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Sunday, 3 February 2019

South West Coast Path - Exmouth to Sidmouth

Ladram Bay

A pleasant and not too challenging 16 miles ramble along the South West Coast Path between Exmouth and Salcombe Regis

This route is a great introduction to the South West Coast path with all the amazing panoramas, cliff top views and a few challenging ascents and descents. But nothing too demanding. This walk uses the Salcombe Regis campsite as its base location but the walk can simply be terminated at Sidmouth.

This was the first stage of a 10 day walking expedition along the Jurassic Coast section of the South West Coast Footpath between Exmouth and Poole. It is a great part of this long distance trail and if this is ones first visit then, like us, the lure of the fantastic scenery and amazing paths seduced us back in the following years to continue to walk of the whole SWCP trail.

This particular walk was undertaken on the day of arrival which resulted in limited time to undertake it due to having to arrive on site and pitch the tent. However, performing this during the mid summer provides ample evening light to complete the distance. The arrival at the Salcombe Regis campsite was a revelation in itself. Located at the head of the valley leading down to Salcombe Mouth and with views of the deep blue sea beyond and the sloping hillsides full of small fields of pasture intermingled with woodland. A fantastic view that makes one just want to submerge oneself into the landscape. And it was peaceful. Very quiet with few tourists on the campsite and just a distant sounds of donkeys at the nearby donkey sanctuary. I am sure one could scream here and nobody would hear you, you voice would just melt into this idyllic landscape.

Luck was on our side for this walk. There was a bus operated by Stagecoach which linked Sidford, some 15 minutes walk from the site, with Exmouth and the start of the walk. Unfortunately this 157 service no longer appears to serve Sidford and one must continue down into Sidmouth to catch the same bus.

The South West Coast Path is a naturally start end point at Exmouth with the river Exe forming a natural boundary where a ferry connects to the next stage at Starcross. The trail then continues from the ferry and follows the estuary along the Exmouth seafront. It is easy to find as one just has to head to the beach and start walking, following the esplanade all the way along the edge of town where there are a flight of zig-zagging steps to get to the top of the cliffs for the real walk onward.

This section of coastline is a popular tourist destination and there are numerous holiday camps and caravan parks that dot the cliff tops. Despite this, the area is dominated by open fields and rolling countryside with fantastic coastal views as the path heads up to West Down Beacon at 129m. There is then a steady descent down to the town of Budleigh Salterton and a chance to find refreshment. Cliff Road leads from the beach to the main thoroughfare through town and at the junction is the Feathers Hotel. This was a pure chance discovery as are most of the pubs and inns frequented on this site. This was a good choice as there were four local ales on offer and a welcoming host and a drink to toast the start of what was looking like a grand expedition.

Beyond Budleigh Salterton the path has to head inland to negotiate a route around the Otter Estuary Nature Reserve. This is the River Otter and not an otter nature reserve. I think that if you are an otter enthusiast then you would be sorely disappointed with the distinct lack of the semi-aquatic carnivorous mammals. The path follows a 1.5 mile excursion around the marsh and wetland of the estuary before the trails heads back along the cliffs once again.

There is an amble across to Ladram Bay where one encounters the impressive sandstone sea-stacks, weathered and eroded. The views of these island stacks cant fail to amaze and it is well worth taking some time out to gaze and admire and capture a little essence in a photo The trail descends down to the beach road before making a slow steady ascent of the imposing wood covered hill beyond. The going gets more challenging before the summit is reached. This is High Peak and at 157m is the highest point along this short section of the trail. This climb takes a little effort but is well worth it for the view. The eastern side is a slow descent that takes the coast path into Sidmouth.

On this occasion, it was early evening by the time we reached Sidmouth, sometime around 7pm. The town was busy, not full of tourists but a lot of locals since the FA World Cup was in progress and England's National Team were taking on the lowly Algeria in the evening game. After finding a chip shop to feast on what must be one of the nations favourite meals, it only seemed right that we should endorse our patriotic rite and frequent a hostelry to catch the impending game. Expectations were high that England would show their metal and commanding experience and professionalism and demolish this lowly upstart to the sport. A seafront bar was located that was openly advertising the game. The Marine appeared to be one of those tourist enticing bars that left expectations of lots of fizzy beer and loud-mouthed youth but on entering we was pleasantly surprised. Two cask ales were being served on tap, and a few seats available amid the mild mannered audience. It has to be said that the bar was more like an electrical showroom with the number of TV screens that decorated the walls and I was unsure whether this was specific to this event or whether it was the norm. Unfortunately the game was a complete let down. The 0-0 scoreline said it all with the England layers ambling along like they were on a Sunday walk in the park. Their passing was abysmal and their play unenthusiastic and slow-footed. Having said that the Algerian team must have been delighted with their performance in keeping England contained.

Disappointed with the result we left the pub at 9.30 and photographed a public convenience sign. It said it all. By this time the light had stated to fade and it was going to be a challenge in getting up to the campsite as the route negotiated various pieces of woodland. The first hill of trees to the east of the town heads up to the cliff tops and this soon demonstrated the lack of light. Torches were of assistance but nothing is anywhere near as good as daylight. Nonetheless taking ones time arrival at base camp was completed and the end came to what had been a fantastic day.

NOTE

This is a walk summary intended to provide the user with just the essential information in order to navigate the walk route. Fully detailed information notes, refreshment stops and walk features are not included in this. A full write up will be included in the near future.

South West Coast Path - Exmouth to Salcombe Regis - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Exmouth Bus Station View in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Salcombe Regis Camp Site View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
16 miles
Walk difficulty
moderate
Terrain
Moderate cliff top walking with not too challenging assents and descents
Obstacles

Maps:

The following maps and services can assist in navigating this route. The links include published hard copy as well as online plots and downloadable GPX route data for importing into navigational software and apps.

Ordnance Survey Explorer Map
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Online Google Route
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ViewRanger App Route
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GPX data for route (download)

Accommodation:

Salcombe Regis CampsiteView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Website
Description
Situated at the head of the valley going down to Salcombe Mouth with some excellent views.

Transport:

Details of public transport that is required for the walk

Traveline - Bus Service
Service Details
At the time of walking the 157 Stagecoach service from Sidmouth to Exmouth went via Sidford. This no longer appears to be the case although there is a seasonal shuttle service between the campsite and Sidmouth. For the latest details of services and operators see the Traveline website
Timetable

Walk Data

Date of Walk
2010-06-18
Walk Time
13:00 to 22:30
Walkers
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Bright sunshine with some high cloud and very warm

  1 comment:

  1. I did this with a mad German Shepherd who was about to not go off the cliff in any way in the strong wind we met

    ReplyDelete

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Latest walk summaries are basic information sheets for walks that have yet to be fully documented. These provide links to maps, public transport and walks stats, although detailed notes and features are not included.

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