SWCP Day 32. Soar Mill Cove to Slapton Ley nature reserve

Today’s distance walked – approx 27.5 kms (17 miles).
Ascent – approx 1045m (3428 ft).

I woke at 5.30am, wiped the dew from the my tent and got under way as soon as I could. As I left, I killed around 10 baby ticks which I found on my hands and legs again. As I walked out of Soar Mill Cove I began to feel itchy all over – mostly because of paranoia I thought, but when I scratched my neck, face and back, sure enough I had more little ticks under my finger nails. I was quite concerned, but unfortunately couldn’t do anything about it until this evening, when hopefully I could find a campsite and wash myself, and all my clothes thoroughly. The thought of walking all day with ticks in my hair is freaking me out a little bit, but that’s how it is :-(.

I stopped for breakfast at The Goat cliffs, and found more ticks. I gave my head and hair a very lengthy scratch/finger brush.

From Goat cliffs

From Goat cliffs

Towards Bolt Head

Towards Bolt Head

This morning was another scorcher without a cloud in the sky, and just a gentle breeze. As I came up to Bolt Head there were spectacular views across the soaring cliffs. Out to sea, little fishing boats were bobbing around or heading out into the calm sea. Around Bolt Head, the water was pure turquoise, and I had views across to Starehole Bay and Sharp Tor.
This section gets better and better!

Towards Sharp Tor

Towards Sharp Tor

Steps up to Sharp Tor

Steps up to Sharp Tor

From Hope Cove this has probably been one of my favourite parts of the South West Coast Path.
I walked up and around Sharp Tor, with it’s jagged rocks and high cliffs, and Salcombe Bar and harbour came into view. By now I was sweating pretty heavily, which will hopefully wash some of the ticks away. From here the path went down into shaded woodland as I got closer to Salcombe.
From the outskirts of Salcombe, it was a road walk to the South Sands beaches, then up into Salcombe itself.

Coming into Salcombe

Coming into Salcombe

 Leaving Salcombe

Leaving Salcombe

I arrived into town around 9.30am.
I resupplied in Salcombe and ran a couple of errands, and had a cup of tea and a croissant. I crossed the river on the ferry, and left at midday after having a lovely chat with a 93 year old gentleman.
The path was initially through woods, then it opened up to cliffs again. I found myself directly opposite Sharp Tor. It was much the same terrain from here, sea cliffs and cute sheltered bays. There was a Stone hut at Gara, which someone told me was a nice cool spot for lunch, but it meant another climb, so I carried on to Gammon Head overlooking Maceley cove, and had a bite there. I broke my plastic peanut butter knife/spoon (which is actually a kiwi fruit spoon) and mended it with a piece of the duct tape I carry around my walking poles.

Out of Salcombe towards Prawle

Out of Salcombe towards Prawle

I started back on trail at 2pm. It had clouded over a little now, which was a relief. I reached Prawle Point, the most Southerly point of Devon and made my donation to the National Coast Watch. I popped into the tiny visitor centre. It is definitely worth a visit, and has lots of great info about wildlife, geology, weather, ships, local shipwrecks, wartime and much more.
From Prawle Point to Lannacombe I found the trail a bit boring. It was mostly flat walking next to farmland. It was a relief when the trail came closer to the sea to get a blast of cool sea air to cut through the heat.

Lannacombe bay

Lannacombe bay

I reached the headland at Great Sleadon Rock at 4.10pm. Offshore there was a huge current heading East, and the tide was coming in. I watched a kayaker heading West making little initial gain, and was concerned for him. I was pleased when he made it out of the choppy current into Lannacombe bay.

The lighthouse at Start Point

The lighthouse at Start Point

The stretch to Start Point was more interesting again with high cliffs and deep rocky coves in the sea below. There was a nice view of the lighthouse too. I had a rest at Nestley Point and took in the views over to Slapton Sands and Slapton Ley nature reserve, Stoke Fleming and the headlands beyond.

The nature reserve at Slapton Ley

The nature reserve at Slapton Ley

I reached Beesands with some relief, and had a ginger beer in the pub and filled up with water. There are a couple of campsites here, but one was too expensive, and the other wasn’t answering the phone. 3.5kgs heavier with water I plodded on up and over to Torcross. I called a campsite there, who were full, but they suggested a wild camp pitch by the middle/monument car park by the beach and Slapton Ley nature reserve a couple of Kms away. It was a bit public for my liking, but I couldn’t go any further after another big day in the heat. I arrived at 7.15pm.

Before I went to bed I took great delight in cleaning my teeth. I inadvertently left my toothpaste at Mike’s brothers house at the weekend, so I’ve only brushed my teeth with a brush for the past 2 days. It’s nice to taste fresh again!

Slightly uninspiring and public wild camp
A slightly uninspiring and very public wild camp

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