Saturday, 20 September 2014

Day 11 - September 14th 2014 - Bantham to Hooe Lake, Plymouth

After what felt like a long break I returned to the South West Coast keen to resume this walk. During the six month gap I'd been making a long practise walk once a week to keep myself in shape. Mainly using the very hilly section between Sidmouth and Beer, which is fairly close to my home. I'd also taken up running having decided to enter a half-marathon. Overall I was feeling fitter and leaner than I had for years.

Before arriving I knew the passenger ferry that crosses the Avon from Bantham wouldn't be running on a Sunday, so Lea dropped me off near to Cockleridge on the opposite shore. I excitedly strolled down to the ferry landing stage where my journey proper could resume. The weather was good, no mud underfoot after a long dry spell. A stiff breeze was blowing a cool mist in from the sea, the sky grey. As I climbed up to Bigbury-on-Sea the Avon looked quite different compared to my arrival here in March. The tide was in making the estuary seem somehow smaller, surfers were enjoying the waves. I stopped briefly to enjoy the views of Burgh Island before moving on. Soon I was passing through Challaborough, there weren't many people around, the caravan park here very much had an 'end of season' feel about it.

As I headed out into more rural parts I was somewhat surprised to come across the remnants of an overnight rave at Ayrmer Cove. A diesel generator was powering a sound system and lights, there was a cluster of tents and several weary looking youngsters sitting around listening to the music. Bemused locals were exercising their dogs on the beach as usual. If these guys were responsible enough to clear up after themselves I wish them good luck. The cove is nowhere near any inhabited buildings, I see no reason why they shouldn't have have their fun. On the other hand if they're inconsiderate enough to leave a mess in a coastal beauty spot I condemn their choice of location.

After Ayrmer Cove the proper coast walking began. The path soon became hillier and much quieter, the scenery was superb. This is what it's all about. I had just sheep for company until I was almost at the River Erme. The only way to cross here is to wade across at low tide. I'd worked out in advance that my arrival would coincide with high water and indeed the estuary was full as anticipated. To save me a long detour on foot, or a wait of several hours for low tide, Lea met me at the crossing point and drove me around to the opposite bank, a seven mile drive through very narrow country lanes.

From The Erme the path was very quiet again as far as Stoke House. After here I walked through the area known as The Warren. The walking was enjoyable and easy here, the path well maintained and almost flat, high up with great sea views, livestock roaming free. The only disappointing thing was the attitude of the many local dog walkers. Despite numerous unmissable signs left by the land-owners politely asking path users to keep their pets under control due to frequent sheep attacks, the vast majority chose not to use a lead. Several over-excited barking dogs were running free

On the approach to Noss Mayo I made a navigational blunder. After misreading a sign I took a spur to the shore of The Yealm instead of the main path. I only realised my mistake after making a steep descent down a very rocky narrow path. To make matters worse I returned to the main path a different way, this path up through the woods becoming very overgrown and equally steep.

After extracting myself from the nettles and brambles I met with Lea again, she was waiting with lunch where the path meets a lane near Noss Mayo. After I took a short break it was time to cross The Yealm. As soon as I dropped the indicator board a small boat made its way over from the opposite shore. With the minimum of fuss I was quickly picked up and delivered to the opposite bank by the friendly ferryman, I was his only passenger. The fare of just £3.00 was excellent value for such a good service.

I pushed on, keen to make it to Plymouth by the end of the day's walking. The sun was burning through the greyness now and the wind dropping, making for a great September afternoon. Soon I was at Wembury Beach. It was a nice enough spot, though surely stretching the dictionary definition of the word 'beach'. There was only a small patch of course sand surrounded by much larger rocky areas. By now the fascinating Great Mew Stone dominated the view out to sea. From Wembury the path was easy going for quite a way, passing through gently rolling downland, many people were out for an afternoon stroll.

After Heybrook Bay I was pleased to catch my first views of Plymouth Sound and the distant city through the somewhat hazy air. At Bovisand Bay the path apparently came to a halt at a locked gate marked 'Danger, No Entry', this being the entry to Bovisand Fort. A couple out walking the coast path who'd arrived at the gate before me asked if I knew the way through to Plymouth. After wandering backwards and forwards for a while I spotted a small post pointing the way through the grounds of a small block of flats. It was overshadowed by much larger and brighter homemade signs declaring 'Private', 'No Parking', 'Residents Only'. I doubt we were the first to miss this turn, and I doubt we'll be the last.

The approach to Plymouth was more pleasant than I expected. Jennycliff was a nice walk, the unexpected 'Welcome to Plymouth, please wipe your feet' marker where you cross the city boundary here made me laugh. I wished I'd had more time to look at the various historical defences scattered around the hills. After rounding Mountbatten and passing various boat works I came to Hooe Lake, a peaceful spot. The legs of what must have once been a substantial railway bridge were among signs that in the past this area must have been the home of heavy industry. With 25 miles on the clock and time getting on I decided to stop for the day when I reached the Royal Oak pub. A pint of iced soft drink went down a treat while Lea made her way over to collect me.

Distance Walked Today 25.02 miles (40.26km)

Walking Time; 7 hours 50 minutes

Average Walking Speed 3.2 mph

Cumulative Distance Walked 241.87 miles (389.25km)

GPS Track;

The walking resumes here, looking across to Bantham Quay from the ferry landing point at Cockleridge

The view of Burgh Island from Bigbury-on-Sea

This is the stuff, the real coast walking gets underway and I have the path all to myself west of Challaborough

Arriving at the River Erme, with wading out of the question I was given a lift to the opposite bank

The Great Mew Stone

Wembury Beach
Plymouth Sound and Plymouth come into view at Heybrook Bay

Crossing the city boundary at Jennycliff.

No comments:

Post a Comment