The Jurassic Coast

28th September 2018

A much cooler morning for our walk from Lyme Regis to Seatown, probably more comfortable for walking though.  Parked up in Lyme and set off to face that big hill out of town!


Leaving Lyme Regis

Due to recent landslips in this part of the magnificent Jurassic coastline there was a coastal path diversion that took us through steep hilly woodland (slippy underfoot) and a fair amount of road walking too.  The diversion signs weren’t always great and caused some ‘discussion’ at times …. but we made it through to Charmouth where the diversion ended.  


We stopped for some refreshments in Charmouth and looked out over the beach where many fossil hunters were head down, busy in their search.  I hope they were successful – I have since been informed by our fossil expert Airbnb host, Paddy, that this long hot summer has seen many visiting hunters and a depletion of fossils + this spell of mild weather again is not causing the erosion required to unearth a new supply.  Paddy says that most people go home with something though.  


Charmouth Beach


Fossil hunters

The weather started to improve, the sun particularly shining in full force every time we were dragging ourselves up a hill – and we faced a few of these again today.   Quite a momentous climb out of Charmouth and the path was pretty close to the cliff edge, the nearest we’ve been on this section – stunning views as always.  



And then with 6 miles under our belt we came across the spectacle of ‘Golden Cap’ – at least it gave us an honest view of what we were about to face … and we knew that we had only a few miles left.  So up we went … and up and up … stopping for a couple of bench and jelly baby breaks on the way.  And then we had the pleasurable long stroll down into the coastal hamlet of Seatown – our destination for today.  


Golden Cap awaits us


Nearing the top – the final jelly baby stop!


The stroll down into Seatown

We still then however had to walk a mile up the road to Chideock to catch a bus back to Lyme Regis.  Great bus though – The Jurassic Coaster – the X53 – plush seating with tables and even mobile and laptop charging points!!  

And we’ve now checked into a fabulous Airbnb in Silver Street, a cosy self-contained room, with cooking facilities and en-suite – just the job.  The only drawback is iffy wifi connection … so it might take a little while before I get this published!  


Walking into my home county of Dorset

Thursday 27th September 2018

We set out from our Airbnb in Seaton having received some local advice from our lovely host Anna.  Today’s walk was from Seaton to Lyme Regis and Anna had advised us that there was an initial climb but from thereon an enjoyable walk.  The Coastal Path guide had indicated a moderate walk so our screaming muscles from yesterday breathed a sigh of relief.  It was half the distance too.  Luxury.


Eager to start our ‘moderate’ walk from Seaton to Lyme Regis


Seaton beach

And the advice we had received turned out to be fairly accurate.  Still enough hills, steps and uneven terrain to make it interesting but, particularly in contrast to yesterday, it felt manageable.  Due to coastal landslides in this area, the path actually took us through woodland for most of the day, with occasional glimpses of the sea.  Following yesterday’s clonk on the head, an alteration to our observation techniques were required.  We now have learnt to apply up and down scanning simultaneously – looking out for protruding tree roots as well as those low hanging ‘out to get you’ branches!  No further head grazes today!  It was a pretty walk through rich vegetation, quite wet underfoot at times but we did miss having the sea views.


We had occasional glimpses of the sea


Lots of funghi spotted


A mile or so outside of Lyme Regis, a local person had very kindly left a basket of home-grown apples hanging from the Coast Path sign.  So, naturally we helped ourselves to one and they were delicious.  Just a little way on I noticed a old lady in a long skirt lurking in the woods above us – I began to imagine a Snow White scenario … but I kept on munching and lived to tell the tale!

There were a fair few people out on the path again today, all enjoying the sunshine I guess.  We had a bit of a Tortoise and the Hare situation with a group of 3 young Eastern European chaps – they overtook us when we’d stopped for a rest and then we caught them up but stopped so they could carry on ahead.  Then we caught them up again and overtook them this time, while they were resting ….  and we didn’t see them again.  They were however carrying quite sizeable rucksacks but nevertheless it was still a clear win for the ‘oldies.’

So we completed the walk in 3 and a half hours and were able to enjoy some time in Lyme Regis – love this town …. and of course this is where the path enters my home county of Dorset.  Known as the Pearl of Dorset, Lyme Regis is famous for its Cobb and harbour as well as the literary connections – French Lieutenant’s Woman and Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion.’


