The Jurassic Coast (Part 2) – Walking the South West Coastal Path

This is the second posting (of a trilogy) about our recent week away in East Devon.  If you missed the first and would like to ‘catch up’ you can by clicking on this link.

The Jurassic Coast (Part 1)

Sidmouth to Seaton – 10 miles

We started our day by parking the car in a large car park at Seaton.  Seaton is a small seaside town to the west of the River Axe.  The car park was right next to the new Seaton Jurassic – a place for families to go and find out about fossils and dinosaurs. I hope it does well.

At this time of the morning (Easter Monday) the car park was empty.  At this time of the morning the town was also empty, or so it seemed.  It was at least very, very quiet.

We walked to the bus stop which was right on the sea front and waited.  It was a calm, sunny morning.  A man walked across the road with a yoga mat under his arm and started going through his routine on the promenade.   He pretty much set the tone of the place.

Tim waiting at the bus stop at Seaton.

I crossed the road and photographed the serene sea – looking west. The cliffs here are white – this would be the last section of our walk today.

The bus came along and we took front row seats.  We then had a little wait before the departure time which was 8:57am. Our cheerful driver took out his camera and called across to a nearby cafe owner to come and take a look at his family photos. They obviously knew each other well and it was great to (almost) be part of this social meeting of locals.

We set off and picked up other locals and  friendly conversations continued between driver and passengers.

At Sidmouth we got off and walked through empty streets and shops that hadn’t opened yet.  “What we need is a coffee” said Tim and almost instantly, just around the corner, there appeared a small bakery with a sign ‘we sell hot drinks’.  We eagerly stepped inside. The Upper Crust bakery – a tiny place but full of yummy things to eat.  As well as two coffees we grabbed a couple of puff pastries filled with egg, bacon, sausage and beans – total cost £6.00.  With second breakfasts in hand we sat on a bench at the sea front and enjoyed ourselves immensely!

Finally at 9:45, we thought we better get going. We had some walking to do and this was going to be a tough one with three big climbs.  As you can see from the photo, the path rises fairly steeply out of the town.

We crossed a metal bridge over the River Sid and immediately started uphill.  However, it didn’t seem to take too long before we entered a wood full of bluebells at the very top.

Ferns were uncurling and leaves in the trees just making an appearance.  Beautiful.

Once over the hill it was down then up again over grass, which is always just that bit harder somehow.  Puffing and panting it’s time to look back and see where you’ve just come from.  Sidmouth is just peeping around the corner on this shot.

The going got a bit easier for a while and we headed slightly inland passing grazing ponies then grazing cows.

Sometimes, on long walks, we see only a few other walkers, this time we saw several.  I suppose it was because it was the Easter weekend.  Three walkers with much bigger packs than ours passed us with a quiet ‘hello’.  We always try and guess where they are from and what their relationship is with each other – two brothers, one married?  Two old friends, one with a girlfriend?  It never matters but we always do this.

I liked the look of this cow!

We entered the trees again near Branscombe – the village was way down on our left.  The smell of wild garlic was really strong here – at least I think it’s wild garlic.  The plants covered a huge area that steeply dropped away on our left, small star shaped flowers spiked from large glossy leaves.  It’s probably one of those smells you either love or hate.

Further along were wild flowers. Wild flowers at this time of the year are exquisite.

It was just after this that a spaniel, who had been at our heels for the last mile or so, jumped into a cattle trough for a drink and cool down.  He obviously knew what he was doing but it was a funny sight.  It’s ok – his owner hauled him out.

Branscombe Mouth, a stoney beach, was busy with visitors.  Almost on the beach sat a really big thatched cafe/restaurant, the Sea Shanty, doing a roaring trade.  We sat on a bank and watched people sitting, laughing, strolling while and had our packed lunch …it was all nice & relaxed.

Time to get going again – we climbed the grassy bank away from Branscombe and took a last look back.

Next was Hooken Cliff – this is an area that was formed by a landslide in 1790.  Big white cliffs reared up – a cave can be seen about half way down on the left.

Our route followed a narrow track between the trees.

Climbing ever so gradually we reached the top – were now on the cliff that circled round to a placed called Beer.  Beer is a historic fishing village and draws the crowds, especially on Easter weekends!

We strode down the hill, took a quick look at the visitors enjoying a beer at the pub at the bottom of the hill, thought about it for a moment or two, then strode out.  We still had a couple of miles to go.  I’m sure we will return to Beer, for a beer another day (who can resist with a name like that) – apparently it’s quite a picturesque village.

Just before we lost the view of the very sheltered harbour at Beer, as we climbed the path, we looked back and took another photo.  You can clearly see how popular this place is by the number of people still on the beach enjoying the late afternoon sunshine.

Shortly afterwards I took this shot looking towards Seaton. Seaton still looks quite a long way away but was within touching distance now.  It was infact the last photo of the day.

We both imagined we would be walking along the path near the beach – the beach I photographed at the start of the day (scroll back to the second photo of this post – taken from near the bus stop), but the path has been diverted inland due to a more recent landslip on the edge of town.  We could have taken the beach back but those pebbles are a killer on the feet, knees, legs and especially tiring after 10 miles.

So, diversion path it was.

It was on this diversion that we met and walked with a chap of about our age from the West Midlands and his two teenage children back into town.  They had only been on a short walk that afternoon.  It made for a strange end to a long day (as we slowed our pace and they picked up theirs) but we enjoyed the humour and company and, I think, they may even have been inspired to give this section of the Coatal Path a go themselves.


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