Bantham to Salcombe (SWCP)

Please note new format for the blog from 03/01/2016 means I can now show only one photo per blog post. I’ve made the change because the blog would not load quickly on some computers.

On Saturday I was on the road by 6:30 am.

The forecast was terrible, but that didn’t damp my enthusiasm.

Around about mid-day I rocked up at Bantham.

After paying the gatekeeper £3.50 I parked on a private access road which thankfully was not affected by the 5:00pm curfew.

Numerous punters arrived and strode off towards the beach, only to turn around a few moments later.  The rain was lashing, and the wind so blustery it was difficult to catch your breath.Back in August Roz and I stood on the opposite shore, and people were swimming in the Avon.  On this occasion things were somewhat different, even if it was still incredibly mild at 15 degrees centigrade.

My Berghaus coat wasn’t about to let me down, although I had to impersonate a windmill to get my waterproofs trousers on.

Out on the waves two fanatics braved the waves. One kept failing off his windsurfer, whilst the other was in full control as he kite surfed through the choppy seas.

Around the headland Thurlestone Golf course came into view.The sea was being whipped into a creamy froth blowing off the beach and onto the fairway.

I covered no more than a mile in my first hour, but gradually the driving rain eased off.

Not that there were many birds showing at the South Milton Ley Nature Reserve.

By the time I’d stumbled across the incredibly expensive Beach House Cafe it had stopped altogether.

I was looking for a bit of shelter from the powerful wind, but I wasn’t allowed to stay inside as I hadn’t booked one of the empty seats!

A fish finger sandwich and coffee set me back £9.50, and the last laugh was on me as the sun came out whilst I grappled with my lunch on a bench outside.

Once the sun was out the scenery gained a delightful summer time vibrance.The official route took me inland along a very slippery path which gave great views back towards Burgh Island.

I climbed a “Devon Bank” to get better pictures, and took a hefty tumble on my way back down, losing a bottle of water in the process, whilst holding the camera aloft for protection.

Further on I passed gorgeous properties, before dropping down into Hope Cove where I found a small plaque of Concorde in memory of a D A Lessware. Here I was able to re-stock my water supplies from a cheery lady who was exceedingly happy to sell me two bottles for just £1.10.Then my light meter went awol, and the camera went wrong.

Every time I snapped the huge plumes of spray the camera over exposed by about 10 stops.

I wasn’t impressed, and trudged off confused, buy confident I’d fix it. By the time I’d reached Bolt Tail I’d worked out my only hope was to go fully manual and ignore all the usual settings.

By now I was seriously concerned about reaching my destination. The stormy start had set me back, and I was going as fast as possible to make up lost time.

Then a Philippians 4:13 came to mind, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

I felt reassured, but then spent several minutes debating the exact meaning of this verse.

Could I get to the moon if required, become a talented actor? Probably not, but yes I could (hopefully) get to Salcombe.

I made light work of Bolberry Down, where I passed several other (fair weather) walkers. Somehow I totally missed the sign for Soar Mill Cove.

You wouldn’t want to walk these slopes with just a telephone to show the way, and just as my doubts began to surface I found a sign showing I was two miles further on than I’d estimated.What a relief!There were various mushrooms and fungi on the higher slopes.

The sun was plummeting towards horizon, and my energy levels suddenly crashed.  I retrieved a tuna roll from my rucksack, and plodded on.I was amazed to find numerous elderly folk heading out of Salcombe as the light faded, and after a short climb around a rocky headland I was looking towards my destination.

The last section was more drawn out than I imagined, but did throw up a few memories of a winter break we once enjoyed at the now defunct Tides Reach Hotel.

Half an hour after entering the town I was climbing into a taxi and got back to Bantham at 5:30pm.

That was twenty quid well spent, at the end of my 6 hour walk.There’s something rather wonderful about climbing back in your car, mission accomplished.

I was now 12 miles closer to completing the South West Coast Path.
























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