Saturday, 29 September 2012

Buddleigh Salterton to Exmouth (SW Coast Path 25)

The west end of Buddleigh Salterton beach

Refreshed after an excellent dinner at Tobias restaurant and a good night's sleep, we awoke to a lovely sunny day and set out reasonably early to walk to Exmouth.

We didn't, sadly, get to see East Buddleigh, where Sir Walter Raleigh was born and where Millais travelled to paint The Boyhood of Raleigh.

The west end of the beach, with yet more red sandstone cliffs looked lovely in the morning light. The red cliff along this section of coast are variously described as being 200 or 250 million years old. The beach at Buddleigh is interesting, being formed of smooth flattened oval pebbles, some quite large.

We chatted to a man who had just bought fresh plaice and brill from a fisherman on the beach, and seemed appropriately happy about it. As we followed the path upwards, a fine view of the whole beach looking eastwards became visible.

The path crossed a level grassy area and then began to climb through heathland. Helpfully positioned benches offered ever more wonderful views back to the east.

At Littleham Cove we encountered the first of two closely located holiday parks, but the views back along the coast were exquisite.

We crossed the headland behind Straight Point (is that a bit of a contradiction in terms?), forced inland by the existence of an MOD firing range, to skirt another, even more massive holiday park behind the very reasonably named Sandy Bay.

This was interesting for its depth and shallowness - and for its yellow sand. We watched people taking a brisk stroll along the beach and round the corner to Orcombe Point, then back along the Coast path.

At Orcombe Point, which marks the end of the Jurassic Coast we saw the impressive Geoneedle, with Exmouth in the background.

This area is also the oldest part of the Jurassic Coast. The Geoneedle contains nine different stones found along this coast embedded into a frame of Portland Stone and was unveiled in 2002. It was commissioned from the artist Michael Fairfax to mark the recognition of the Jurassic Coast as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

We soon descended from the cliff top to reach sea level and then followed a promenade for the best part of two miles into Exmouth. The white facades of its hotels stood proudly by the wide mouth of the river Exe.

As we approached the centre we came on the modest Jubilee Clock of 1887.

We thought it similar to the one back up the coast in Seaton.

Finally, we reached the ferry across the Exe and the nearby marina, where we were really taken by the varied and brightly coloured apartments.

Conditions: sunny, war.

Distance: 6 miles. Distance now covered 116 miles.

Map: Explorer 115 (Exmouth and Sidmouth).

Rating: four stars. Some great photographic opportunities.


One odd and rather annoying feature of this walk was that although it was very well signposted, the distances on the signposts were wildly inconsistent. At the outset we saw a sign saying Exmouth 4m. This surprised us because the SWCP guide describes this section as 6 miles. After a while we began to see signs pointing in each direction: Buddleigh 2 / Exmouth 2. But then all of a sudden, half a mile later Buddleigh 2 1/2 / Exmouth 2 1/2. We even found a combination adding up to 5 1/4. Then later it was back to 4m. From the time taken and my pedometer reading we are pretty sure that it was in fact 6 miles to the Starcross Ferry.

Having said that, I must say that in general East Devon council are doing a grand job of signposting. There is always one when you need it and most, if not all, have the grid reference on a white label: invaluable if you know where you are going, but are not sure where you are.

Flower of the day

What is this ubiquitous yellow flower?

Butterfly of the day

We saw lots of seemingly freshly-minted Red Admirals. This one offered the rare opportunity of a photo of the underwings from below as it basked on an ivy flower.

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