SOUTH WEST COAST PATH
saturday, 10TH september 2016
It looks like it will be a filthy start to the day but if I'm patient the weather should improve throughout the day and I should have some decent walking conditions later on.
Paignton high tide 12:15
Paignton low tide 18:33
We start the first day of Autumn coast path walking by taking the car over the River Dart on the Higher Ferry and then drive into Dartmouth and park up. It's a filthy start to the day and chucking it down so I hang around in the car for a bit hoping the rain will ease off. It doesn't so I don my waterproofs and head off.
I head through the lower part of Dartmouth, not particularly enjoying the manky weather.
I cross back over the River Dart to Kingswear using the lower ferry which costs me £1.50. On reaching Kingswear I pass under an arch next to the post office and then climb up Alma Steps.
I take one final look back over to Dartmouth and then set off for Brixham.
I follow a minor road out of the village and then follow a private road towards Kingswear Court. I enter Warren Woods and zig zag down a slope, cross over a stream and then zig zag up the other side of the valley.
I now have lovely views back over to Dartmouth Castle on the other side of the river mouth. At least they would be lovely if it wasn't still raining heavily!
I reach Brownstone Battery at Inner Froward Point, built in 1940 to protect the Dart estuary and Slapton and Blackpool Sands from enemy invasion. The battery consists of two gun positions and each would have been armed with six inch guns. The gun emplacements remain to this day as do the two magazines that served the guns. Below the gun emplacements are two searchlight positions which would have scanned the sea for enemy ships.
The path zig zags up and down the cliffs towards Outer Froward Point where, out to sea, can be seen Shooter Rock, Shag Stone and Mew Stone. I continue meandering along the coast path passing Old Mill Bay, Kelly's Cove and Pudcombe Cove. On the way I come across some friendly ponies who just stand around blocking the coast path.
Eventually a fellow walker turns up and barges through the ponies. I follow in his footsteps.
I come across the rear entrance of Coleton Fishacre which used to be infested with rhododendrons (presumably ponticum) but these appear to have been grubbed up now leaving hydrangeas all around.
The weather is finally brightening up and I can see some bits of blue sky. I come across a sign telling me that Man Sands is two and a quarter miles away.
I come across an apple tree laden with apples and presumably grown from a discarded core before rounding Scabbacombe Head where the skies are now decidedly blue. I pass another pony munching on the bracken.
A steep, slippery and muddy descent leads me down to Scabbacombe Sands. The edge of the stream near the top of the beach smells of mint. The beach is deserted.
I head along the cliffs high above Long Sands and round Crabrock Point, passing Crabrock Point Coastguard Cottage, to reach Man Sands where I enjoy the pebbly and sandy beach.
It is a steep climb up onto Southdown Cliff where I pass cows making an awful racket.
I reach Sharkham Point and then head around St Mary's Bay, passing below the holiday village. I head down some scabby steps where the cliffs are infested with japanese knotweed and head out onto St Mary's Bay Beach. There are a few dog walkers on the beach.
It is now a short walk to Berry Head, a National Nature Reserve, where I amble along the meandering paths.
I join a road which passes the Berry Head Hotel and walk through Shoalstone Car Park. It is now a pleasant waterfront walk leading me into Brixham where I pass above the art deco Shoalstone Sea Water Pool. A harbourside walk from the breakwater takes me to the centre of the town where a statue of William Prince of Orange, who landed here on the 5th of November 1688, stands at the head of the harbour.
Brixham is heaving with people on this now pleasant Saturday afternoon, probably not helped by the fact that Fishstock Brixham seafood and music festival is taking place today.
I go in search of an ice lolly to cool me down and then pass the full sized replica of the Golden Hind in which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe and then pass Brixham Fish Market, where Fishstock is in full swing, before heading out of Brixham at Oxen Cove next to what was once AstraZeneca's Brixham Environmental Laboratory but which was donated to Plymouth University in 2013.
I enjoy the sandy beach here before walking past the colourful beach huts and exit at the far end of the beach, passing beneath the railway viaduct.
I then follow the railway line towards Goodrington Sands and the Paignton to Kingswear steam train passes me, heading in the opposite direction. I head along the beach at Goodrington Sands, passing the colourful beach huts and head past the Inn on the Quay. The emptying pints on the tables look very inviting.
I follow paths over Roundham Head and walk through Roundham Gardens where I have lovely views back over Goodrington Sands.
Paignton is now laid out in front of me.
I pass Paignton's tiny harbour and walk along the esplanade to reach the pier where I head inland in search of a much needed ice lolly. It has been a hot end to the day.
I head along the busy Paignton streets full of amusement arcades and it's now time to finish my walk by heading inland along the busy main road to reach the village of Marldon, on the outskirts of Paignton, where our holiday cottage for the week resides.
Unbelieveably, although I've been climbing up and down cliffs all day long, the long ascent out of Paignton to Marldon proves to be the steepest ascent of the day!
FLORA AND FAUNA
Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-
- fig trees
- oxeye daisies
- black sheep
- red campion
- red admiral butterflies
- speckled wood butterflies
- a comma butterfly
MARKS OUT OF TEN?
According to my phone I've walked 22.6 miles today which amounts to 50823 steps. Ouch! It has been a lovely day's walking on the South West Coast Path, despite a manky start to the day. Nine out of ten!
My total ascent today has been 1161 metres or 3809 feet.