At the end of the Cobb         “Oi Meryl, lend me your cape!”




Love the town of Lyme Regis in Dorset – I’m on my way to Weymouth!

So spent a relaxing couple of hours lounging on the beach – tried to picnic on sandwiches but were swooped on from all sides by pesky seagulls – Steve won the battle but I gave up on mine!  Had a lovely paddle and would loved to have swum, maybe tomorrow.


Steve’s most favourite position of all

Finished the afternoon with a scrumptious ice-cream (shielded from the ever-hungry seagulls) before a climb up an incredibly steep hill to the bus stop – beautiful ride back to Seaton.

A great day.  Planning a visit to a micro-pub now to round things off!

Back to Beer …

As coastal path walks go, today was TOUGH.  We walked from Sidmouth to Seaton – about 12 miles in total … but what a 12 miles!!  When we had finished I looked at the guide and it said challenging /severe – strenuous – that was pretty accurate.  But we had another glorious day weather-wise and were truly rewarded with the scenery on this magnificent stretch of coastline.  The colours were so vivid against the backdrops of the pretty seaside towns that it felt like being on the continent – we have been incredibly lucky.


Leaving Sidmouth – facing the first of MANY hills






But seriously the hills today were something else – huge climbs and hundreds of steps going up and going down – sometimes it takes all your will to carry on.  I wish they could be kinder in their step design too – sometimes there’s such a drop that I fear my knee won’t take the impact on landing!


Stairway to heaven …




Always another hill to face

Today’s funny incident:  we came to the rescue of some nervous walkers who had ground to a halt as there were cows on the path.  They had heard stories of people being killed by cows, especially when there were calves amongst them, which there were.  Steve stepped up the mark and shooed the cows off the path and so clearing the way – I was so proud of him, even though I was cowering (do you get that?) at his side.



After 3 hours of torturous walking we managed to stop for a bite to eat at ‘The Sea Shanty Cafe’ in Branscombe – overlooking the beautiful beach.  Only a quick stop though as we had to get on, not quite knowing how long today’s trek was going to take.  While we ate lunch we couldn’t help but glance up at the monumental hill in front of us.


Lunching beside Branscombe Beach

So replenished, we made our way up and up once again, facing some tricky paths through woodland.  I heard a cry out from up ahead as Steve managed to walk into an overhanging tree branch – both head and pride wounded …. there had been no warning that a low hanging branch would be there!!


We soldiered on and next found ourselves walking into the historical fishing village of Beer.  Now, there is some history here for me …. the last time I was here was many moons ago.  I had been at a Girl Guide Camp in Dartmoor and the day we were leaving I was taken ill – we were never quite sure whether it was the mouldy jam sandwiches or overdoing the roundabout and swing activities in the park (maybe a combination of both!) – but I was not fit to travel on the coach home with the others.  So I was taken to the Mum’s house of our Guide Captain who lived in Beer – a name I never forgot.  Funny that, how my past should be connected to an alcoholic beverage!


Walking into Beer

Then after more hills and the final stretch of walking on pebbles we arrived in Sunny Seaton, where we rewarded ourselves with lashings of tea.


We walked the length of this beach on the sloping pebbles!


Beautifully sunny Seaton

So one of the harder days today – but hard to resist more when you see such beauty.  Now recovering with tea and chocolate – this is the life!!




A day for closure …

25th September 2018

A short walk had been planned for today but … best laid plans and all that … turned out to be quite a bit longer due to closures.

We parked up in Sidmouth and caught a bus back to our start at Budleigh Salterton.  However, there were road closures and the bus had to drop us off 3 miles out of the town – so we had these extra miles tagged onto the day’s trek.  A pleasant walk into town though, at this stage we were full of positivity – the sun was shining, the sky was blue – what’s an extra 3 miles – it’s just a Parkrun!!

Stopped to have a bite to eat in town and then headed off to find the coastal path – but hey ho another closure – this time the coastal path had been closed due to environmental studies … so an alternative route had been provided causing us at least another 2 miles add on!!  It just wasn’t our day … but we just laughed it off and put our best foot forward.


