SWCP Day 36. Teignmouth to Peak Hill, Sidmouth

Today’s distance walked – approx 31 kms (19 miles).
Ascent – approx 685m (2247 ft).

I left Janec’s house around 6.20am, and wandered back to the seafront in town to get some nice photos. There were a few dog walkers out already, and a couple of swimmers having an early morning dip. I was suddenly gripped by a desperate need for the bathroom (#hikersworstnightmare) but you won’t find any bushes to duck behind, or a toilet that’s open in Teignmouth before 7am, so in a state of some crisis, I very fast-silly-walked back to the house again and didn’t get many photos. Note there will be a ‘when in nature’ toilet post coming soon… 😉

Early morning on Teignmouth seafront
Early morning on Teignmouth seafront

I was on my way again by 7am, and this time heading East towards Dawlish. Teignmouth has a stone promenade a few Kms long, running in front of the railway line, and it’s really nice. It would make an excellent morning running route. Today the sea was flat clam today, the sun was high in the sky already and there were no clouds. I eased myself into the day and didn’t take things to fast.

Dawlish
Dawlish

At the end of the sea wall there was a bit of an ‘up and over’ section to Dawlish. By 8am I was at the loos on the Western side of the beach by the harbour wall, which weren’t on my map but which were open.. bonus!

Fishermen in Dawlish
Fishermen in Dawlish

Dawlish also has a very long promenade and sea wall. I walked under the boardwalk along the bottom by the sea, where all the pigeons of Dawlish live when they’re not pestering the public in town. There were lots of fishermen, runners, and walkers out and I really enjoyed the section. It felt really good to just walk, and get some Kms under my belt with no hills or obstacles.

Under the boardwalk at Dawlish
Under the boardwalk at Dawlish

I reached Dawlish Warren at 8.40 and swung a left, to cross the railway bridge and start the short road walk. There wasn’t a lot here, except numerous huge family holiday/caravan parks. Soon enough I was out of town and heading inland into the river Exe estuary trail. It was flat and tarmac, and goes all that way into Exeter, but that’s a walk for another time..
Next I strolled though Cockwood, which wins the award for best and rudest place name on the SWCP, narrowly beating Cockington (just before Torquay).

Crossing the river Exe requires taking a ferry from Starcross. The first ferry leaves every day at 10.10am. I had arrived at 9.30, but was happy to sit in the sun and wait, as it wasn’t too hot yet.

Exmouth beach
Exmouth beach

When I got into Exmouth, I wandered into the town centre which has a lovely village square (actually a circle) and beautiful, planted cenotaph. The outdoor cafe tables were full, and there were lots of people enjoying a leisurely Sunday. I bought a sandwich from the (decent sized) Tesco metro, and watched the world go by for a while. I left at 11.30.
Exmouth has a huge beach and waterfront. Heading East, the deep water river channel comes close to the beach and is a great spot for watching the water traffic. There are lots of little cafes and ice-cream places too. I saw something that I never thought I’d see in life (for so many reasons) – a fit, tanned (presumably) English guy wearing a pair of George Cross/England flag Speedos! The Speedo is not a common fashion item in the UK. I internally congratulated him for his bravery, and his ability to wear them well.

The start of the Jurassic Coast
The start of the Jurassic Coast

By midday I had reached Orcombe rocks. This is the oldest part of the World Heritage Site known as ‘The Jurassic Coast’ which will lead me into Dorset soon. There’s a Geoneedle which marks the start of the Jurassic coast and some info describing the different rock exposed along the cliffs. Here in East Devon, the rock is Triassic and dates from 250-200 million years ago. West Dorset and Portland are Jurassic 200-145 million years (the stretch with the famous fossils) then Purbeck is Cretaceous 145-65 million years.

I reached Sandy Bay at 12.30pm. It was another nice red sand beach, with another huge holiday park behind it.

Sandstone waters
Sandstone waters

Going over the cliff path here there were superb views over to Budleigh Salterton. Looking down into Otter Cove from here, the water was red with sandstone, before clearing to a beautiful blue a little way out. As I climbed the path up the high cliffs, there was plenty of evidence of previous land slips, and there were lots of large cracks developing along too tops. I was enjoying the different and varied scenery today. The fields of barley here were golden with just a hint of green.. I love how I’ve seen the different stages of growth.

Golden fields of barley
Golden fields of barley

At 2.25 I arrived into Budleigh Salterton, a very lovely little town, with a long beach comprised of large flat multi-coloured pebbles. The gentle breeze cooled me as I ate my ice-cream and people watched. I filled up my water here in case I found a good wild camp spot between here and Sidmouth, so I was carrying an extra 3.5kgs of weight when I left.

Budleigh Salterton
Budleigh Salterton
Multi-coloured pebbles at Budleigh Salterton
Multi-coloured pebbles at Budleigh Salterton

I left at 3pm and headed inland and around the Otter estuary to get back out onto next headland.

Swans and cygnets at the Otter estuary
Swans and cygnets at the Otter estuary

The next section, although a great path, was pretty strenuous with a few ups and downs. It was super hot again and I was drenched with sweat. The trail goes through the Ladram holiday park. I’d been quoted £30 ($58 NZD) for a tent pitch there when I’d called them this morning. That’s almost twice the price of a pitch in Queenstown NZ!

East from High Peak to Sidmouth
East from High Peak to Sidmouth

The final couple of big climbs for the day were up to the top of High Peak (a little detour but worth it for the amazing view!!) then on to Peak Hill, which is National Trust land, and has lots of flat grassy bits and sheep amongst the bracken. I put up my tent around 5.30pm. As I write this around 8.30pm, I have sheep grazing around my tent, and a classical music soundtrack, which I can’t work out is from someone’s house, garden or an outdoor show 🙂

Oh, and I found the pole tips I lost yesterday. They were in their usual place… Sigh…

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