Salcombe to Seatown

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.

View back to Salcombe
Footpath around Prawle Point. Weather infinitely better than previous few days!
Start Point
Lone tree and threatening clouds near Strete
Brownstone Battery, near Dartmouth – coastal defences from the second World War
Scabbacombe Head
Black sky over Brixham Harbour. Even though the sky went very dark several times over these few days, it rarely produced showers lasting more than 5 minutes (just long enough to persuade me to put my waterproofs on, before stopping!)
Beach huts at Paignton
Paignton Pier
Torquay Cliff Railway, built in 1926 to save holidaymakers a long climb from beach to town. Not coast path walkers – that would be cheating!
Walking along the sea wall at Teignmouth – long, hot, but at least it’s flat
Boat on pebble beach, Budleigh Salterton. A beautiful evening’s walk. Strictly speaking, wild camping isn’t allowed in England, but as long as you set up late, leave early and don’t leave a mess, it isn’t a problem. So a few times (like here) I’ve had an early dinner in the pub, then walked on and camped about 8pm.
Shingle bar outside Budleigh Salterton
Wild camp at Brandy Head
Startlingly red cliffs near Ladram Bay
The Esplanade at Sidmouth – a few steep ascents coming up!
Hooken Undercliffs near Beer Head
Axmouth – Lyme Regis Undercliff. A national nature reserve, a beautiful section of path but pretty hard work!
Chalk cliffs peeping through dense undergrowth, Axmouth -Lyme Regis Undercliff.

4 Responses

  1. Rebecca
    | Reply

    Thanks very much for posting these lovely photos. I just finished reading “The Salt Path” by Ray Winn and found your website after googling for pictures. I very much wanted to see what that part of the country looks like.

  2. Rita Savage.
    | Reply

    Pleased that you and Roz will be together for a while. She will give you an extra hug – for me! Fantastic achievement walking all those many miles. Much love from your Mum.

  3. John -Grey Wolf
    | Reply

    Great photos and blog. Always delighted to read your story. Plus darn those spider webs. I guess they are a world wide morning hiking issue.

  4. thomas molyneux
    | Reply

    great photos. I’m well jealous of you doing this hike, now the weathers better!! wasn’t jealous when it was wet!! have a great time with your sister and well done.

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