A funny place to finish (SWCP)

By: snowgood

Dec 31 2015

Tags: , , ,

Category: Devon, South West Coast Path, Thanks

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Focal Length:24mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 7D

PLEASE NOTE: I’m changing website layout 3/01/2015 as such all posts on this site will now only show ONE photo – even if more pictures were originally posted.

It’s the last day of the year, and I really should upload the last report of my hugely satisfying walk around the South West Coast Path.On the 13th November 2015 I set off from Chudleigh to start the last leg of this wonderful 630 mile trail. An hour later I was all togged up ready to leave Torcross car park in a light drizzle.

The area was one of the embarkation points for Exercise Tiger, the allied rehearsals for the D-Day landings in France. I leave you to study the link, but it wouldn’t be an understatement to say things did not go according to plan.Some of you may have heard the excellent Radio 4 story of how this Sherman Tank was recovered from the sea and set up as a memorial to the American servicemen who lost their lives in the Spring of 1944.  Sadly the story is no longer on line, but here are some details of how the truth about this disaster was eventually unearthed, after a determined effort by Ken Small.Whilst I am it I should mention that my camera packed up two days before this walk, so everything you see here was taken on mobile phone. It’s a shame, but it’s the best I could do to record my solitary walk.The photo above was taken just beyond the Slapton Sands Monument to the D-Day landings, which was erected in 1954. You’ll have spotted this is a very flat part of the coast path. Indeed the exposed monument took a battering during the storms of 2001 which destroyed part of the coastal road (A379).After more than two miles on the level I was delighted to start my ascent into Strete on what is the newest part of South West Coast Path. Only a few months before my visit a delightfully gradual incline up towards the village has been opened. I took my time on this stretch as there was an active Blackcap to entertain me, and I simply love watching one of our loveliest warblers.

The last part of the new route (when heading east) drops, then zig zags up quite steeply before coming out by the narrow A379.  By now I was rather hoping to have my first coffee of the day.

Let’s face it November is out of season, and the pub was shut and the best I could hope for was an “instant coffee” in a take away cup from the Post Office/General stores.

I don’t do instant coffee, so grabbed  bottle of water and moved on.  A little further up the road the route headed back out towards the sea, and my mobile jangled with a query from the office. A few minutes (and paces) later I came across a deep valley.

The chasm like characteristics made my heart sink, as yard of height lost equated to another yard of climbing on the other side. The severity of the gradient reminded me of “The Rich Man and Lazarus” and the famous chasm which no one can cross.I’m really over egging the magnitude of this Devon valley, and simply introducing the reader into what goes on inside the mind of a middle aged rambler.I was however concerned about my safety as I had to drop down the steep slope in my indifferent walking boots on very wet grass.

So I took my steps gingerly, and made a point of examining numerous fungi on the grassy hillside.  I’m fairly certain the two specimens above are the same species, with one unfurling from a puff ball status into “mushroom” status.The Scots Pine illustrates the elevation changes rather well.I was rather curious about the next species that I discovered. A rather small bright red button. “Oh well” I thought, “I can look it up after the walk”!Well what do you know?  Not long after I’d taken the photo above I’d followed a circuitous route (away from the narrow road) and dropped down to sea-level again at the little hamlet of Blackpool.

After crossing the A379 I was at Blackpool Sands wondering if by any chance I might sneak a coffee from The Venus Cafe. Even on a wet and miserable day this excellent establishment was open for business.

I even indulged in a burger, as well as that long awaited Americano.  How blessed was I on this wet Friday the 13th?

Not only that but there were free newspapers for patrons, and as I re-energised I flicked through the Daily Mail.

To my surprise and delight I read an article which answered my fungicidal query! It looks like I was one of many to see a Scarlet Waxcap for the first time..All good things have to come to an end, and I still needed to make good progress if I was to reach dartmouth before dark. Much to my surprise the coast path now veered inland, and I began to wonder if I was “lost” as the sea was nowhere in sight.

On my numerous escapades I’ve given serious thought about the costs accrued as I’ve made my coast path conquest.