Leaving the pretty seaside town of Budleigh Salterton



Looking back over Budleigh Salterton once we finally got onto the coastal path

It actually was an enjoyable walk – coastal views to die for, stunning countryside for miles, some pretty woodland stretches – plenty of ‘Sound of Music’ rolling hills but we mostly seemed to skirt around the bottom of them which was such a treat.  There were more walkers than usual  on the path today and I suggested that perhaps this was because this section didn’t seem too stretching.  And we actually laughed about ‘talking too soon!’




We seriously thought that we were nearing Sidmouth when, out of the blue, they stuck not one but two whopping great hills in our way, no kindly path around, just straight to the top …. you know, the ones where you look up and it seems to be leading into the clouds.  Even after the 8 or so miles we’d done, Steve still chooses to get up these slopes at breakneck speed, just to get it over and done with.  Unfortunately, my legs and lungs guide me to a slower pace … but at the same time I’m no slouch!  I use differing techniques to get me up there … look at the ground, look up, chest open to aid breathing, swing my arms, sing songs, dream of being at the top!!  I usually look up to see Steve’s wiggling bottom getting further and further away … and it entices me on!!

Anyway, we finally conquered all that the path required and found ourselves enjoying a long downhill stroll into another gorgeous seaside town – Sidmouth.


Walking into Sidmouth


Sidmouth seafront

So, on my subject theme of ‘closures’ …. was today ‘Closure’ for me in terms of a pathological fear I suffer with?  Yes, snakes!!  Today I saw my first UK snake – it slithered across my path with gay abandon.  I think it was a grass snake but I’m no expert.  So that’s my 3rd snake in total – a water snake in Thailand, a Whip snake in Tasmania and now today.  And all they do is just slither away as people say!  So maybe I’m feeling cured …. well, let’s see.

Memory ‘lanes’…

24th September 2018

We decided to take a day off coastal walking today and have a little explore of this beautiful area we find ourselves in.  Dartmoor National Park is on our doorstep so after a few little ‘housekeeping chores’ and an interesting viewing of Val’s workshop, we headed off in the car.


First stop – the pretty town of Ashburton

From Ashburton we drove to Buckfast Abbey and this was an amazing trip down memory lane for me as I used to sing in the Abbey each year with my School Choir.  I can remember those coach trips down being fiercely guarded at all times by the nuns and having to be on our best behaviour representing our school – and having to sing perfectly too.   I so clearly remembered the stunning stained glass window at the rear of the abbey – it was just as remarkable as my childhood memory recalled.


Buckfast Abbey

From there we drove across the moors – following signposted instructions to be ‘moor careful’ due to animals crossing.  Fabulously scenic with the rolling heathland and the sheep, cows and ponies ambling around and yes, crossing the roads at their will … we even came across another peacock crossing our path.


We then found an outward bound centre that Steve had visited some forty years ago.  When he was a young chap in his early twenties he worked for Thomson local newspapers and somehow got selected to accompany a group of young ‘newspaper boys’ on an incentive week.  So he was delighted to find the place and recall memories of the high ropes, canoeing, swimming, pot-holing, abseiling and bridge jumping activities that he and the boys were subjected to.  We had a beautiful walk through the woodland there and enjoyed a picnic in the grounds.



Just can’t imagine ‘risk assessments’ allowing you to encourage children to jump off this bridge into the river anymore!


And onward from there we managed to find ourselves down some extremely narrow country lanes.  I love this rustic life but getting from place to place can be quite daunting.  The GPS insists on taking us along the narrowest and hedge-scraping of roads.  Sometimes it’s like you’re tunnelling through undergrowth – God knows what you do if you meet an oncoming car – there certainly must be some horrendous stand-offs.  But somehow it all seems to work and, despite keeping my eyes closed and clinging onto to everything around me, I survived!

Stopped for afternoon tea at Widecombe-on-the-Moor then home to our lovely Airbnb for our last night here.  And, while we’d been busy out touring the countryside, Val had been busy in her workshop making me the most fabulous necklace, which I will be saving to wear at my niece’s wedding in February.


My beautiful new necklace cleverly crafted by Val Wilkie

All in all, a fabulous day in this absolutely beautiful part of the country.  I have a strong suspicion we will return to these parts many times.



