SWCP – Wembury to Laira Bridge

By: snowgood

Aug 26 2015

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Category: Architecture, Devon, South West Coast Path, Walking

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NOTE: 03/01/2016 saw most

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When we were planning this holiday I’d hope we could take a chunk out of the Devon Coast Path.

The original intention was to kick off at Dartmouth and head towards Plymouth.

Having arrived in the wettest week of summer we’ve had to reconsider the best way to get the most from our break.

I resorted to a 15 minutes on my Mac to seek out where we’d get the best weather.

Despite heavy rain at Aveton Gifford the forecasts suggested good weather to the west.

At 12:30 pm we were parked at Wembury. Years back one of my colleagues lived here, but we’ve only walked here once before in September 2012 when I tagged it on to the Two Moors Way I’d walked with Tom.

Back then the aim was to tick off another box by extending the route previously covered, and completing the full coast to coast experience.

But back to August 2015

I decided we’d try and get from Wembury to the Cremyll ferry (the western most part of the South Devon Coast Path).

It was great plan, except we were starting late, and I left my OS Map on the dining table. Doh!

No bother, the sun was shining – Let’s go!

The few hundred yards to the beach was the only familiar stretch.  Here’s Roz with the first surprise of the walk.

We could have shaved off half a mile of walking, as we’re National Trust members.  Never mind, here’s a splendid view out to “The Great Mewstone”.

Five minutes later we were by the shingly beach, and en route for Plymouth.

Roz and I remembered a lovely lunch we had in the old barn here, but before long Wembury was behind us.

I didn’t hear any Reed or Sedge Warblers, despite the copious quantities of reeds all along the cliff tops.  Surely there’d be some here in the Spring?

I dipped my fingers into the sea, before clambering onto the wooden posts alongside a disused slipway.

From my lofty viewpoint I could see Cornwall and Rame Head way off to the south west.

Further on we started to get a handle on the local wildlife.

I always get a kick out of seeing Ravens, and we were pretty close to three fine specimens. I guess of all the birds of the air this is the one i most want to be.

Aerobatic, powerful flyers, and with no natural predators.

These magnificent creatures once fed the prophet Elijah during a famine, and played a cameo performance with Noah and the ark.

In my lifetime I stood and watched one majestically soar from the top of St.Michael’s Mount, and across the sea towards Long Rock. I’d just taken over an hour to make the journey whilst the bird had it licked in two minutes.

Then there’s the “unkindness” (a flock of Ravens) I once saw finishing off a sheep’s carcass on Dartmoor. Or the one I once spotted near Banff in Canada.

We also looked up a glorious juvenile Buzzard, whilst Small Tortoiseshells sucked up nectar from the Buddleia.  At ground level a dung beetle paced his weary way, and nearly copped it as three ponies followed us on our way.

Leaving Heybrook Bay we headed towards Bovisand, with views across to Staddon Point and our imperial defences dating back to 1845.

Across the other side of The Plymouth Sound the Brittany Ferry for Santander in Spain was getting ready to leave.  More memories of trips to see Joe and Nancy when they were living in Torremolinos, and a Classic Renault meeting in Valladolid.

I loved this walk, with the macro and micro elements to keep us interested.  have you noticed is Blackberry season again, better get those ice cream cartons out again.

Roz and I discussed the merits of timber and render holiday chalets as we climbed up to our afternoon  coffee break.  In all honesty we’ll probably never have either (although I prefer timber cladding).  Bovisand itself wasn’t that special, but a small beach afforded several families a genuine seaside experience.

After our refreshment we took a minor detour (okay we went the wrong way), as we got up close to Fort Bovisand.

In the distance you’ll see “The Breakwater” which protects Plymouth from the worst of storms.  That’s Cornwall in the background.

I’m convinced the footpath signs for the Coast Path are erected by people who never walk.

Our intended route was hidden to the right, and took us up towards Staddon Heights (which was a hugely important in World War II, with all manner of modern guns to protect the city from aerial and waterborne attack).

Now we were really closing in our destination, that’s The Hoe and Stonehouse in the distance.  We were aiming to reach the Cremyll Ferry.

That’s Drake Island on the left.  You remember Francis, surely? he’s the chap who circumnavigated the world in a tiny vessel (The Golden Hind) way back in the 16th Century.

He was enjoying a game of bowls when news came in that The Spanish Armada was approaching.  As a senior naval officer he played a significant part in routing the Spaniards off Gravelines in France.

That little island belongs to the Ministry of Defence, it’s good that one our leading seafarers has such a significant memorial.

If you’re still reading this you’re probably thinking, “Are we nearly there yet?”

Well yes and no!

At Jennycliff we stepped out of the South Hams into Plymouth.

Then promptly took another wrong turn.

Roz was weary, and when I reached Turnchapel and spotted my error I left here for “10 minutes” to “do the proper route”.


It was massive omission, and I was walking for the best part of 45 minutes on a massive loop back to Jennycliff!

Here’s what I saw on the way.

Soon I was walking back up to Jennycliff, with another small beach to my right, and a crescent of new homes (with remedial work in progress to my right).

The world and his dog were out having good time, families, huddles of girls, pensioners, cyclists, trippers and locals.

This place was vibrant with life, and Roz was wondering where on earth I’d got to!

Back on my original (wrong track) I was soon back where i started at Turnchapel, after passing an old fort where we’d been given wrong directions  in the first place.

These ancient back streets were fascinating, with old homes, pubs, and a busy waterfront beyond and below.

The clock was ticking, and we were nowhere near Stonehouse, and Sunday night isn’t the best time to call a taxi.

I was working out our next step by the time we’d reached Hooe.

In the evening sun we sat outside “The Anchor Inn” and shared a pint of lemonade.

A little while later we were sitting in a Toyota Prius and heading back to our car.  The Romanian driver had to use Sat Nav, which was a bit worrying, but we made it.

Then we parked near Laira Bridge and walked back to Hooe, seeing a couple of Kingfishers en route.  We also used a smelly path next to a sewage farm.

The last mile was a solitary affair, with Roz pooling along behind me and collecting me under a dazzling early evening sky.

We may not have made it all the way, but this was a marvellous walk none the less.


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