Saturday, 6 September 2014


We are in Topsham visiting cousins Iz and Nev en route for another bout of South West Coast Path walking. They took us for this lovely walk around their historic town.Topsham was once a the major port on the Exe estuary.

We set out from their house and walk up Monmouth Street, which has many imposing 18th century houses like those above. The Duke of Monmouth is said to have roused his troops in one of the houses along here. He led a Protestant rebellion in western England against the newly crowned James II in 1685.

 At the top we turn right along a lane, leaving the town to quickly reach the Bowling Green nature reserve. We can see lots of Small Egrets and various waders, notably Black-tailed Godwits and Greenshanks.

Further along we are tipped off by some birdwatchers that there is an Osprey roosting on the top of a post across a field. We whip out the binocs and have a good look.

The end of the lane opens out to the river estuary where the Clyst meets the Exe. We walk along a quite narrow path called Goat Walk, apparently it was only allowed to be wide enough to accommodate a man and his goat!

It leads into The Strand, with an impressive house, Strand End immediately on the right.

Just further along, we enjoyed this pretty bust.

At the far end of the Strand stands the handsome Shell House with the splendid porch which gives it its name.

Passing into Ferry Street, we climbed some steps to reach St Michael's churchyard. The views over the Exe include the wonderful Nail House with its Dutch gables.

Across the river, a wrecked boat provides a counterpoint to the smart ones moored against a pontoon. 

St Margaret's church is interesting as the sandstone tower appears to be in the angle of the transept. Pevsner (my 1952 edition) says that the church is mostly of 1869-78, although the tower is "old". I must check to see if a more recent edition is a bit more forthcoming

Knowing of my interest in almshouses, Iz and Nev routed us past this charming group of houses in Clara Place, in case they might add to my collection. They date from 1841, but seem to be a normal residential development on an unusual plan.

The High St has a pleasant variety of shops and buildings including the Salutation Inn of 1726. Pevsner comments on the "curious" combination of a Venetian window and a broken pediment.

Conditions: mild and bright at first, but becoming cooler and greyer.

Distance: maybe three miles.

Rating: four stars. A delight.

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