Walk #323: Dawlish to Torquay
Map of the walk
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format. For a detailed table of timings for this walk, please see the table file.
I was out walking for a long time today, and when I finished and worked out how far I had walked I was annoyed that it was not farther. I seem to have spent a long time walking for a relatively little distance completed, an average of about two miles an hour, which is under what I normally achieve. I cannot really explain why this is, and I was very much hoping that I may have got further.
Walking through Teignmouth and Shaldon bought back many memories of school day holidays in the area when I was a child. Sam met me at the Teignmouth side of the Shaldon Bridge and we walked over it together towards Shaldon. The bridge has recently been widened to give pedestrians wider pavements, which rather spoiled the effect; I remember the bridge for being exceedingly narrow and that effect has now been understandably spoilt. When we got into Shaldon we walked the roads along the seafront until we got to the Clipper Cafe, where for tradition's sake we went in and I had a rock cake and strawberry milkshake - my staple diet from the cafe when I as a child. I tried to introduce Sam to the joys of rocks cakes, but I think she is yet to be convinced.
Shaldon and Teignmouth have not really changed much in the ten years since I last got to stroll around them - I have been to Devon since then, but never to walk around the towns - and the only real major difference is that Teignmouth now stretches up Haldon Hill more. The pier was still the same tacky place where we used to occasionally go and put money into the games machines; high speed trains (albeit in different liveries) still run the gauntlet of the waves along the seawall, and the black and white ferry still chugs along between the two places. So much has remained the same, and this was a great relief to me.
The walk south from Shaldon was quite hard - the initial climb up the red sandstone bluff of The Ness was rewarded by some great views northwards, but this was followed by a series of climbs and descents that I found highly annoying. For much of the time great views were not available, and when they were there were trees in the way that made taking photographs hard. The intervening village of Maidencombe was passed yet not really entered; I only saw the car park, which was slightly annoying as the village is supposed to be lovely.
I had arranged to meet Sam in Babbacombe, but when I got there I forgot all about this and continued walking, as I had made Torquay my mental target. As I was walking under cliffs my mobile did not have any reception, and when Sam phoned up she was justifiably annoyed to see that I had walked on. We rearranged the meeting place to be in the centre of Torquay, and I had to hurry slightly as the campsite we were staying at shut its doors at five. Eventually I met up with Sam, who had parked on the road beside the promenade a little way beyond the harbour, and after apologising to her for my mistake we got to the campsite in plenty of time.
Whilst looking at my itinerary tonight I realised that I have made a big mistake. When I was initially planning this walk I was going to be using ferries, and worked out the distance accordingly. When I then decided to walk up the estuaries to the nearest bridges I re-measured the relevant sections, but unfortunately it looks as though I missed out all the rivers on this Ordnance Survey map. There are a few of the rivers that are not important as they are short, but the Dart estuary will involve a long, two-day detour from Kingswear to Totnes and then back to Dartmouth. This will not be on my schedule, and whilst it will increase my overall distance it will also use up most of the days that I was ahead of schedule - days that were hard won. To make matters worse it looks as though the route around the river will mostly be along roads, which will be hard on my feet in the new boots.
The exception to the above is the section between Teignmouth and Shaldon, which is done by ferry in the Ordnance Survey guide. A route along roads to the Shaldon Bridge is described in the South West Coast Path Association guidebook, but I just made my own way along the roads; it is relatively easy to do as it is not a great distance.
This makes a total distance of 16.0 miles, with 4026 feet of ascent and 4012 feet of descent.
We stayed at Grange Court, Grange Road, Goodrington, Paignton, Devon TQ4 7JP, telephone 01425 277661 or look at the website at www.hoburne.com. This site cost us eight pounds fifty for the night, and had some reasonable facilities, although it was nothing spectacular.
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And finally, enjoy your walking!
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