Sunday, 13 June 2010
Again we were up early for the train to Axminster followed by the bus to Lyme Regis.
From Lyme Regis we continued the steep climb and sometimes re-routed walk towards the undercliffs, passing monmouth beach.
Again we were blessed with the sunshine, but now had quite severe sunburn on my upper arms, so to combat the strong sun, I got a pair of socks and cut the toes out and wore them over the elbows! It worked.
This part of the walk also has a history all of its own.
The Downland Cliffs suffered a huge landslip on Christmas Day 1839, burrying cottages below, though thankfully no lives were lost as it had been evacuated 2 days before.
The area though is chalk in appearance, but it is rich in plant and fossil life and it is not long before you reach Seaton.
Seaton itself has a beach of shingle and pebbles and the town is mainly old victorian and it still boasts an electric tramway that runs inland with open upper decks.
It also lies at the mouth of the River Axe which has some torrentially dangerous currents.
Going west past Seaton is Seaton Hole and Beer Head, along With Branscombe mouth and then eventually arriving in Sidmouth and I was somewhat taken aback with its soaring cliffs and Georgian and Regency Architecture.
Sidmouth lost its days as a port when silt and shingle made it impossible to navigate it, but small fishing boats still do navigate the small stretch.
It is also known that the Duke and Duchess of Kent moved here in the 19th century to evade creditors (even royalty can`t escape the debt collection agencies!).
We concluded the walk here overnight before going from Sidmouth to Exmouth.
From Sidmouth we carried on up and down the cliffs to Ladram Bay which houses several secluded coves and wonderfully shaped cliffs before the several mile walk that would take us to Budleigh Salterton and then Sandy Bay, home to a huge Devon Cliffs holiday camp.
You can walk through the holiday camp and even stop for a meal or cream teas with strawberry jam, which simply melts in the mouth!
All too soon we are in Exmouth which was used as a base by Sir Walter Raleigh, the Elizabethan explorer.
Exmouth goes back to around the 16th century as it was a busy maritime port and the River Exe also meets the open waters of the sea here.
A small ferry would take us across the bay and onto Dawlish, but not today. We would end here and go back to the hotel tonight.
The next day and still with bright sunshine, I would have breakfast with the other diners and order an evening meal, which at 8am I was looking forward to!
This morning though, we caught the train to Exeter (which I was mightly impressed with. Its University large and majestic and I have thought about doing an archaeological course here as it is probably in one of the best areas to do the courses and they look really good courses to do here) before catching the bus to Exmouth and finally the ferry to Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve.
From here, the route was `flattish` and with the train and part of the South West Coast Path going side by side, you can see how people have lost their lives on this section.
The railway line is 3ft away from you as you walk along the wall to Dawlish. It is safe to do so when the tide is out, but is precarious when in and not recommended.
Only last week, (a gentleman informed me) a woman was killed by the train, trying to rescue her dog that had strayed onto the railway and got stuck.
Dawlish was a place that seemed quite a "rough area" indeed it doesn`t look like other areas of fine old buildings and colourful history, but I was proved (and gladly too) very wrong in that it was a place of friendly people and a beautiful park that was lush in green and seats and areas for picnics, though there were parts where gates were put up to prevent walking through, though I did find out it was due to erosion and not hoodlum prevention!
Once out of Dawlish, the uphill climb began yet again and into wooded areas, where I found an old oak tree with a huge girth and carvings of peoples names dating back to 1865.
Who were these people?
I often find that when delving into the past, I like to find out as much as i can and as accurately as I can, but it is with enjoyment that I do it and it has taken me to some fascinating places and We have met some wonderful people along the way.
The wooded walk was ever climbing and then we heard a rumble underfoot. Had we just experienced the tremblings of a landslip? yes, we had, but we carried on as we could not see it, but your always on the lookout, as you never know what may happen.
Soon we arrived in Teignmouth, which dates back to Saxon times although it didn`t really amount to much until the early 19th century when it was developed as a port and holiday resort.
Dartmoor granite was shipped out from here and onto London to build what was the old London Bridge, which now resides in the U.S.
From here it is time to catch yet another ferry to take us to Ness cove in Babbacombe Bay.
Following the Coast has been quite an adventure, each turn seemingly different, not sure what your going find, but it appeared lined with golden beauty and then with rough dangerous drops that sometimes you feel you have to cling on and then other times you have to pinch yourself to check the reality of the places that we have visited.
If it wasn`t for the modern cars I sometimes believe that we could see horse and cart and gentlemen in their flat caps with weather beaten faces and eyes of seeing everything, casting nets or preparing their boats for daily catches. An era that has diminshed but one you can easily envisage.