The red cliffs of South Devon

23rd September 2018

Today we started our walk from Exmouth.  We declined to take the ferry from Starcross to Exmouth on the grounds that today’s weather was forecast to be atrocious – imagining a choppy crossing we wisely chose to drive around to our starting point instead.  On leaving the car I was fully kitted out with thermals, waterproofs, gloves, hat and a neckscarf – it was bitter but I was ready for whatever it threw at me!!

Our first little funny sighting was a seagull proudly flying in with his catch – a starfish – which he proceeded to play with on the sea wall.  Simple amusements!


The first part of the walk was truly pleasurable, lots of promenade walking and, being a Sunday, it was great to see so many people about.  And, by the time we’d reached the end of Exmouth seafront, the sun was out in full force.  So, the layers started to be removed – after all those warnings, it was a magnificent day!  We even stopped for ice-cream.


Exmouth beach

At Orcombe Red Rocks we joined the Jurassic Coastline with its striking red cliffs.  Google tells me that these were formed in a baking desert some 240 million years ago.  Note to self:  must learn more about these geological periods and dinosaurs etc. – need to seek tuition from the younger members of the family!



Love this photo – vibrant red cliffs in the foreground and the white Dorset cliffs in the background (I’m getting near my hometown) x

Nothing too adventurous happened today – just a pleasant walk – beaches, hills, fields, woodland, through holiday parks (the coastal path even took us right through a beer garden).  We had blue skies most of the day with a crisp autumnal feel.  Absolutely loved it – can recommend this walk from Exmouth, passing through Sandy Bay and into the pretty coastal town of Budleigh Salterton.  By the end of the trek we were down to T-shirts and carrying all the excess layers.  So pleased we didn’t get frightened off by those weather forecasters.


Budleigh Salterton


Wet, wet, wet …. but fabulously flat (mostly)

Saturday 22nd September 2018

What a difference a day makes!  Yesterday blue skies, today grey, miserable and cold – and an abundance of rain.

Nevertheless, we were up and out early to drive to Exeter for the Parkrun.  All eager to stretch out our weary legs after yesterday’s re-introduction to coastal hill walking.  However, on arrival at the start point and waiting in the driving cold rain, I felt a desperate need to use the toilet, deciding I would not manage a 5k run without a ‘visit.’  So off I jogged & walked to the nearest public conveniences, having to cross over to the other side of the quay, a fair trek.  Devastatingly, by the time I got back, the run had started without me – oh well, there’s always next week.  Steve, despite knee problems, completed another tourism Parkrun.

We planned a reverse day today, so parked up at Teignmouth station and caught the train to Starcross from where we walked back through Dawlish Warren, Dawlish and Holcombe into Teignmouth.

We had yet to eat, so after our train journey, we ventured out onto the streets of Starcross to look for a bacon butty – alas, not a cafe in sight.  It was almost 2 miles of trudging along a busy road (strange coastal path) before we stumbled across a bakery with extremely tasty offerings.  The rain had been chucking it down and deep puddles  formed in the roadside gutters.  As cars sped past us we were engulfed in tidal waves, only adding to our misery.  Steve (in true Victor Meldrew style) was adamant that they were doing it on purpose!   So it was with great delight that we found temporary refuge in the warm bakery and tucked into some hearty fayre.


Not the most pleasant of days!


Steve’s breakfast – called a “Gut Buster”


As we sat and ate breakfast, a peacock strolled across the road … why did the peacock cross the road!!??

The coastal path finally took us to the ‘actual coast’ just past Dawlish – the sea was now in sight.  In fact, from there for the rest of the walk we found ourselves walking on the sea wall.  And boy, was there a drop at the side … and no railings.  I made sure I tucked myself well into the inside wall and Steve gallantly walked by my side.  The wall was wide at parts and more narrow at others, but you just had to focus on the task in hand.  I had to stop thinking about those “batten down your hatches” forecasts that had been flying around and just keep going.  As waves leapt over the sea wall it was also getting pretty wet under foot, in fact in places we were wading through water – so soggy feet and socks it was for the rest of the journey.

