Today was quite a short walk as I begin my second day walking along the SWCP in Cornwall. It is a grey overcast and dull day, but quite warm, dry with a stiff breeze, which makes for good walking weather in my view.
I make use of the NT car Park at Hendersick, which is free and a rarity in Cornwall. I then drove my moped along the coast to the small hamlet of Portwrinkle and then began walking west . The coast path here has a series of up and downs, which tested the legs and stamina.
I passed through a hamlet called Downderry. It was the place that 8 years ago myself and my wife rented a small cottage above the sea. We took our small Jack Russell, Scampi with us. The cottage was quite small, but cosy, leaving the windows open at night we could hear the waves crashing on the shore below. One day we were walking along the beach and got talking to another gentleman, as we spoke, out of the corner of my eye I could see that Scampi had cocked his leg and was weeing up the chaps Wellington boots! I was mortified and it was quite difficult keeping the conversation going! The three of us were very happy there and the thoughts of my beautiful little dog, long since departed, were with me.
After Downderry, a cliff fall has meant that the footpath has been diverted across the hillside and onto the road. I continued into Looe and crossed the Looe River which divides this small coastal town. I follow the road west out of the town and come to a sculpture sited on rocks above the river. The bronze sculpture is of Nelson – a distinctive ‘one-eyed’ scarred bull grey seal, who for 25 years made Looe harbour and the surrounding area his home.
The next couple of miles is quite gentle walking as I climb back up above Talland Bay and make my wat slightly inland to the car park at Hendersick.
Distance today = 11.5 miles
Total distance = 484 miles
Today I would be saying goodbye to Devon and entering Cornwall on the next leg of the SWCP. I parked at Crafthole, outside of the wonderfully named Finnygook Inn. I caught then caught the bus back to Plymouth.
I begin walking from Cremyll, a small village that sits across the short of water known as The Narrows separating the village form the hustle and bustle of Plymouth. I walk around the delightful Estate of Mount Edgcumbe, passing a lovely Orangery and a host of follies. The path stays in woodland for the next couple of miles, which is a relief as the sun is quite strong. I enter Cawsand Bay and head for the small village of Kingsland and its winding narrow streets. I head out towards Penlee point and catch my last glimpse of Plymouth as I head West.
I can see my next objective quite easily, as Rame Head is a distinctive landmark for miles around, capped with the small ruined medieval chapel of St. Michael’s. Rame Head offers a grand view both up and down the coast and featured in the recent film Mr Turner. In fact Turner did paint some of the scenery hereabouts. At Tregantle I reach the MOD firing ranges. I heard gun fire for the last couple of miles and as I suspected a red flag was firing, this meant a small diversion up the B3247 road for a few miles. I took the opportunity while a passing a ‘greasy-spoon’ van in a lay-by to myself a burger and enjoy the view back towards Plymouth, which seemed really close. The path soon dropped down the grassy cliffs to Finnygook Lane and Port Wrinkle.
The walk took about 5.5 hours.
Distance today = 13 miles
Total distance = 472.5 miles
My last walking day in South Devon and a walk I was looking forward to as this would be my time I had ever visited Plymouth. It was a another beautiful and hot summer day, with not a cloud in the sky.
I parked in Wembury and caught the bus into Plymouth. Although the journey was not long the bus was packed with school children on their way to school in Plymouth. I go off the bus in the centre of Plymouth and made for the Cremyll Ferry terminal in Stonehouse. It is 10 miles to walk through Plymouth around Plymouth Sound, which is not surprising as the path follows many inlets along its way. I head for the old Royal William Yard, a collection of navy Buildings, now opened up to accommodation and shops. The path skirts the buildings with good views across the Narrows to Cremyll and Cornwall.
I follow the well signposted SWCP markers to Plymouth Hoe with its beautiful vista across The Sound. Drakes Island in the middle of the Sound catches the eye. There is an amazing amount of history involved in and around Plymouth, far more than be described here! I pass the wharf where the Pilgrim fathers set sail from in 1620. I passed on through the marina and then on through the industrial part of the city to Cattedown. from here I headed for and crossed over the River Plym at the Laira Bridge. I was now heading south for a while passing through the suburb of Oreston and circling around Hooe Lake. I eventually arrived at Mount Batten point and walked around the large fort. From the fort I head south-east again and began to move out of the suburbs and into open country.
