Yesterday my walk ended in the rain. Today, the clouds are still low and ominous when I look back eastwards towards Bolt Tail and, beyond that, I can just make out Bolt Head.
What a difference a new day makes. No rain. Morning light. A good night’s rest.
The South West Coast Path follows the top of the slope, but I have chosen to walk along the alternative route, down by the sea.
I walk down to Stoke beach, passing through a private holiday camp where static caravans are parked on green slopes amid trees. There is nobody about in November, apart from a few men making repairs to some buildings on the site.
I walk past the remains of an old church – The Church of St Peter the Poor Fisherman. I am tempted to go in, but the church looks shut and, in any case, I am keen to get on with my walk today.
I walk through a wooded area and then onto open slopes, overlooking the sea. After yesterday’s slog along roads, I am really pleased to be back on the coastline today.
Looking down on the seascape I feel full of joy and energy- with a renewed sense of purpose. This is why I’m walking the coast. I revel in the fresh air, the open space, the breeze, the light.
Soon I am back on the coastal path. I pass the area where a track leads up to the official Stoke Beach car park. That is where I waited yesterday, while my husband went to find our ‘stolen’ car. Today he is joining me again, having parked in Newton Ferrers. I expect to see him walking along to meet me at some point.
But cattle still frighten me. Particularly frisky bullocks.
Are they bullocks?
They look large enough to be full-grown bulls. Luckily they are separated from me by a fence and, in any case, they don’t show any interest in my progress.
The path is easy-going, undulating over the gentle curves of this section of the coast. We have had one of the wettest summers on record and Devon has been badly hit. Not surprisingly, therefore, there is plenty of mud on the path.
I meet my husband and we walk together towards Gara Point, heading for Noss Mayo. On the way, we pass a wonderful cottage, set in the middle of nowhere. What incredible views over the sea! Later I learn this is Warren Cottage and a Grade II listed building, used as a summer-house by Lord Revelstoke and, supposedly, the place where he entertained King Edward VII.
From here the South West Coast Path passes in front of Warren Cottage and continues onwards as a wide grassy strip. This is “Revelstoke Drive”, another feature constructed by Lord Revelstoke as a carriageway to transport his guests from Noss Mayo to the summer-house – and continuing further eastwards, past Stoke Beach, all the way to Beacon Hill. (Beacon Hill was where we met the bullocks yesterday.)
I can just imagine the carriages rattling along “Revelstoke Drive” at a fast pace, wowing the Lord’s guests with his amazing sea views. It makes a wonderfully, easy walking route.
Ahead is the promontory of Gara Point and Mouthstone Point, guarding the mouth of Plymouth Sound. The island we can see is the Great Mew Stone and, beyond that, we must be looking at the coast of Cornwall.
Yes, we are nearly in Cornwall! I seem to have been walking through Devon for an eternity. It has been beautiful, but I am looking forward to passing over the county border, and into Cornwall.
For the past five months of intermittent walking, I have been using the Torbay and South Dartmoor OS Landranger Map. This map covers around 100 miles of coastline, which stretches along two sides of the paper due to the configuration of this part of the coast. It has taken me from Teignmouth to this point – Stoke Beach. A huge distance. By the time I finish my walk today, I will have moved onto the Plymouth and Launceston Landranger Map.
Changing maps is always an exciting milestone.
Here is another incredible milestone. Today I will have passed the 1,000 mile mark on my walk.
We round the promontory and the path begins heading down and into the outskirts of Noss Mayo. We begin to see residential houses.
The landscape becomes wooded. The path is now a track and we walk through trees. Old autumn leaves still litter the ground. The weather has stayed dry and, while it is not exactly hot, neither is it cold.
I have been walking for nearly 3 hours without a break. The end of the walk is approaching. Having managed to take nearly a week’s holiday from work, I have to be back for a meeting tomorrow.
We are going to head home after lunch at Noss Mayo. But first, we pose for some photographs.
As we continue along, through the trees, we can see the water of the River Yealm and the many yachts and other ships moored here. It is a lovely place. I take a great many photographs.
There is a path that dips down, off the track, and runs along a steep slope, through the woods. It is called “Passage Wood” and is part of an extensive strip of National Trust land that runs along the coast from Stoke Point. We can’t resist the lure of a woodland walk.
We pass the place where the Yealm passenger ferry runs. The sign reflects the historic nature of this ferry crossing. Sadly, the service only runs in the summer. We had previously phoned the ferryman to see if we could book a private crossing, but he said the ferry was pulled out the water for maintenance over winter.
Over the river, we can see the slipway at Warren Point – where the ferry would take us. The South West Coast Path crosses the river at this point. So near. So far.
I had checked the map and the walking route up the estuary to the nearest bridge crossing looked very difficult. There were no proper public footpaths. Not only would the deviation around the estuary add many miles of walking – a full day’s worth, but I would be walking along roads again. Although I could get to Yealmpton along minor roads, the only way to cross the river was to walk along a section of a major A road (the A379). This road had no pedestrian pavement, nor walking verge.
Reluctantly, I had already decided it would be too dangerous to walk. The sign below confirmed this, advising South West Coast Path walkers, in the absence of the ferry, to take a taxi or a bus round to the other side of the river.
I will worry about the crossing another time. Today we enjoy the views across the river, looking over to the picturesque Newton Ferrers to the north, and have lunch in the wonderful Ship Inn.
Miles walked = 5.5