Two weeks holiday has come to an end. It’s always a sad time but we are not down hearted as we have completed another big chunk of our South West Coastal Path challenge.
From Plymouth to Exmouth we have walked 80 miles (of the coastal path) and probably another 10 or so ‘extras’. These ‘extras’ being links to and from car parks or bus stops or where we might have taken the wrong track, etc.
The weather has been warm, sunny and just perfect for walking in shorts and t-shirts. My dilemma now is how to split the two weeks into blog posts that are (hopefully) enjoyable to read. Well, here goes, I’ll just start at the beginning and see how it goes. Written by day, from west to east – day 1 just happens to be the most westerly point!
Sunday 9th July, Around Plymouth (10 miles)
We parked, for free, in an area called Mount Batten. It’s a peninsula and from here a ferry runs back and forth across the River Plym to Plymouth. We joined about three other people on the early morning ferry and enjoyed 15 minute trip across docking at an area called The Barbican.
Just here, at this very spot, in 1620, the Pilgrim Fathers departed in their boat The Mayflower, for the New World. A photo near the Mayflower Steps was a must. Their journey was a little more symbolic than ours. There’s a bit more history to check out in this area but you have to look past the coffee stalls and souvenir shops.
We headed west, around The Hoe – famous for Sir Francis Drake. Firstly for sailing in to aboard The Golden Hind in 1580 having circumnavigated the world. Secondly for continuing his game of bowls when the Spanish Armada was spotted in the English Channel in 1588. Apparently he wasn’t concerned as the tides were wrong, only setting sail when they had turned. What a cool guy!
Anyway, that’s enough ancient history – Tim gets mighty bored with all that old stuff but is patient with my ‘oh look, that’s where he must have been playing bowls’ comments….Still it brings in the tourists and there were plenty about.
After a while we circled around Royal William Yard. The Royal Navy opened up this strategic site in 1992 and it has been redeveloped to provide a historic and iconic setting for contemporary restaurants, galleries and apartments. We circled round and soon reached the Cremyll Ferry crossing and stared across over the River Tamar to Cornwall. We stood at Cremyll in September last year and looked across to where we were standing now. We would go on to do lots more staring across estuaries over the next two weeks.
Zigzagging through the streets we made our way back to The Barbican for a coffee. Wow it was busy busy. Sitting down at Cap’n Jaspers we shared a table with an elderly gent who told us all about his holiday travels with Ramblers International. In 32 years he had visited 31 countries – some distant and remote and far far away from sunny Devon. He was very interesting but used the words “It was magic it was” all the time which turned out to be our holiday catchphrase.
Coffee finished we then headed away from the popular tourist areas and into the industrial part of town – honestly we wouldn’t be doing this at all if it wasn’t part of the official route. It wasn’t very nice, not to worry, it was a quiet Sunday afternoon which helped. We marched on and crossed the river into an area where we could enjoy our lunch then on again we passed Radford Castle which is actually a folly (not a castle!). There were also several remains of boats that had seen better days.
The rest of the walk was very pleasant – now we were looking back across the water to the city and passing a marina and eventually back to Mount Batten – named after RAF Mount Batten and the Seaplane station here.
Wednesday 12th July – Plymouth to Wembury
Parking the car at Wembury Church we put some cash into the honesty box and walked uphill to the bus stop. From here we could get ourselves to Plymouth and walk back.
All bus stops/routes and car parks had been researched as best we could via the Internet. Locals also give us advice and this morning we met another retired gent cycling his bike around the church car park. He confirmed our bus and stop. He had a great sense of humour and said that his wife sent him out everyday on his bike and told him not to return home until he was exhausted!
We were early but happy to wait for the bus at this stop with a view.
A small snail was taking a chance by crossing the footpath. This is how slow life can get on holiday!
Back in Plymouth we enjoyed a second breakfast at Cap’n Jaspers before getting the ferry across to the start of the walk.
It’s fair to say that we thoroughly enjoyed this walk. After an initial climb up and away from the Plymouth area we followed the path with ease. The Brittany Ferry was pulling in and a naval boat was pulling out of the harbour.
After a few hours we stopped at a lovely bench close to this spot and had lunch.
Further on we knew we were getting close to Wembury as the Great Mew Stone appeared.
A little further ahead we approached Wembury beach. Busy now with people enjoying themselves. It’s looked after by the national trust and looks good because of that.
After an enjoyable ice cream we continued up the estuary to the ferry crossing point. We have been avoiding crossing rivers by ferry as the tides mean you have to time things just right – we’d rather just go down to the crossing points as it’s less stressful. This does mean extra walking but we think it’s worth it.
Its especially worth it when you come across little dogs like this one who was doing her best to carry a large stick across the path and trip everyone up! Loved her enthusiasm.