Fuel costs in numerous cars, car parking, overnight accommodation a wide variety of hotels and pubs. Factor in the depreciation on my vehicles and I’d say the last 4 years must have cost over £6000, but I haven’t any kept records, so i could be wrong.

One of my friends is toying with the idea of buying s small camper van for around £40,000.  I’ve never wanted a caravan, but do have fond memories of driving Hertz rental vehicles including Bedford Rascals.

Here’s what you get when you combine a bedroom and a diminutive Rascal chassis. A pitifully small (and no doubt painfully slow) micro camper.

Maybe I should buy one for the next mission?A few yards further on I discovered why I’d been away from the coast for so long.  There was another one of those wretched scars on the landscape! A painfully dated holiday complex on a  prime site. YUK!  Stoke Fleming would be better of without this carbuncle.After a while I arrived at a car park where the route became decidedly boggy. At least the sun  was trying to say hello, and I was now homing in on my destination.

The island in the distance is yet another “Mew Stone”, whilst the white cottage denotes the outskirts of Kingswear.Next up was Blackstone Point, and a short trek to the southerly extremities of Dartmouth. I’d remembered to pack my English Heritage membership card, perhaps I might explore the interior of this 600 year old  coastal defence.

Alas, it wasn’t open. And who can blame them?  I’m sure manning it wouldn’t be cost effective on a wet November afternoon.At least I did get the chance to enjoy the scenery, and smile when I walked through a small garden called “Sugary Park”. I’m supposed to be making do without sugar in the latter part of the year!Heading north with the Dart on my right I was now closing in on my goal. By now I’d had to resort to switching of my phone between photos, the power had virtually gone.  I missed a pedestrian that would have given this elevated path (causeway) a sense of scale.

Just looking at it brought back happy memories of my childhood in St.Germans, and to a lesser extent Uley too.  Old English villages and towns often featured pavements which were significantly higher than the road.

Here’s the”Lower Dartmouth Ferry”, which carries a smattering of cars (and pedesrians) with power coming from a small vessel that cajoles the floating platform across the river.

The point where I took this photo marked the end of my 630 mile walk. As a family we moved to Devon in Autumn 1997, and it took me 14 years to walk the 65 miles from Lyme Regis to Coleton Fishacre.

I started walking the route with Roz after being given a book of aerial photo-maps by Mum shortly after we moved in. Not long after we started Joe and Sam got rather fed up with walking miles in hot weather when they could be back at home with friendsOf course back then I’d only been aiming at Lyme Regis to Plymouth. My interest in walking the coast path was re-ignited when George and Wilma came and shared a cottage with us in Cornwall.

On that all too brief holiday I introduced the Canadian side of the family to The Lizard, and was utterly gobsmacked by the spectacular scenery.

After a brief conversation with my Uncle Gerald my mind was made up.  i would walk the Cornish Coast path before I was too oldThat walk on The Lizard by Kynance Cove, and subsequent chat saw me grabbing every spare moment to achieve my goal.

During that time I was inspired by Oliver’s Cornwall, which to the best of my knowledge remains the most thorough guide to the Cornish leg of the coast path which runs from Minehead (in Somerset) to Poole (in DorsetI enjoyed the Cornish coast path so much, and never had any intention of walking the Somerset, or Dorset sections.

However after an interval without any particular goals I struck up a friendship with my dentist, who I was happy to discover also enjoyed walking.He was thrilled to join me (and on occasion Roz) as we headed west from Minehead in the general direction of Bude.  Sadly after a few months our regular jaunts were terminated by family matters in London.

Having polished off N. Somerset, and N. Devon I was hooked.  My aim this year was to complete the entire South West Coast Path.  The mission has been accomplished.

Those last 151 miles took over 11 months, and the photo below shows me resting (with my walking books in a paper bag) shortly before leaving Dartmouth a very happy bunnyTo Roz, Jacob, Stuart, Mike, Young-ae, Joe, Nancy, George and Wilma, Simon and Sarah, Tom, Sarah, and everyone who walked with me, THANKS for your friendship and Happy New Year.

May 2016 be a time of great blessing.


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