south west coast path
wednesday, 14th september 2016
After yesterday's thundery weather it looks like today will be a lovely day for walking. Perfect autumnal weather.
Dartmouth low tide 10:36
Dartmouth high tide 17:11
I depart from the ferry and pass the Floating Bridge Inn and amble along the waterfront into Dartmouth..
I continue ambling through Dartmouth before walking along the cobbled waterfront, passing Bayards Cove Inn and then through Bayards Cove Fort, a small Tudor artillery fort guarding Dartmouth's inner harbour. I climb steps to leave the waterfront and head through Warfleet Creek and towards St Petrox Church.
From here I head next door to Dartmouth Castle which, for over 600 years, has guarded the narrow entrance to the Dart estuary.
I pass above Castle Cove where dogs are being exercised. It looks rather inviting down on the sandy and shingly beach but my path heads upwards.
I climb steeply and then the path zig zags out towards Blackstone Point, Coombe Point and then Warren Point. I have some final lovely views back to Dartmouth.
I also now have fantastic views over to my destination for the day, Slapton Sands and Torcross.
I pass secluded coves on the way, there are numerous dogwalkers and the skies are full of housemartins, before I head inland to reach a minor road at Little Dartmouth.
I come across a small copper butterfly feeding on an oxeye daisy. Not my greatest ever photograph I've taken but it's only the third small copper I've seen this year. It hasn't been a great year for butterflies.
The hydrangeas in the lanes around here are looking lovely.
I come across walkers enjoying the early morning sun including one person in a David Bowie t-shirt. I come across clumps of ivy heaving with bees, wasps, flies and red admiral butterflies.
This road leads to the A379 which takes me in to Stoke Fleming. I barely stay on the A379 before heading up Ravensbourne Lane and then Venn Lane where I come across what must practically be the whole village playing boules. How have I magically managed to cross the English Channel and ended up in France?
I walk down lanes through the village, surrounded by rooks, and come out next to the Green Dragon and St Peter's Church.
I can't find any coast path signs so wrongly follow the A379 out of Stoke Fleming. I know I've gone wrong because further on down the road I come across a coast path sign pointing back to Stoke Fleming above the road.
I continue along the road where I have lovely views over Blackpool Sands before the path ducks down between bushes and past the toilet block and out on to the beach.
I have a potter around the sandy and shingly beach and there are quite a few people on the beach enjoying the beautiful weather. I wander back to the Venus Beach Cafe where I go in search of an ice lolly as I'm starting to get quite hot. They must be running supplies down for the winter as they don't have much choice so I settle for a strawberry mini milk. It doesn't last long!
I leave Blackpool Sands via a lovely woodland path but when I leave the woods I find that conditions are sudden overcast. Huh?! I cross a steep grassy valley and have some lovely views one last time back over Blackpool Sands.
I follow the A379 out of Strete but it's not long before I come across a new section of the South West Coast Path, only opened in July 2015, which takes me away from the busy main road. It's rather nice on this new section and I come across a pair of jays straight away.
The path takes me down towards Strete Gate picnic site and I pass a bench with magnificent views over Slapton Sands. The bench is dedicated to the memory of Philip and Mary Carter. Thank you Philip and Mary.
I continue descending to Strete Gate and come across a small tortoiseshell butterfly feeding on buddleia.
Even though it is getting quite late in the year, the wild flowers around here are looking lovely.
I pass a sign pointing up the bridleway where I used to come down onto Slapton Sands.
I drop down onto Slapton Sands and trudge along the sandy and shingly beach. It has turned back into a beautiful day. I'm usually defeated by the shingle and blustery winds and head for a path by the main road but conditions are perfect today so I head all the way along the beach to Torcross. Actually, the beach isn't as shingly as I remember it.
We drive back to Dartmouth for some chips by the river with a beautiful view over to Kingswear.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-
- great tits
- small copper butterfly
- ox eye daisies
- common toadflax
- lords and ladies
- red admirals
- red valerian
- white valerian
- sweet chestnuts
- red campion
- a small tortoiseshell butterfly
- great mullein
- musk mallows (I think)
- perforate st john's-wort
- common centaury
MARKS OUT OF TEN?
According to my phone I've walked 11.4 miles today which amounts to 25011 steps. The weather has been glorious and the walking as good as it gets. I'm in a generous mood. Ten out of ten!
My total ascent today has been 488 metres or 1601 feet.