I lost my way for a very short time at Staddon Heights around the golf course, but found my way onwards to Fort Bovisand. The next few miles on to Wembury was along low cliffs and very easy walking. Soon Wembury church came into view and I knew my walk would end there. A lovely days walk through a lovely city and shoreline.
Distance today = 13.5 miles
Total distance = 459.5 miles
Today would turn out to be a very complicated day. My original plan was to drive to Bigbury-on-Sea in my Fiat Doblo, which was also carrying my 50cc moped. I would dump my moped there and then drive around to Wembury. This I did without any hiccups; that is until after a mile from setting off from Wembury I had to cross the River Yealm by means of a ferry. Unfortunately, I could see no sign of the boat or ferryman on the far side. I hung around for about 30 minutes but no joy.
To complicate matters my moped was safely parked up at the end of the walk and to make matters worse about two-thirds along the walk I had to cross the River Erme. Fortunately, the River Erme is fordable at low tide, but I had a time-window to consider now!
Ok, my cunning plan was to walk back to the car and drive to a car park at Mothecombe, which sits very close to the River Erme. I would then walk across the Erme and onto Bigbury-on-Sea. I took my boots off to cross the river, which only came just above my ankles in one or two spots. The walk onto to Bigbury was only about 4 miles and quite a pleasant walk in the sunshine. At Bigbury I was able to jump on my moped and then drive it to Noss Mayo, a small hamlet on the River Yealm and about a mile from the ferry landing stage.
So, I parked the moped in Noss Mayo and walked about 8 miles to Mothecombe. The walking was along a well defined and engineered track called the Revelstoke Drive, built by Lord Revelstoke to impress his guests and providing an excellent viewpoint. At Beacon Hill, the Drive turns inland and the SWCP returns to being a footpath, with a few steep up and downs! It is late in the afternoon and when I arrive back at Mothecombe and the River Erme estuary is now at high tide and full of water.
It has been quite a challenging day and I am quite pleased how things have turned out. However, at the car I must now change my clothes and head back to Noss Mayo to pick my moped up.
Distance today = 15.5 miles
Total distance = 446 miles
I drove to the village of Bantham and left my moped in the car park, £2 for the whole day was not too bad. I then drove in the Doblo around to the village of East Prawle and parked for free around the village green. East Prawle is a lovely village, situated very close to the coast and having a unique and charming pub – The Pigs Nose! Its full of curios and is very interesting.
I set off down the lanes out of East Prawle on what would be a very hot and sunny day. I made my way down to the coast path and turned east. I headed for Prawle Point, the most southerly headland in South Devon. I rounded the point past the Signal Houses, whose purpose is unknown. The path dropped down to the shoreline and snaked between rock formations, up to and past Gammon Head. I kept an eye out for the Cirl Bunting, a small bird unique to this area. I passed tufts of beautiful Sea Pink or Thrift as I rounded Limebury Point and now heading into Salcombe Harbour.
This estuary is well served by an all year round ferry between Salcombe and East Portlemouth, the journey is short and costs just £1.50. I head up steep steps, past the Ferry Inn into Salcombe and continue walking along a road south. I walked around South Sands, where I saw a large sea-tractor which carries passengers out to a boat and which then ferries them into Salcombe. The walk out to and around Bolt Head was wonderful, with steep slopes and rock formations making the walk very interesting.
The path flattens out onto a very relaxing stretch over Bolberry Down, where I met numerous other walkers. I round Bolt Tail and look down onto the villages of Hope and in the distance Thurlestone. Hope is split into two villages, Inner Hope and Outer Hope. The village is very busy, with people enjoying the hot sunshine on the beach and drinks in the local pub – the Hope and Anchor. The path makes a detour, which is annoying because it seems to send me well out of my way. As I approach Thurlestone I encounter another path diversion. The diversion goes some distance inland. I ignore the signs and climb a few fences past some private houses – big mistake!! I encounter a dead-end, with no way down to the beach and people’s gardens on my right side. I also attract the attention of the occupants, who give me an earful about I should not have come this far! Not my finest hour and embarrassing! They let me through their garden and onto the road beyond. I scuttle off suitably chastised!
