Ascent: 850 metres
Time: 6 hours including stops
Picture: before the final section to Sidmouth, with tomorrow's route obscured by low cloud beyond the small town.
After a pleasant Sunday stroll in Styal woods with Stay At Home Hazel, The Pixies and other Hangers On (see small album here), something a bit meatier seemed in order.
So yesterday I rescued Notchy from the clutches of deepest Cheshire, from where we pottered down to Exeter.
Hotel Priddle provided excellent B&B and a fine pie - the name for which opened a lively debate. Could it really have been a Shepherd's Pie, if made with beef?
Anyway, this morning Colin, the Basil Fawlty of Hotel Priddle, helpfully gave us a lift to Polsloe Bridge Station, from where a rattly train delivered us to Exmouth, our starting point for this year's section of the coast path.
[Our progress over the past couple of years can be followed by typing 'SWCP' in the search box at the top of the blog.]
We are not purists, we didn't swim across the Exe estuary, or even get a ferry. But we did start roughly opposite where we stopped or passed by last year.
The dull day and the damp following wind did little to dampen our enthusiasm, though it does seem a little odd to be walking as a twosome in September, when most of the route from Minehead has been walked as part of a large group in late May, over the last 10 to 15 years.
The mussels of Exmouth have a hard time - seabirds hovered over the road east, past Conger Rocks, dropping their mussels from heights for which the victims' shells were not designed.
Near Littleham Cove a hillside full of mobile homes overlooks a noisy army firing range. Beyond that, Budleigh Salterton lurks on the other side of a sandy hillock that's making a concentrated effort to crumble into the sea. High brambles form a 'green lane' between the cliff and a golf course.
An early lunch at A Slice of Lyme in Budleigh Salterton - excellent pannini/toasted sandwich - set us up for the afternoon.
A marshy inlet offered good reason for a nature reserve, which we were obliged to pass through as the only sensible means of navigating a narrow passage at Otterton Ledge. Egrets and cormorants vied with herring gulls and a miscellany of smaller birds for space on the sandy banks.
Despite the lateness of the season, wild flowers abound, with some of the early spring flowers such as Herb Robert and Red Campion still going strong, along with Thistles, Clovers, Mustards, Ragwort, Thrift, Yarrow and many more.
Lots of fruits are ripe for harvesting, with a fine crop of blackberries hereabouts.
There were many folk about today; the caravan parks were busy; Sidmouth's B&Bs were mostly full. It was hot and humid.
The path from Budleigh Salterton rises over a few little nobbles through pretty woodland above high cliffs on one side, with pastoral farmland and a huge pig farm on the landward side.
After a while a sharp descent dropped us past an amphitheatre of benches to Connaught Gardens, where we enjoyed tea and cake in the Clock Tower tearooms before continuing on past the Sidmouth Fiddler and into the centre of this small but perfectly formed town.
Berwick House (www.berwick-house.co.uk), was soon discovered. Sue and David are our hosts, and they recommended the Swan Inn, a quintessential English pub. My meal was excellent; Notchy's only complaint about his liver and bacon was that there was too much!
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