Babbacombe Beach used to be a popular resort with royal visits, before Torquay took off as an affluent area, the place to be.
The beach also used to be a favourite amongst smugglers until a raid in 1853 put a virtual stop to it.
From Babbacombe Beach we passed by Anstey`s Cove and Hope`s nose that jutts out with its red cliffs before heading to Torquay and its huge detached houses and large harbour and is now a family favourite for holiday makers, it is quoted as being the English Riviera.
I found Torquay vast and beautiful with old buildings everywhere, but got lost a little when the signposts for the walk disappeared to the floor! through seemingly a housing estate, but was easily picked up again further down the drive.
Palm trees grew very well here, I could see why with hot sunshine though I didn`t like the smell of the sea too much, very smelly, probably to do with the amount of seaweed that has encroached around the whole of the South West Coast and no one seems to know why.
Apart from that, the walk was very pleasant and it was to get back to Paignton where both Willow and myself were looking forward to being fed and watered!
Saturday, 12 June 2010
The last time I was on Dartmoor was when I was a police trainee taking part in ten tors and the weather was atrocious, you couldn`t see more than 10feet infront of you!
Although looking menacing, the storm clouds never encroached on us, they seemed to drift away!
The top of Hamel Tor and Willow trying to read the sign!
From here we descended down to Grimspound, an old Roman Fort, though virtually disappeared what remained were the outlines of the accomodation and other areas.
We had been told about an old inn that served very good food and was quite literally in the middle of the moor.
We deviated from our walk to try the pub food and we were not disappointed!
Warren House Inn has been situated on the B3212 for centuries (the road came after!) and the meals were excellent, several coach parties did arrive when we were leaving!
Still showing the way!
The two moors way was easy to pick up and we continued over Water Hill and decided that we would camp on Chagford Common for the night and with only horses and sheep for company everything passed off uneventful!
The next morning the radio went on as I was making breakfast and listening to Terry Wogan and the latest Janet and John story! Still chuckling away the 8 o`clock news came on and announced the death of Michael Jackson. Hmmmmm, of all the places I had to be! Where were you?
As I ate my breakfast and Willow rolled around in the long grass and something resembling mud but smelling awful, I made a point that she would in no way be in my tent tonight with that smell! We again could see the rolling angry clouds dampening the way ahead. Will I get to see a downpour?
Watching the clouds and waiting to see if we would get anything, but nothing arrived but glorious sunshine!
I was sad to be leaving Dartmoor, it had been a great adventure and learnt alot more along the way from the people we had met, but now we were headed north and onto Exmoor, but first we had to negotiate several tricky roads and today would be quite a long day to our next campsite at Higher Fingle.
The route was pleasant enough going through farmers fields and passing Chagford and heading down Piddledown Common with Castle Drogo on the left.
Castle Drogo is not an old castle but had been purpose built!
Through Drewsteignton and then Higher Fingle and what a relief! my joints were beginning to take a battering though Willow kept me going and egged me on when I needed it!
Day 11, After a good nights sleep we picked up the route again and new that it would be another long day.
Not disheartened the route had shown us different areas to go and old towns and villages that must be explored and I have not been disappointed by any of the journey, indeed each day has been different and your never sure what to expect!
We walked on through farmers fields and Morchard Bishop and Thelbridge Cross before staying at Yeatheridge Campsite which provided us with free accommodation, of which I was truly grateful.
RAIN!!! Our first day of rain (it had rained on the evening time occassionally!) in about 2 months! Lovely.......
Onwards we went and the heavens opened, we got to Witheridge and disaster struck! I had quite literally ran out of money! ok only for a couple of days! It wasn`t a disaster, people cope without money all the time and I had survived on very little throughout this journey, but a couple I had met at the campsite gave me £20, they had been trying to locate me to give me the money to help with the journey - someone is looking after us, thankyou whoever you are.
They always say that someone takes care of you upon your journey of life, I now know that is true, I didn`t ask for the money, but the help arrived when I needed it. Thankyou.
With the rain unrelenting we perservered with way heading towards Creacombe and Knowstone.
It was late afternoon before the rain stopped and we were drenched, but still in good spirits though now very sore and looking for somewhere to stay. We found it! West Anstey Common and freecamped the night.
The next day I was ever more determined to reach Exmoor and we were up and about with the larks!
Still heading North I had a rough Idea that we had only 40 mile to go - I can do that in 2 days 20 mile a day, but it was not to be it took 3 full days but worth the weight in Gold!
And by the end of it we had achieved a journey that would leave me wanting more and another journey began........
