlemouth to get to Salcombe.

 

The Coast Path going away from Start Point clung to the cliff edge

 

Three hours left before the last bus goes to Kingsbridge and that’s the fast lane. Probably 6miles to go. The gate leads to the lookout Station at Prawle Point.

 

National Trust territory at Gammon Head

 

dsc_0662Looking back at Gammon Head and Prawle Point. I ‘ve just walked all that!

 

Leaving the Coast and turning into the East Portlemouth bank of the Kingsbridge Estuary. The last bus leaves in 80 minutes from Salcombe on the other side. Now where’s the ferry.

 

dsc_0668It’s now well gone six o’clock and I met a lady who told me the ferry slipway was only half a mile away,  but that the last ferry for the day had left. The winter timetable began today. I would miss my bus . In fact I was now stranded, no taxis , no shops, no B&B  – only the ferry shelter to pass the night in!

Surprisingly I omitted to take any more pictures whilst trying to solve my dilemma . I did get out of it because I checked and I’m now back home. It involved bludging a lift from a very kind family who helped out by dropping me off in Kingsbridge, right alongside my car. With inside information on the expected storm, I eschewed any desire to go pitch a tent and executively decided to start the drive home, via every Services on the M5, alternately swigging coffee or sleeping.  Serendipity rules. OK?

In my hurry very few photos wee taken in the final hroes – I will obtain a 20-20 hindsight lense and take some retrospective shots when I return, and seamlessly insert them in the text next time.

A bientot -sorry – can’t do the accents……

 

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