Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Branscombe to Sidmouth (SW Coast Path 23)

Looking west towards Sidmouth

Day 3 of our Coast Walking trip to Devon. We drove to Branscombe, where we left off yesterday, parked outside the church and climbed up to rejoin the coast path. We fairly soon emerged out of the woods, passed a couple of parked cars (how did they get there? should we have done the same?) and reached the open cliff top (Berry Cliff) with the first, rather hazy, views towards Sidmouth - today's destination.

A bit further on, the view became a little clearer, and we could make out the long sweep of coast from Sidmouth down to Otterton Ledge and the mouth of the Axe beyond, with Torbay further in the distance.

There followed a flat grassy section above Littleton Shoot, with more mysteriously parked cars, and the we could see the pebble beach of Weston Mouth, the first major descent on the walk - and the equally major climb waiting on the other side. The birds in the photo are ravens, which roost in the undercliff. We saw one quite close up sitting on a fence post and were impressed with its size.

The path takes you down right to the back of the beach, across the mouth of a pretty stream ...

 ... and through fields up the edge of the opposite cliff. We were very pleased to emerge a bit later on to Lower Dunscombe Cliff, a pleasantly undulating area, with hillocks covered in wild flowers and butterflies. The cliff itself was rugged and eroding.

After a short detour inland at Linchcombe, Higher Dunscombe Cliff was flatter and more agricultural than its Lower neighbour. The first clear view of Sidmouth opened up as we approached Salcombe Mouth, the second major descent/ascent.

This time at least it wasn't necessary to go right down to the sea before beginning to climb again. The view looking back to Higher Duncombe Cliffs and the shoreline below from the hill west of Salcombe Mouth was dramatic. It is a bit puzzling that this dramatic viewpoint doesn't seem to have a name.

Now we walked along Salcombe Hill Cliff and emerged to find a simply wonderful viewpoint over the town and its two bays.

A final winding, but quite gentle, descent, by comparison with the others, brought us to Sidmouth esplanade. The terraces with their verandahs date from 1837.

The Sidmouth Folk Festival was on, unbeknown to us, and the town was very busy. It look a little while to find a quiet pub for a recuperative drink and we decided to put off exploring until next time.

Conditions: cloudy for the most part, but warm.

Distance: 5 miles. Distance covered now 103 miles.

Map: Explorer 115 (Exmouth and Sidmouth).

Rating: four stars. Arduous, but rewarding.

Butterfly of the day

Quite a good day for butterflies. Lots of Meadow Browns and the odd Admiral, white and Fritillary. The signature butterfly however was the Gatekeeper. The photograph doesn't quite do justice to the intensity of the orange.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy this walk it's great. I recommend catching the AVMT 899 bus, it runs from Seaton to Sidmouth via Beer & Branscombe, it's a brilliant scenic bus ride! (i walk one way & get the bus back)