Tag Archives: South Devon

Plymouth to Exmouth (Part3) – Walking the South West Coastal Path

‘THERE YOU ARE, DON’T SAY I NEVER GIVE YOU ANYTHING ‘ the farmer shouted

With that his arm extended out of an old truck and In his hand he held a clump of weeds.  The back seat seemed to be full of the same weeds. We looked at each other…

‘WELL COME ON, TAKE THEM, I HAVEN’T GOT ALL DAY!’ he shouted (again).

Our walking friend stepped forward and took them, reluctantly.  The farmer drove off.

‘I’ll throw them in the hedge when he’s out of sight’ our walking friend whispered.

Tim looked down and said, ‘hang on, they’re peas’.

14th July 2017 – Kingston to Bigbury on Sea (8 miles)

This was the strangest start of any walking day.

We had been joined by another walker, who had also parked his car in the field (used as a car park), opposite Mount Folly Farm and we were waiting for the 9:30 bus.  Parking here, at £3 all day, is a good deal cheaper than the beach car park.

Our walker friend turned out to be a fellow South West Coastal Path follower  – having done the whole thing from Minehead in Somerset to Plymouth.  He was about to do a couple of days walking from Plymouth back to the car…

Discussing routes, ferries, parking, etc with a fellow South West Costal Path walker at the bus stop

The Farmer, whose land we had parked on, was an eccentric old boy who we first met (heard!) shortly after parking the car.  ‘THE BUS IS AT 9:30’ he had told us just before leaving us in peace.  Obviously, he was off to the fields to collect some vegetables (peas) and thought we might like some on his return.  He just liked to share and just liked to shout!

The bus arrived (at 9:30!) and off we went to Kingston, a small village near the River Erme estuary.  We picked up a crowd of people on the way and we were quite pleased to get off, leaving our friend to continue his journey to Plymouth in the unusually full bus.  We waved and wished each other well.

At Kingston Fire Station we got off and waved farewell to our walking friend

Time to check the map – it’s always a bit disorienting when you get off a bus in a strange place.  From here we walked past an old pub, down a lane, across a couple of fields and through wood to reach the start of the coastal path near the slipway at Wonwell Beach.

At this point, and in case you want to read the, here are links to my two previous posts linked to this trip

Plymouth to Exmouth (Part 1)

Plymouth to Exmouth (Part 2)

 

On the opposite bank of the River Erme, at the slipway near Wonwell Beach

So now we were back on the path.  We initially followed a small sandy track round the headland, slowly going uphill, in amongst high hedges and shrubs so our view was restricted a bit.

Once we were past the shrubs the shiny rocky coast looked quite dramatic and made us squint a bit in the sunshine.

The coastline all lit up in the morning sunshine

For several miles we followed the path stopping every now and then to admire the views. There were several small coves along the way, almost all of them were only accessible from the sea.

As we got closer to lunchtime we decided to try the peas.  Nervously we had a few each – straight out of the pods.  Not bad but apparently not as nice as they sometimes can be according to Tim.

Admiring the view

Living life on the edge, we ignored all the danger signs and found a perfect spot for lunch, just off the path.

‘Here’s a nice spot’

The great thing about carrying your lunch with you every day is that you can just about sit anywhere, whenever you choose.  This time we could see all the way down the coast ahead of us from a high spot.

Just in front was Ayrmer Cove with the grand total of 3 poeple on the beach.  As we finished our sandwich we spotted a drone flying up and down the beach, out to the rocks then over to us.  It was being flown by one of the beach party.  We picked up our packs and raced down the path to chat to the pilot.

Ayrmer Cove. The three people are just tiny dots just below the green mound of grass on the left.

Some people may have found this situation a bit annoying – out for the day, enjoying the peace and quiet.  However we love gadgets and photography in all forms so we were keen to to see whether we had been filmed and, if so, whether we could see the film.  As it turned out the drone was being used by a young lad who hadn’t figured out how to film yet, which was a shame.  His flying skills were impressive though.  We chatted away to him and his mum and sister for several enjoyable minutes.

