At 6am I climbed out of my tent to make a cup of tea and breakfasted on cereal bars as usual. An hour later I was packed up and out on the trail again, making my way initially along the country lane with views of the Cannington Viaduct. I had tried to find a route that would take me beneath this magnificent structure but unfortunately it wasn’t possible because I had a specific plan for something different in the middle of my 18 mile walk on this day.
Instead of dropping down to the coast path as I would normally do, I stayed inland, following the East Devon Way along the ridge. This detour was to be almost my downfall! Walking past a somewhat rough looking farm, I heard dogs barking and before I knew it three were racing out towards me. This doesn’t normally bother me because you get used to dogs barking – the owners often tell me its the rucksack they don’t like. On this occasion though, one of the dogs, fortunately the smallest, bit my leg. Also, fortunately, it didn’t break the skin! Nevertheless, I politely pointed out to the farmer the error of his ways…..and his rubbish dog control skills, and I received a mumbled apology in reply.
Aside from that incident, the first few miles of the day were enjoyable, although the track was not always well way marked – at one point I had the distinct impression that I was walking through someones garden, but it seemed that that was the way the path went although the signage wasn’t that clear. It did at least in part follow the River Axe and having a river always helps with navigation 🙂 !
After 7 miles of walking, I reached Colyton and the end of the first part of my walk. This was because Colyton is the northern terminus of the Seaton and District Electric Tramway that runs from here down to the coast at Seaton. I had walked past the southern terminus many times and had wanted to ride the tram for years but had never quite got round to it. I was determined to do it on this walk so I deliberately varied my route.
So I picked up my tram and had a very pleasant, ‘vintage’ 30/40 minutes ride down to Seaton. The tramway is actually modern, having been built in 1970 but the track bed is historic, having been originally the Seaton Branch Line that joined the Exeter to Salisbury main railway line. This closed in the 1960’s thanks to Lord Beeching but its legacy continues in the form of trams.
The only issue I had with the tram was that I wanted to sit on the open top deck but I couldn’t get my rucksack up the narrow stair well because the trams are not full size. It was a minor issue though and I still enjoyed my trip 🙂 !
Leaving the tramway behind, I rejoined the coast path at the Seaton sea front. It was surprisingly quiet on this beautiful day.
This part of the coast is another of those where you have to detour inland along the road for a time. It is not a long section though as very soon, the delightful old fishing village of Beer came into view. Beer is one of my favourite places, especially today because it was nearing lunch time and I was looking forward to having lunch on the beach with a nice cup of tea from the kiosk 🙂 !
It was another extremely warm day so I sat at a table with an umbrella and I enjoyed my lunch whilst gazing out to sea. Naturally, I took pictures of the multiple deckchairs too, although most were empty! I wondered where all the people were!
Having refuelled, I reluctantly left Beer and climbed up onto the headland again where the sight before me seemed strange…….dark clouds were gathering! And it wasn’t only the sight either, the wind had increased considerably, to the extent that I had to take my hat off or risk losing it! The reason this was strange was the fact that this had been a very hot, dry summer – I couldn’t remember the last time I had walked in the rain!
I continued along the clifftop in the gathering gloom, dropping down to sea level at Branscombe Mouth, only to climb up the other side.
By the time I reached Weston Mouth, the sky looked ominous, although as a photographer, I didn’t mind because this sort of weather produces much more interesting and atmospheric pictures.
This was particularly spectacular on the beach where the wind was whipping the waves up a treat, with a heavy sky for a backdrop. It still wasn’t raining so I enjoyed my time on the beach trying to capture the awesome, angry mood of the scene.
It was as I climbed up the steeply sloped side of the next headland that the rain started to fall……heavily! It was actually quite timely though because half way up the slope a narrow side path led to Weston Plats where I could shelter amongst the trees.
Weston Plats is a cliff ‘slump’ caused by erosion. This has formed a fairly level ‘shelf’ half way between the shore and the clifftop. With south facing aspect, fertile soil, the protection of the cliffs behind, and a nearby spring to provide water, this was once a thriving market garden run by villagers. Produce from here in the 19th/20th century was sent as far away as London although it had its challenges, the main one being the steep climb up to reach the Plats. Donkeys with panniers were used to ferry produce, often early flowers or the Branscombe Potato, down the steep slope for onward transport. Its position had benefits too though because many of the gardeners were also fishermen so they could work the land whilst keeping an eye on the sea.
The last market gardener left his plot in the 1960’s and since then, nature has reclaimed the land, but it still makes an interesting area to explore, following a path that winds in and out and up and down through the trees.
When the rain let up, I continued my climb to the top of the cliff, pausing to take a last look back down into the valley.
I continued along the now level clifftop in sunshine for a time but sadly not for long as once again, heavy rain began to fall. I put on waterproofs and passed a couple who had the opposite idea; they removed clothing and were walking in the minimum, he in just shorts and she in just shorts and a skimpy top. We stopped and chatted for a time and they told me that they hadn’t come prepared for rain! Well I guess if you are going to get wet, you may as well keep some of your clothes dry 🙂 !
I reached Salcombe Mouth and once again took a detour inland because I was intending to stay the night near Salcombe Regis. Fortunately the rain again stopped so when I reached my campsite, I was able to put the tent up in the dry, and of course I was able to ‘cook’ my meal outside my tent without getting rained on – I say ‘cook’ but I use the term in the broadest sense as it was more warming up than cooking 🙂 !
It had been another awesome day’s walking despite the rain……in fact partly because of the rain as it made such a nice change from walking in the extreme heat that has been a feature of 2018.
Tomorrow would be my last day on this trip and I had mixed feelings as I was looking forward to the day whilst also wishing that the trip could go on longer. I think every walk I undertake ends with these feelings!
Thanks for stopping by!
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
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