At Exmouth is the first of many water obstacles on the
South West Coast Path - the River Exe. I found the dock for the ferry to Starcross,
but there I met some yachties waiting for the water taxi to take them and their
shopping back to their boats. The water taxi driver agreed to drop me at the tip
of Dawlish Warren, from where I had an easy walk along the sand, rather better
than the road walk from Starcross.
From Dawlish Warren the path followed
the seawall beside the railway to Dawlish
and, after a short hilly inland section, to Teignmouth. I took a short ferry ride
across the mouth of the Teign to Shaldon,
then started some serious climbing. It was a clear day, with views back to the
Dorset coast I had walked 3 days before. By the time I reached Babbacombe I had
walked 21 miles, and I was ready to rest. Finding a B&B in Babbacombe was
harder than I expected - most of the accommodation seemed to be targeted at retirees
in coach parties, and was not interested in walkers. I had walked most of the
way into Torquay by the time I found a bed in a small hotel - which looked like
From Torquay to Brixham the guidebook
warned of a lot of pavement pounding, and I was very tempted to take the ferry
across the bay. But I thought better of it - taking ferries across rivers is one
thing, but using transport to avoid the less interesting bits would definitely
be cheating. Actually it was quite a pleasant walk across the sands at Paignton
and through the woods to Churston Bay and Brixham. The next bit, to Dartmouth,
was a surprise. My mental map of Devon put Brixham and Dartmouth almost next door
to each other, but it took me well over 5 hours of serious ups and downs to reach
Kingswear and the ferry across the Dart.
was full of expensive shops and restaurants catering for the yachting fraternity,
and I was not sorry to leave next morning. This was a day of contrasts - fine
walking round Blackstone Point at the mouth of the Dart, a tedious and dangerous
stretch of road walking through Strete, level walking along Slapton Sands to Torcross,
then one of the best sections of the whole coast path - great scenery for not
a lot of effort - round Start Point
to East Prawle.
More great walking next day from Prawle
Point to East Portlemouth and the ferry to Salcombe was followed by road walking
to South Sands, a beach I last visited almost half a century ago (the beach had
not changed, but the car park seemed a lot bigger). Then a spectacular route round
Sharp Tor and Bolt Head to Bolt Tail,
and gentler walking past Inner Hope and Outer Hope to Bantham and the B&B
at West Buckland.
Day 17 was wet - the first rain since
Salisbury Plain. This was a day of logistical problems - a ferry across the Avon
which only started at 10 am, a wade across
the Erme which is only possible an hour either side of low tide, and a ferry
across the Yealm which stopped running at 4 pm. The first two worked out, the
Yealm ferry didn't. I reached the ferryslip at Noss Mayo at 5 pm and the ferryman
had gone home. After some looking around I found a B&B in nearby Newton
Next day was fine again. I took the boat
across the Yealm and headed for Plymouth. "Welcome to Plymouth, please wipe
your feet", said the sign.
I sat for a while watching the ships in
Plymouth Sound, then took the ferry across the Plym to the Hoe.
This was the biggest city on the whole trip, and I headed into town to do some
shopping. On a whim, I walked down King Street where my parents were married 66
years to the day before my mother died. The church is no longer there, bombed
soon after my parents married in 1940. The flats and shops which line the street
now were a reminder of how much the world had changed in my parents' lifetime.