Monday, 24 June 2013

East Prawle to Salcombe (South West Coast Path 34)

Lannacombe Bay

On our last visit (1 May) we had to make a detour off the coast path because of a cliff fall at Lannacombe. We started today at the edge of East Prawle, where we ended up last time, and walked back to rejoin the detour route and then find our way down to the coast path itself, just a few hundred yards from where we had left it. There was soon a nice view back over Lannacombe Bay. On the way down I spotted these delightful flowers on a hedgerow shrub.

We advanced along a low cliff top, surprised to see corn growing so near to the coast, and at Langerstone Point had a fine view across to Prawle Point, with its lookout station above and sea arch below.

The section leading to the point was across a low grassy area almost at sea level. Somewhere along here I saw what I have since identified as a Gannet - a gull-like bird with white wings with black bars at the ends, which dropped into the sea a few times in the manner of a Tern. It's always good to add a bird to the list I those I can identify!

But then the path climbed to reach a curious enclosed area bounded by stone slabs a little like gravestones. This wall went down both sides towards the sea and across the inland side parallel to it, creating a sort of field, albeit only with wild flowers. The overall effect was quite eerie. We have read elsewhere that stones like these are used as boundary markers.

There was a fine view head to Gammon Point and as we came closer we saw a number of Fulmars in the air and nesting on the cliffs.

We paused above the sandy Maseley Cove, which can be seen in the picture above, for a light lunch.

Soon a longer view of the coastline became available and the entrance to Salcombe Harbour could be seen, with Bolt Head on the extreme left.

We admired the quiet sandy beach at Seacombe Sands ...

... and were staggered by the profusion of Foxgloves in the hillside above. Foxglove had certainly been the signature flower of this section of coast, but we had not previously seen such a concentration.

We climbed steadily to pass below Gara Rock, where there is clearly a splendid new modern hotel. There were great views back, with yet more Foxgloves.

Looking up, you could see the old lookout point.

The final section passed below Portlemouth Down through some very nice woodland to round Limeberry Point and enter the wide estuary known here as Salcombe Harbour. Sunny Cove is on the right, with Salcombe itself on the other bank. Beyond Sunny Cove is the lovely sandy beach at Mill Bay.

By the time we reached Salcombe we had just missed the last ferry, but a helpful resident gave us the number of a water taxi and after a not unpleasant wait in the evening sun, we enjoyed a delightful short trip across the harbour.

This is the view up the Kingsbridge Estuary as the more inland body of water is known. It is a substantial area of water, with several creeks off it.

It is not in fact an estuary properly speaking, because it is not the outlet of a river. I learn from Wikipedia that it is an example of a ria, "a coastal inlet formed by the partial submergence of an unglaciated river valley - a drowned river valley that remains open to the sea". A creek, on the other hand, is a tidal inlet of the sea. Estuaries form an important aspect of the south Devon coastline, so it is good to be clear about these distinctions.

Conditions: cloudy at first, but war.

Distance: 8 miles in all, of which 6.5 were on the official coast path. Distance now covered 177.1 miles.

Map: OL 20 South Devon.

Rating: Four stars.

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