And literally six foot to our right, trains were whizzing by at great speeds – quite spectacular.  It was in Dawlish a few years back that the sea wall and train track collapsed during winter storms – luckily today it all held together!



Ambling along beside high speed inter-city trains – beautiful red sandstone cliffs on the right.

Between Dawlish and Teignmouth we did have to tackle a couple of sizeable hills – we were never going to get off scot-free the whole day!  Gave us something else to grumble about!!


And finally two little drowned rats reached Teignmouth – just about 8 miles in 3 and a half hours.


Steve’s summary of the day …. “well as Coastal Walks go, not the most spectacular of days!”

But tomorrow, you know it, we’ll be back for more!

We’re back on the path …

Last year we didn’t get to finish the glorious South West Coastal Path so here we are on it again … and so also, back to blogging.

We did a little bit of the Wales coastal path earlier in the year but other than that we’ve had quite a gap – sorting out some family matters, enjoying the extraordinary summer sunshine and also, setting the house and ourselves up for airbnb guests.  All that sorted, we’re now ready to hit the open road again.  And this time around we’re squeezing in 9 days of walking before another little overseas trip – we plan to get as far as Abbotsbury in Dorset which means we will have to return to complete the path at a later date.

Yesterday we drove down from Milton Keynes in howling winds and rain, reaching our destination in Bishopsteignton in just over 3 and a half hours.  We have checked into the most homely airbnb in this picturesque village and will be here for 5 nights with our fabulous hosts Val and Elaine.  We couldn’t possibly feel more at home.  We were welcomed with tea and homemade cakes and a lovely chat.  They are two extremely creative ladies, and they disappear into their craft rooms where marvellous items evolve – pottery, glasswork, jewellery and quilting – the most wonderful exhibits are displayed around the house.

After a perfect night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast spread, lovingly laid out by Val, we drove into Teignmouth and parked up.  From here we caught the bus to Babbacombe which is the point we reached last year.  We love it on the Downs there, so much so that we stopped for coffee before starting on today’s trek – some might call it delaying tactics!!


Our start of the day coffee stop! This easier approach is definitely the way to go!


Off we go again!


Beautiful Oddicombe Beach

So, walking boots and socks comfortably placed, walking pole in hand, wee rucksack sorted with water, waterproofs, hats, plasters, mints …. all the essentials …  off we eagerly set.  It seemed funny to be looking out for those acorn coastal path signs again.  It wasn’t long before we started facing some pretty steep ascents and descents, just as the guide had promised.  We had stunning sea views most of the way though and the weather was beautiful – bright and breezy.  Maybe a little more than breezy at points – nearly got windswept down one particular hill – had to hang on to Steve’s hand to save us both flying away!


We just love hills!! And Steve is always miles ahead of me!!

Along the route today the paths were frequently lined with blueberry and blackberry bushes, as well as something of the ‘red berry’ variety which we don’t quite know the name of.  And with today’s winds there was plenty of windfall – so  we found ourselves magically walking along a trail of colourful sweet beads of colour – blue, red and black.


Blueberries everywhere

There were several places today that offered an ‘alternative route’ to the coastal path and we just knew that alternative would be flatter.  But could we take those alternatives?  Oh no!!  Must be the catholic in me!!  So tempting though, knowing you would end up in exactly the same place.  We might have missed some of the spectacular views however.



A house with a view


We’ve cut our daily walking schedule right down this year so it was just over 3 hours of walking, covering 7 miles and we sauntered down through woodland into the pretty village of Shaldon.  Stopped off for some lunch at the Clipper Cafe (definitely recommend) before making our way to the ferry for a ‘choppy’ crossing over to Teignmouth.  As we disembarked, the ferryman indicated that this would be the last crossing of the day due to the high winds brewing – phew!!


Shaldon in the foreground and Teignmouth across the water

This easier approach to our walking day meant that we had plenty of spare time to explore Teignmouth in the afternoon – gorgeous town centre, interesting shops and cafes – we had a sunny stroll along the esplanade and visited the local museum too.


The ferry from Shaldon


Getting off the ferry in Teignmouth – getting choppy


So an amazing first day back on the path.  Steve happily settling into his grumbling about the mileage signs and his Strava not registering … oh happy days.