After passing the golf course, Burgh Island and Bigbury-on-Sea come into view. I walk along easy grassy slopes into Bantham. A fantastic walk, only spoilt by my stupidity in the latter stages!
Distance today = 17.5 miles
Total distance = 430.5 miles
It was forecast to be a hot and sunny day, as I dropped my moped off in the car park in Dartmouth. Like most public car parks in Devon its free to park mopeds/motorbikes/scooters – as long as you use the designated parking bays. I then drove around to East Prawle where I parked on the rough car park around the village green.
Todays walk would be quite long and with the temperatures forecasted to be quite high I ensured I had enough fluids to see me through. I walked out of the village and descended down to the coastal path. I headed below The Torrs (cliffs that mark the early Pleistocene cliff-line). I walked past Woodcombe Point and into Lannacombe Bay. There were not many people out on the beach yet, as I continued on along The Narrows and out towards the Lighthouse at Start Point. I followed the minor road that leads away from the lighthouse. After a short distance the path left the road and descended down a slope along a hillside covered in yellow primroses. I arrived at the old ruined settlement of Hallsands, mostly reclaimed by the sea at the start of the last century. After reading the story of how this settlement was lost, I continued walking due north.
I descended to the beach and walked along Bee Sands. As I approached Torcross I was forced to go inland slightly as some difficult rocks blocked my way. At Torcross, the main road, the A379 runs down to the sea and follows the line of 2 – 3 mile sand bar, quite similar to Chesil Beach. This is Slapton Sands and a number of memorials are located here including a salvaged American Sherman tank. It was here in 1944, during Exercise Tiger (training for the D-Day landings) that a combination of friendly fire and enemy action resulted in the deaths of some 749 American servicemen. I continued on through the village of Strete and passed above a very busy Blackpool Sands. I pass around the village of Stoke Fleming and continued onto Blackstone point. I now headed into the Dart Estuary and could now see Kingswear on the opposite banks of the River Dart. I passed through Warfleet and into Dartmouth itself, which was very busy. I saw the steam paddle-ship Waverley just departing for a run along the coast with passengers.
Distance today = 18.5 miles
Total distance = 413 miles
This was quite along days walk and a tough one especially in the latter stages which had numerous ups and downs. I left my car parked in the Grand Hotel’s car park. I had stayed at the hotel the night before at an amazing price of £30!
It was still, warm and overcast as I set off from the hotel down the A379 towards Paignton. The pavements where wide and empty of tourists as I make good time along the promenade. Council workers were out in force above Preston Sands removing sand washed up off the beach in recent storms. I round Roundham Head and pass above Goodringham Sands. I am now walking alongside the railway line which is still closed after the tumultuous storms seen earlier in the year and led to the closure of the line at Dawlish.
I soon left the houses of Paignton behind and within a few miles entered the fishing town of Brixham. This is a busy little town particularly around the landing of fish. The harbour has a replica of The Golden Hind, a tourist attraction and restaurant. As I pass through Brixham I notice a beautifully painted mural on a house in the town. There are two harbours with a beautiful backdrop of differently coloured houses seen on many jigsaw puzzles and biscuit tins!
I pass around Berry Head and head south-west along flat grassy paths. the walking is easy and I am soon at St Marys Bay, Brixham’s south-facing side. I have a short diversion inland to bypass a collapsed section of the path and walk out to Sharkham Point. The next three miles is where the tougher walking begins. There is more pronounced cliff line and the path bizarrely makes a number of unnecessary diversions down the steep slope and back up again. This is very tiring work and rather annoying and frustrating when the path could have easily been maintained at a more constant level. These up and down’s detract from the walk and is poorly planned. After passing around Inner Forward Point I enter a wooded section which would continue all the way to Kingswear, where the walk ended.
Distance today = 19.5 miles
Total distance = 394.5 miles