It wasn`t long before we were back on Dartmoor and at last seeing the "Dartmoor Ponies" Shoeless and fearless they strode past us without a care in the world.
We passed Aish Tor and onto Dr. Blackall`s Drive, story goes that back in the early 19th century, Dr Blackall had the track road put in so that his pregnant wife could join him in his new establishment.
The track is now a little more worn and rather bumpy in places that to envisage an entourage of horse and coaches travelling along this area that was barron and bleak and quite high in places leaves the imagination pondering what effect the journey had on poor Mrs Blackall?
The views though were breathtaking and sometimes just standing and staring at what is around is worth any efoort of walking.
To become lost in your surroundings can help heal any wounds and just taking time out can charge the batteries or relieve you of any anger within, it quite literally is soul regenerating.
Leaving Dr. Blackall`s Drive we soon departed the moors again leaving Bel Tor and headed down towards more woodland. Finding a cool shade and following a river, we passed its weirs with bridges defying time and torrents. Standing strong and holding the remnants of mushrooms on the stones and moss below, a poets dream surely due!
Before long we were walking uphill and back onto the moor where we were going to camp for the night when we met a couple who very kindly took us down to their campsite and we stayed the night, but we had a visit......
1`oclock in the morning, I had very stupidly left my frying pan outside the tent, although nothing was in it, a certain badger came along and decided to "make off" with item! Willow and I lept into action! not wanting to see my frying pan disappear we scurried after it, but alas we only travelled 2yds outside the tent, the badger was obviously not impressed by its metal (well it was a cheap one!) and duly dropped it and no, Willow got nowhere near the badger to give it a telling of!
Remember these are meals for 1-2 people so portions are significantly smaller!
2 Sausages (any sort you like)
3 Eggs (I prefer more eggs, the eggs fluff up better)
Cheese (how much you prefer)
8 mushrooms (any sort, but for this recipe they are button mushrooms!)
2 tablespoons of oil (either sunflower or olive)
salt and pepper to season
Put oil into frying pan and heat until the oil becomes runny,
Place sausages in and fry for about 10 minutes or until cooked and remove from heat.
Cut up mushrooms and tomatoes and add to frying pan.
beat the 3 eggs and add salt and pepper and cheese.
Cut up the sausages
Remove the mushrooms and tomatoes and put with the sausages on a separate plate.
Place egg mixture in frying pan and watch it bubble!
Add the sausage, mushrooms and tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes or until omlette browned and enjoy!
We stayed at a place called Holne, a quaint little village of beautiful character, that like so many we have walked down this way it is like stepping back in time.
our campsite was good too, with bunks and facilities to stay, we met a couple of people, come over from germany on an old motorbike.
They were nicknamed Wallis and Gromit but were astounding good fun and made and excellent german meal!
We stayed at Holne for a few days, visiting Buckfastleigh, Ashburton and Buckfast Abbey, which is still inhabited to this day, though everyone is welcome to look around. All areas were within easy walking distance and lovely to have a walk around and enjoy the local hospitality.
With so much to see and do, with alot of heritage and cave walks and museums, I wish we could stay longer, but sadly Willow wasn`t allowed everywhere, but we enjoyed the walks just the same.
We headed east, towards Buckfastleigh and found old standing stones marking the Monks Way.
And off the moors we ambled and into woods where we found signposts that showed the way and the farmers cutting their hay.
It wasn`t long before we found a pub that did good grub and let my Willow in!
And soon we found a campsite a good one at that!
We set off in good time still following the old tram track that was once busy taking people and essential materials to different places.
Today we would pass old standing stones, boundary stones and Petre`s cross and burial mound before reaching the ford where we would spend a couple of nights, the maximum number of nights you can stay in any one area of Dartmoor.
The route was to leave the old tramway and head of onto moorland that was in places thick with long grass and other times boggy, though having Willow, she was brilliant in leading me through the bogs without getting me wet and on firm ground - well done and thankyou Willow!
We passed many sheep and cows on this section though we had yet to see the Dartmoor ponies.
Willow was unfazed by their presence and so too the sheep by ours, probably because Willow didn`t chase them, important when there is livestock that you trust your dog but if you fear it is going to chase put your dog on a lead. The cows would come up to us inquisitive, but once satisfied, they just watched us stroll by.
We got to the ford late afternoon, the warm sun on our backs and the water shimmering like pools of diamonds glistening.
Willow jumped straight into the water and I was glad to put my feet in the cool water - actually it was freezing!
The standing stones and remnants of old buildings.
Route markers and Petre`s burial mound
The ford where we would stop for a rest.
