Thursday, June 01, 2017

Chalk replaces red sandstone

Looking ahead

Down then up!

View back past Sidmouth

Day 12, Thu June 1st, Sidmouth to Beer

Yettanother sunny day. Only a few drops have fallen on us so far. What's happening to England's climate???

Several BIG ups and downs today, beautiful coastline, rocks changing from red (Triassic sandstone) to white (Jurassic chalk) just before we got to Beer. We hung out on a stony (but pleasant) beach for an hour around midday, looked at a few old buildings in Branston village around 1PM, had a light lunch, then walked the last half hour or so to Beer. Easy peasy.

A couple of nice photos follow. And in the meantime I'm going to try to collate the input from 15 people for dinners next week in Christchurch. Groan. Or maybe I'll punt and just play games :-).

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Day 11, Wed May 31, Otterton to Sidmouth

After making it through the nettle gauntlet, we spent a very enjoyable three hours in Bicton Gardens, a three hundred-year old 60+ acre property with many huge trees and rhododendrons. I posted a couple of pictures of this yesterday, but didn't have time to blog. It's a busy and harried trip leader that I am!

The hike was pleasant -- mostly flat along high red cliffs, with a couple of big ups and downs at the end of the day. Like most of the hikes so far, we have been coming in under the planned time... a combination of being a fit set of hikers, and generous times specified in the book I used for planning the trip.

Nice little hotel in Sidmouth (Dukes), and a great dinner in The Salty Monk!

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Sea stacks near Sidmouth

Sweet chestnut tree

Bicton Gardens rhododendron

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Exeter cathedra

Day 10, Tue May 30th, Teignmouth to Otterton

Proper British weather today -- a little sun, some clouds, a shower... the only thing missing was a bit of wind ;-). We skipped a boring bit of the coast from Teignmouth (which is a gritty sort of place) to the river Exe, in favour of visiting Exeter Cathedral... which was a good decision. Nice place, Exeter -- has a solid and friendly feel to it, with many old buildings. And the cathedral is superb -- we took a tour, which lasted an hour but could have lasted eight, with a very knowledgeable and friendly guide.

Afterwards, a quick train ride down to Exmouth and then a walk along the coast to Budleigh Salterton, followed by a river walk inland to Otterton where we are spending the night. Not a particularly pretty part of the coast... flat walking above low red cliffs, with too many holiday camps and people (for my taste... and yes, I realize I've been saying that there aren't enough people on the coast :-). Only photo today is from Exeter cathedral... of their cathedra (hence cathedral), which is one of the tallest and most ornate in existence and dates, like much else in the cathedral, back to the 13th Century.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Our train to Paignton

Madeleine? Where?

Colour rush!!!!

4M high Echiums!

Day 9, Mon May 29th, Dartmouth to Teignmouth

We spent three nights in Dartmouth... as planned... but the two days we spent there did not run according to plan. The weather forecast was bad both days... although as it turned out, both days were mostly fine... and so instead of hiking along the Coast Path to Brixham, we spent a day playing games, and another visiting the Coleton FIshacre National Trust house and gardens. Stayed in an excellent little hotel, very friendly and generous, and we ate very well in some of Dartmouth's larger collection of excellent restaurants. A very much appreciated restful interlude after six days of hiking.

Liked Dartmouth... the only negative was the brown stains on many walls due to seagulls defecating on the wing. I suppose it has always been like this along the coast, but I never noticed it before. Some houses looked like a herd of cows had been grazing on their walls... yuck!

Today we had a varied day -- starting off with a ferry ride across the Dart, followed by a steam train to Paignton, then a bus to Babbacombe, a hike (3h15m) to Shaldon, and another ferry to Teignmouth, where we are staying the night. Weather warm and muggy, fog in the morning, mostly burned off by early afternoon. Lots of ups and downs along the coast here... some of them long and steep... so people were panting.

The stretch with the bus from Paignton through the center of Torquay was a bit ghastly at times -- seaside British kitch and pretty rundown in places. Despite this, teeming with people. In contrast to the Coast Path, which has been for the most part pretty empty. Some days we've only seen a couple of other walkers each hour we spent hiking. While I'm glad to not have to walk past and with hordes along the trails, it leaves me less optimistic about democracy. What hope is there that people will choose good representatives, if they can't even make good holiday decisions? Sigh.

A few pictures to follow....

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Day 6, Fri May 26, Beesands to Dartmouth

Blue skies, easy walk. The Cricket Inn in Beesands is a great place to stay -- not much to look at from outside, but nicely renovated inside, excellent food, and run by a jovial chap for whom the inn seems more like a lifestyle choice than a business. Many locals, pub atmosphere, and a pleasant bunch of Czechs waiting on the tables (once again, what are the Brits going to do if all these service workers from Eastern Europe up and leave???).

As for the hike, either the walk was easy, or we are getting fitter. 9:45 to 3:45, perhaps 45 mins for lunch, and everyone still seemed chipper and energetic on arrival. Dartmouth seems like a nice town... a little bigger than what we have seen so far, but a small town feel to it still. We'll spend three nights here... which will be nice: nomadic life has its attractions, but sometimes it is nice to not have to pack in the morning....

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

England... or the Mediterranean?

...after cove

Cove after cove...

Looking back at Salcombe

Day 5, Thu May 25, Salcombe to Beesands

Sunny days are here again.... At times a stiff breeze, otherwise a perfect hiking day. Ferry across the river to start (tide running strongly out of the 65 square kilometer estuary), then a fairly rugged hike for the first 3/4, followed by a gentle finish to the day. Shorter than planned. Neat old hotel -- The Cricket Inn (we're staying a room called "Lords"), with colourful local characters and owner... and Czech staff: they're going to have immense problems in their restaurant and hotel industry post-Brexit!