 

The drone

Back up onto the headland, on towards Challaborough.  Is this a village or just a giant static caravan park?  No need to stop here, the cafe was doing a roaring trade to those wanting chips, beer and wine.  Large families, not all of them looking 1. Happy or 2. Healthy.

Not much further along we had a view of Bigbury on sea.  What a gorgeous view it was too.  There’s a island which is linked to the mainland by sand at low tide.  Burgh Island.  An Art Deco hotel stands proudly out there and people pay extraordinary amounts of money to stay.  Check it out if you dare!

Burgh Island Hotel

We had no time to go across to visit the island, hotel or the Pilchard Inn we had a bit more walking to do.

On the outskirts of Bigbury on sea. Burgh Island in view.

Usually at this point or time of the afternoon Tim starts promising ice creams at the next available opportunity.  I’m a bit of an ice cream fan and at the slightest mention of it I can think of nothing else!

Ice cream, Ice cream, Ice cream

Hurrah we made to the car park in front of the beach and lots of people were walking around with ice creams but could we find the cafe, no we couldn’t.  We circled round and round like tearful lost children looking for their parents.  Least that’s how it felt to me!  If you ever visit remember that this car park has two levels and the cafe is on the lower level, completely out of sight from the road!

So, we found it and we were absolutely delighted.  I can’t remember what flavour my ice cream was but it was one of the best.  I have to recommend the Venus cafe, the staff were cheerful and courteous.

And, by the way, the toilets next door were pretty good too!

The Venus Cafe at Bigbury on Sea. One of the best.

All we had to do now was get ourselves to the car (up Folly Hill Road) then nip down to the Avon estuary and return to the car.  That all sounds easy peasy doesn’t it.

Getting to the car was ok, up hill, but ok.  We tip toed through the farm on the opposite side of the road – the ‘pea’ farmers farm.  Then followed the path steeply down hill.  It was a wonderful afternoon.  Down and down it went until we reached the banks of the estuary to an area called Cockleridge.

It was low tide and everything was quite still.

Almost at the river.

The Cockleridge to Bantham Ferry runs on demand – so the sign says.  Between 10:00 and 11:00 then 03:00 and 04:00.  We sat and stared across the waterway.  As with all the other walks I’ve described so far, we didn’t need the ferry, we were just following the path.

And we made it back to the car too.

Who could complain with the sort of day we’d had.

The Avon – on the way back up to the car.

Plymouth to Exmouth (Part 2) – Walking the South West Coastal Path

This follows on from Plymouth to Exmouth (Part 1)

13th July 2017 – Noss Mayo to Mothecombe (11 miles)

Today we had some tricky logistics to deal with.  We needed a bus to get us to Noss Mayo (a tiny place on the River Yealm estuary) from Mothercombe, which is an even smaller place, on the River Erme estuary.

If you’ve read my previous blog the second walk finished with us at the River Yealm estuary – looking across the water towards Noss Mayo.  These estuaries do run small ferry services for walkers but as mentioned previously we don’t like the pressure of getting to these by a set time.

After quite a bit of online investigation we found an estate called ‘Flete’ which had a car park for visitors at Mothecombe.  The only problem was

1. They didn’t officially open until 9:00

2. The bus stop was a mile away from the car park

3. The bus we needed was due at 9:21.

Buses in some parts are so infrequent it was important to get this one – infact it was the only bus of the day!

We got up ultra early to make sure we could park (somewhere) and get to the stop on time.  Thankfully the Flete Estate had their gates open at 8:30 which gave us enough time to make our way to the bus stop.

The only thing that passed us was this tiny buggy vehicle.

Watch the traffic!

After hanging around in a tiny hamlet of Battisborough Cross ‘our bus’ arrived. I say our bus as we were the only passengers and it was ‘ours’ all the way to Noss Mayo.  It really made me wonder how long bus services will continue with so few passengers in this part of the world.