I had rations with me for this section, my meal for here would be :
Sadly I was unable to save anymore of our South West Coast Path journey due to my old website closing, which is why it is taking so long to write everything up now, my apologies. It is important to find a reliable website when writing or keeping a record of events as I have found out and to my cost.
I want to thank those of you who have joined our journey recently and welcome you, I hope you are enjoying what you read, if not please tell me how I can improve it and thankyou once again, we look forward to hearing from you. Karen and Willow
We finished the South West Coast Path at Plymouth, though we would return to the South West Coast Path and complete it all one day. We headed inland to do The Two Moors Way that would start at Ivybridge and finish at Lynmouth a distance totalling 102 miles, most people can do this trek in a week, though for me it took three. We managed to get a lift to Ivybridge and armed with Ordnance Survey OL28, a newspaper covering the area (this was important as it gave details of where to "freecamp") and a cycle and leisure map of Devon, which proved quite invaluable.
The route through Ivybridge was an unusual mixed with old factories and quaint buildings, the walk was pleasant, though like the old coastal path, hilly to start. Once through the route opens up and then the marker that shows the start of the two moors way. Your immediately on Dartmoor and I couldn`t believe my luck with the weather, blue skies and very warm. My last recollection of Dartmoor was pouring rain and being rescued of it! That was the Ten Tors Walk back in 1986! I think I have been on it since, but my memory is not very good I`m afraid, though I can`t remember what it looked like either. Now as I look at the lush green moorland and Willow running ahead, tail wagging and without a care in the world, I am somewhat lightened even with my rucksack, I have a sense of belonging, of purpose. Sometimes along the journey I had lost that purpose especially at the end of the day when my long suffering back would cry in pain, but the fact that people were relying on me kept me going and continued to give me strength. The start of the walk was fairly easy going, following an old track line and as we could freecamp in certain areas of Dartmoor, I was determined to be able to take full advantage, so long as you keep to the code, most of which is common sense, though it is not surprising how many people abuse this. Daytrippers mainly.
The tracks that led the way
And our view from the "bedroom" Willow still full of play!
Torcross itself was a new village back in 1602, but little is known about its past, except that it may have been an old fishing village.
However, on the 28th April 1944, in the early hours, during Exercise Tiger, nine german u-boats armed with torpedos, intercepted a 3 mile long convoy of vessels taking part in the exercise.
Two tank landing ships were sunk and 749 American Servicemen lost their lives.
Several decades on the locals of Torcross fought for a memorial and after alot of baggering and raising of funds the wrecks were found and a sherman tank bought ashore.
The story goes that sherman tank still worked although waterlogged and at the bottom of the sea for nearly 45 years, its tracks rolled out like it had just come from the factory, a lasting defiance of time not forgotten.
It now stands proudly as the memorial to all 749 servicemen killed here and a disaster no-one wanted forgotten
We went through Torcross and onto Beesands which had both survived disasters that had overtook their neighbouring Hallsands.
Again views were breathtaking and we walked some memorable hedge coverings, which had their own unique designs trees that were in full abundance of fruit, indeed the plums were exceptional!
Steps that seem to be here, there and everywhere and long velvet green grass on cliff edges, not out of place and growing very well!
Above left are the remains of Hallsands which in January 1917 an abnormally high tide coincided with an easterly gale. Villagers watched from the hilltops and cliffs as all but one of 30 cottages were destroyed by the storm.
Above right is the lighthouse at Start Point.
The coastal path here was as rugged and hilly as any other part of the walk and on several occasions I couldn`t get up some of the steps without crawling on my hands and knees!
The weight of my pack quite literally weighing me down.
Eventually arriving on the top of a big hill, it panned out and carried on weaving its way round the coast.
With pouring rain, we carried on and after about 6 mile we reached a place called Stoke Fleming and a lovely little camp site nearby of which we decided to stay.
After a couple of nights here I was told about another place which was only another 8 mile away and that was Slapton Sands, a camping and caravanning site.
We did indeed carry onto Slapton Sands and a lovely stretch of flat route, the best I found and arrived at our destination in good time.
Slapton Sands was exactly as it had been described to me, flat with shingle beaches and a nature reserve to fulfill the dream.
The old town with its 500 year old church and its old tower looming above, thatched cottages and old world public houses, it was perfectly kept and you felt like you had once more stepped back in time.
The end of an era....
Kingswear proved a delightful place to visit and our visit did not end there, we went to Greenway House, where Agatha Christie used it as a holiday home.
The next day it was time to leave Kingswear and cross on the ferry to Dartmouth, where we would again pick up the signs and continue along the South West Coast Path.