A cheery breakfast prepared us well for the dampness outside.
Waves crashed against the breakwater, denying us the low level route to Dawlish. Bloated from last night’s biryanis
[“The curry sauce wasn’t hot enough” Andrew and I replied to the plump Indian chef in response to his polite enquiry.
Chef looks quizzically at our empty plates…
“Nobody ever finishes our biryanis! What are you complaining about?”
Andrew and I look down, slackening our belts.]
we heaved sweatily up to around 90 metres to meet the main A379 road. I could swear I heard Andrew muttering under his breath…
“….feel like …. Chinese wrestler’s … jock strap … cooked in chip fat on a greasy day ….”
….then down steep fields with a fine view of the coastal railway to Dawlish, where a very fit looking elderly lady runner shot past us, travelling much faster uphill than we were descending.
Dawlish had a nice sea wall. Until its pathway dropped a couple of metres into the seething breakers, forcing us back up to the A379, which was taking its toll on Andrew’s overloaded feet.
We made it to Dawlish Warren. The drizzle had ceased but it was hugely humid. The cafés were all shut. It’s ‘out of season’. We left town to the constant clack on tarmac of Andrew’s walking poles. Suddenly a café appeared before us. Cappuccino and a jammy doughnut for me, black coffee for Andrew, still depressed after City’s failure to put away the opposition last night.
Refreshed, we plodded on to Starcross, where a summer ferry to Exmouth still appeared to be operating. This would be our continuation of the coast path. Next year. A choice presented itself. Bus, train, or continue walking? Andrew, his poor feet reeking with fatigue, and unable to hobble across the road to the railway station, slumped next to the bus stop, and waited patiently for the next Stagecoach. His perambulations, for now, were at an end.
It was early (12.15) and I was sure the path would improve. The weather was fine and warm, the terrain flat. I carried on past a ghetto of lone stags, all sitting patiently, possibly dreaming of their harem, or plotting how to attain the affections of the hinds that were grouped in a large gaggle some 200 metres away.
I was inland now, next to the Exe estuary, with a shy heron, little egrets, curlew, cormorants and a plethora of gulls for company.
The hostelry at Turf, where the Exeter Ship Canal starts, looked very quiet. I lunched nearby, on a bench erected
In loving memory of Michael Boothby 1932 – 2006
Loved & worked on the canal
from which the above photo was taken.
A pleasant tow path then led to the Topsham Ferry, which I don’t think was working, at a point where the South West Coast Path heads over the ferry and the path I was on mutates into the Exe Valley Way. I followed neither, turning instead into the Exminster Marshes Nature Reserve, where I surprised some men with a digger who told me they were de-marshing the footpath through the Reserve.
Over the railway bridge to the Swans Nest Roundabout, where a mobile texting system informed me that the next bus to Exeter would be in 20 minutes. It did eventually appear, just behind the following bus that was a further 20 minutes behind, but on time. Perhaps I should have walked right in to Exeter.
Anyway, I was soon reunited with Andrew, then via a jolly taxi ride with our car, before a 5 hour drive through intermittent rain but quiet traffic to end this little excursion.
There will be a summary, with stats (especially for Alan), and a short slide show if I can distil sufficient images from those taken in the rather gloomy conditions.