Off we went, stopping no where and picking up no one.  After about 20 minutes or so we arrived at Noss Mayo.  Now on foot we made our way through this very picturesque village on the River Yealm estuary.  Very typical of villages in such places – the houses are staggered steeply up either side of the estuaries.

Actually this is Noss Creek to be precise.

Noss Mayo – 2 minutes from the bus stop

Looking down onto the estuary.

Close to where the ferry crosses. This is looking across to Newton Ferrers

We eventually found the ferry slipway and as this is the continuation of the coastal path we knew we were on our way again.

There’s an old Ferrymans Cottage right where the tarmac finishes and woodland track starts.  It must have seen some comings and goings over the years.  The toll sign on the wall of the Toll Cottage really gives you a picture of how it used to be.

The price of transporting goods

Ferrymans Cottage

Into the woodland we went, gradually climbing uphill. It was a beautiful morning and we enjoyed the cool of the trees with occasional glimpses of boats on the blue/green water.

Lovely wood, crystal clear water.

Once out of the wood we stopped to admire the views at the entrance of the estuary and turned left along a very good, broad high level track.  The rocky coast, including many coves, looked quite spectacular and we were able to admire them as we made our way along the track.

The temperature was starting to rise but we had a breeze over our shoulders which was lovely.  Around the headland we passed through a small wood which lead to the entrance of a static caravan park.

We thought we could, perhaps, pop into a shop on the site for extra drinks but a lady at the gate said (in a very posh voice) ‘no sorry, there’s a pub up the road though’.  On an 11 mile walk the last thing you really want to do is add on an extra mile so we continued on our way….slightly disbelieving this slightly snooty lady.  I have, since returning from holiday, checked out Revelstoke Park caravan park and Church Cove and there are no facilities so this lady was actually telling the truth.  Remember to take your own if you’re ever exploring this area!

It actually was a very quiet, remote spot – we paused a couple of times to look down onto the cove and the caravan park we had passed.

High above Stoke Beach and the caravan park

Now we needed to stop for lunch and just around the corner was a very convenient stone (could have been marble) bench at Beacon Hill.  These benches often have inscriptions on ‘In memory of …. who loved this spot’ or similar.  This one, rather sadly, had the name of a young man who was only 19 when he died.

Onward after lunch we descended over grass then ascended on a track to another path which lead around to fields with crops.  Always a pleasure to walk through ‘fields of gold’.

Fields of gold

There followed several more miles and several more edges of fields.

Thoroughly enjoying myself

We reached a very impressive rocky cove called Bugle.  After this the headland took us around so that we could see the estuary of the river Erme.  Nearly back then?  Not quite.

Down onto Mothecombe Beach we went.

Mothecombe Beach

In today’s sunshine it was an idyllic spot and hardly another person in sight.

Then we had to climb up another path through trees then down and onto the sands of Coastguards Beach and the slipway to the end of the path.  From here, at low tide, other South West Coastal Walkers can wade across to the otherside.  Not us, we took a few minutes to admire the view then made our way back to the car park and our car – 15 minutes uphill!

It cost £4 to park the car which we paid on exiting the car park.

It is possible to wade across the Erme estuary at low tide.

 

Plymouth to Exmouth (Part 1) – Walking the South West Coastal Path

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.

Jetty onto the ferry

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.

Historic hot spot

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.

Royal William Yard

Looking across to Cornwall from a the ferry crossing

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.

Our coffee stopping point – just over there…

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 folly just ahead and old boat which 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.

Looking back across to Plymouth

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!

Wembury from the bus stop – and our car

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.

Time for lunch

Further on we knew we were getting close to Wembury as the Great Mew Stone appeared.

The Great Mew

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.

Approaching Wembury – well done National Trust

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.

The River Yealm estuary

Coming back up from the crossing point at the River Yealm

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.

Little legs, big stick. She was so excited.