Thursday, 2 April 2009

Coastwalk , South West Coast Path

Salcombe → Torcross


Distance: 12.7 miles
Ascent: 633 metres
Duration: 4 hours 35 minutes

The last day of summer
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Packing for this week in Devon was easy: fleeces, waterproofs, woolly hats. I've mixed feelings about the fact that we got this all wrong. It's been great to be out in glorious weather, but today's walk without sun hats or sun block has resulted in pink necks and pink arms, and meant we ran out of water with two miles still to walk. The cynics would call today the first and last day of summer.

We parked the car at the end of the walk, then took two buses to the start. Salcombe's a pleasant small town and on the ferry across the harbour to East Portlemouth it reminded us very strongly of Fowey.

The walk itself can be split into three sections: the first heading south from the ferry landing stage to Prawle Point (the most southerly in Devon) was a typical rollercoaster: up and over one headland after another. Our guide book feigned ignorance as to the derivation of the name of one headland - "Pig's Nose" - but looking back at it from the east its profile was unmistakably evocative.

The second section of the walk - east from Prawle Point to Start Point - came as welcome relief. Once we'd dropped down from Prawle Point the going was level and easy almost all the way. Start Point itself had been visible from Prawle Point, but as we passed Sleadon Rocks, the first glimpse of the lighthouse was breathtaking. We were able to see the lighthouse from where we'd parked in Torcross so it was a signal that the walk was nearly over.

We didn't actually walk the cul-de-sac down to the light, choosing instead to strike on north for the final leg. (After all by this point we'd run out of water.)


And this is the leg I've been looking forwards to for a long time now. Back in 2005 the second episode of the first series of the BBC's Coast programme told the story of Hallsands, a village washed away supposedly as a result of thoughtless dredging practices. There's little to see here now, even from the viewing platform erected for the tourists. Sadly this is one place best viewed from the television.

In the new Hallsands village - as well as its neighbour Beesands - those cottages which are not already holiday homes appear to be in the process of conversion. Our hopes of finding a small shop or pub for refreshment were dashed when we realised that these villages are dying a different death to old Hallsands.

Posted by pab at 22:44 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!