Off to find my peeps and play some games :-).

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First view of Salcombe

Dramatic paths

Cliffs and coombs

Day 4, Wed May 24, Hope Cove to Salcombe

Grey skies while hiking, sun for the afternoon garden visit and outside evening dinner. The hike was advertised as being one of the most beautiful along the whole South West Coast Path... and although I'm not sure it would make the top 5%, it was lovely. Clifftop hiking punctuated by steep descents into and ascents out of painterly coombs. Wild cliffs and tors, with stunning views.

Salcombe is a bit of an odd blend of old-style fishing and sailing village with nouveau riche McMansions and brand stores and galleries... but beautiful nevertheless. Perhaps best viewed from afar.

Overbeck's Garden was less impressive than others I've visited... at least as measured by ideas for garden plants/trees/bushes/features gleaned. Still, nice to spend a couple of hours there having a late light lunch and wandering around the garden. Dinner was in the Crab Shed... or rather next to it on the water as the sun went down. B&B was correct.

People seem to be enjoying themselves... as they should! This has been near perfect so far :-).

Photos to follow.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Looking down into Hope Cove

Strong prevailing winds, it seems!

Who knows what this is?

Day 3, Tue May 23, Bigbury on Sea to Hope Cove

No rain still... but light fog with pleasantly cool (for hiking) temperatures. Given yesterday's sunburns... perfectly acceptable.

Mel & Jan and Matt & Pam joined as planned and we had excellent fish & chips at Fryer Tuck's for dinner. Our B&B was very pleasant, although the 7:30AM breakfast time (due to the owner having to go off to work) was a little early for some of us.

Today's hike was a nice change -- we spent most of the time walking around the Avon estuary along the Avon Valley trail. The tide was out, so the first mile or so we walked on the sand, then through woods and fields with ever and anon views down into an intriguing landscape of mud- and sand-banks, pools, and the winding path of the river. Swans, ducks, egrets, and maybe a buzzard. Hike today was shorter than planned -- I'd say 5.5 instead of 6.5 hours... which made up for yesterday being an hour longer than expected :-).

Slightly dated small hotel tonight with slightly dated guests... but as long as some games are played, and the food is decent, I don't think there will be too many complaints.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Ups and downs

Looking back

Looking ahead to Bigbury

Rocky coastline

Erme estuary

Foxglove up close

Buttercups from afar

Day 2, Mon May 22, Noss Mayo to Bigbury on Sea

Sunburns. We have sunburns. In England. In May. Despite wearing sunscreen. Either the ozone layer has suddenly disappeared, or the weather is really as good as it seems to be.

A beautiful hike as well as a beautiful day. 9:15 start, 4:15 finish, with about an hour break midday for a taxi ride around the Erme estuary and drinks in a 15thC pub. We haven't had lunch yet... those full English breakfasts are just too much (and too good). Dinner yesterday in The Ship Inn in Noss Mayo was fine (although not as good as tThe Greedy Goose the night before), and Worswell Barton Farmhouse and B&B, where we spent the night, was excellent.

Lots of ups and downs today, into and out of picturesque coves. Very few other people on the trails... maybe a dozen people outside of a few beach areas all day. I know it is Monday, and May, and the West Country is far from the world, but what is wrong with people that they don't go hiking along this beautiful coast more often? I'm finger-frozen (speechless, when typing).

Two new pairs of hikers are joining us this evening -- Matt & Pam, and Mel & Jan. Looking forward to them... and to tomorrow's hike!

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Looking forward

Looking back

Happiness is fresh legs

The mouth of the River Yealm

Day 1, Sun May 21, Plymouth to Noss Mayo

Can you say, "Perfect hiking weather"? I know you can. GIve it a try. Sun and clouds, a light breeze, around 18-20C... perfect.

Excellent dinner last night in The Greedy Goose (and weren't we just). Solid breakfast at the Four Seasons Guesthouse this morning. No lunch :-).

We walked around the Hoe a little, looking at the various military memorials (Plymouth is a Navy town... always has been, probably always will be) before taking the Mountbatten ferry across the harbour entrance (to save a couple of hours city walking along the Plymouth waterfront). The hike was for the most part delightful... a fair number of ups and downs, some busier parts and some isolated stretches with just a few walkers (it's a fine Sunday, so there were quite a few people about at times), good looking coastline, and an improbably beautiful ria at the mouth of the River Yealm with a scattering of boats moored near the tiny fishing hamlets of Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo.

Just a short day -- we didn't really push it, and hiked for 4.5 hours or so. Legs feel pleasantly and appropriately worked out, but not especially tired. We're staying at a working farm called Worswell Barton, old building, mod cons, comfy and lots of space. In an hour or so we'll walk down to Noss Mayo for an early dinner in the Ship Inn, before coming back for what will no doubt be an early night. RIght now Russ is snoozing and I suspect Rochelle is doing the same. Where are game players when you need them!?!

Photos follow.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

SWCP3 Stage 0 -- Plymouth, Sat May 20

Arrived as planned... staying in the same B&B as the last time... ready to start the hike tomorrow. Weather forecast for the next 10 days: dry and seasonable temps. Woohoo! Probably won't be true, but a man can dream, can't he? Russ, Rochelle, and I are off to the Greedy Goose for dinner this evening... located in the oldest house in Plymouth.

It begins.

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