Friday, 4 October 2013

Day 7 - October 3rd 2013 - Starcross to Torquay

Due to Met Office severe weather warnings of heavy rain and localised flooding my decision to walk today was left until the very last minute. After finishing at work I took a close look at the live rainfall rader images and decided to go for it; I could see that the heaviest of the rain would be passing shortly before I started and that conditions should improve in the afternoon.

A big downpour had left a lot of standing water when I set off from the railway station car park at Starcross, though the rain falling at the time was actually quite light. I made my way to Dawlish Warren along the unavoidable roads, though it was a bit better than the last time I walked through here as some new wide new footpaths have been constructed where before there were none. Soon after I started to walk along the sea wall between Dawlish Warren and Dawlish it began to rain quite hard again, the sea was rough and visibilty was poor. I'd chosen to walk this section today due to low tide falling at lunchtime, at high tide two sections of the coast path in this area are impassable.

Conditions stayed misreable as I did the first hilly sections after Dawlish and made my along the sea wall that takes you into Teignmouth. I just put my head down and got on with it at a good pace, reminding myself frequently that the rain wouldn't be lasting all day. To my surprise I saw three other individual long-distance walkers out on this section despite the foul weather, each of them alone and heading north.

At Teignmouth I thought it very unlikely the ferry would be operating in the rough seas, even if it was I didn't fancy waiting around for it in the deluge. So after buying a pasty for my lunch I headed straight for the The Saldon Bridge. To my relief the heavy rain started to ease off just before I crossed.

After Shaldon the weather gradually improved and the walk became far more pleasurable . The path closely follows the clifftops around scenic Labrador Bay. The coast road is too far away to be heard over the sound of crashing waves and you feel far from civilisation, I didn't see another person here for a couple of hours along this stretch. This was my favourite part of the walk today. Mind you, the going was pretty tough all the way. You're always going up or down and it's often steep. It was also quite overgrown in places, I was glad I was wearing waterproof trousers rather than shorts when I found myself wading through nettles and brambles. Low hanging branches weighed down by rain are an annoyance when you're six feet tall.

Apart from a couple of short road sections the path is surprisingly rural and rugged as it skirts around the built-up areas to the north of Torquay. The going remains quite hilly, but you are rewarded by some great views of various coves and cliffs. With the sun breaking though by now I enjoyed walking through here too, visibilty was improving and I caught occasional glimpes of Exmouth and western end of the Jurrasic Coast in the distance.

By the time I finally emerged into Torquay itself I was beginning to tire. It was hardly surprising; I'd been up since 1-45am and put in eight hours on the milkround before this walk. During that shift I'd probably walked at least another 10 miles. I made my way to the railway station and caught the first train back to Starcross where my car was parked. It took a mere 32 minutes to return me to the place it had taken me over 6 hours to walk from. As the the train passed along the spectacular line through Teignmouth and Dawlish I could see huge waves crashing over the sea walls I'd walked along earlier, this made me very pleased that I'd researched the tide times before setting off.

The walk today was very varied, both the terrain and the weather. Admittedly the first couple of hours wasn't much fun in terrible conditions. However I was glad I hadn't let the adverse weather stop me, by the end I felt exhilerated and with an overwhelming sense that I'd thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Distance Walked Today 21.12 miles (33.99 km)

Walking Time; 6 hours 03 minutes

Average Walking Speed 3.5 mph

Cumulative Distance Walked 158.89 miles (255.71 km)

GPS Track;

South Wet Coast Path, the live rainfall radar just before I set off
Heading south out of Dawlish as heavy rain falls, Lea Mount the first hill of the day ahead
A short video clip I recorded between Dawlish and Teignmouth during the downpour,
the path had turned into a river here
Looking back at Teignmouth through the murk
Yay, it starts to brighten up as I walk along the Labrador Bay cliff-top, the angle
between the fence and the horizon shows how steep it is here
Babbacombe Cliff Railway in the first rays of sun of the day,
the path goes under the track in a small tunnel
Ansteys Cove
Torquay Harbour and blue sky, a very welcome sight after the earlier deluge

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