What to say about this stretch of coast? There have been cliffs, busy seaside resorts, never-ending walks along sea walls, forays into the undercliff world that feels like a rainforest without the rain, the inevitable steep ascents and descents with huge numbers of steps … one thing’s for sure, the south coast of the Devon/ Cornwall peninsula is not any easier than the north coast! Even walking along a sea wall can be hard work, with hot feet on a hard surface for mile after mile.
It has been enjoyable though. Although my preference is for wild clifftops, there is something about English seaside resorts that I like. The endless rows of beach huts (who buys these? What are they really for? Can you sleep in them?), the past-their-heyday piers, the endless memorial benches (great idea, just need to spread them out more evenly along the coast path), the faded Victorian buildings … The easy monotonous walking along a sea wall allows your mind to wander all over the place.
Then just in case life was looking too easy, the path has thrown some viciously steep ascents and descents in my direction. It does feel a bit gratuitous sometimes, as the path takes you all the way down to the beach then back to the cliff top again, rather than skirting round the little valley where a stream meets the sea. I can do it, I’m feeling fit, but my left knee is starting to grumble about the steps.
And then there’s the undercliffs. I’ve been through a couple now, the longest one being between Axmouth and Lyme Regis, and it really is a different world. Formed when huge landslips occurred, with tons of earth slumping down from the cliffs, these are initially colonised by plants which love wide open spaces, then gradually by woodland (I’ve been reading all the information boards along the way). It is all south facing with a very mild climate, producing incredibly lush woodland that reminds me of the temperate rainforest of New Zealand or British Columbia. It’s quite challenging to walk through, with the path twisting and turning to follow the crests of ridges while avoiding the more densely vegetated hollows, and lots of mud and spider’s webs across the path (urgh!), but it is a very special environment to hike through.
And I am now getting close to the end of this walk. 549 miles done, 81 to go, not far now! And my sister Roz is joining me for the last few miles on Sunday and Monday, which is great – I can’t wait to see her!
Anyway, enough words. Here are some photos.