North Hampshire Downs Group of the Ramblers

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                                                  Trip to Paignton by Richard Keast

                                      

North Hants Downs Ramblers -  Paignton 2017

Sunday 18 June



The 2017 Summer Tramp for the North Hants Downs Ramblers was of course organised by the able partnership of Mike and Maureen, and this year’s event was forecast to be blessed with some of the hottest June weather on record.

And so it was that at 13.30 we assembled in the shade under the archway by the Harbour Light Restaurant, covered with sun creams and loaded with water bottles and enthusiasm, ready for Ed to lead us out.

It was an excellent walk that followed the South West Coastal Path, the 5.5 miles to Brixham Harbour. There were some climbs but we also walked adjacent to some lovely beaches, packed with probably locals, enjoying their Sunday off. We did receive a few bemused stares from folk sitting in the shade with a pint in hand. Some of the path was adjacent to the railway track and we were fortunate to see the large iconic black steam engine hauling carriages down to Dartmouth Harbour.

After Broadsands Beach we climbed up through woodlands adjacent to Churston Golf Club and the dappled shade was most welcome. The path down into Brixham Harbour afforded great views of the area and as we walked along the quay-side passing the Golden Hind replica our pace noticeably quickened as we made our way through the open door of the Blue Anchor.

Suitably refreshed we returned to Paignton via the Number 12 bus, and shortly after, the majority dined in the local Wetherspoons (Paignton is blessed with two). A lovely walk, Ed and a great start to our trip!



Monday 19 June


The day started badly for Mike when he was told in no uncertain manner that he was not allowed fried bread with his breakfast. “Rules are rules” unquote. I was not alone in wondering how Mike would get through his day, but fingers crossed.

To start the Monday walk to be led by Paul, we headed south to the small village of Torcross, about forty minutes from Paignton by car. The American Sherman Tank Memorial in the car park was dedicated to around 960 US servicemen who drowned during a D-Day landing practice due to having no protection from German U Boats.

The sun blazed down from a cerulean sky and it promised to be even hotter than yesterday for this 7 mile hike that started with over a mile along a path between the beach and the adjacent lagoon, enjoying a deceptively cooling sea breeze. The path headed inland around the lagoon and soon a lengthy water stop was held on a very smart viewing platform.

After crossing the charming Deer Bridge a testing hill soon had the troops talking about the pub possibilities in the village of Stokenham, our scheduled lunch stop. It was indeed a lovely pub and the shade in the beer garden was most welcome. Perhaps those of us who had recently checked out the walk should not have talked too much about the killer climb over the quarry at the end; probably the charming lady publican should not have mentioned the air ambulance twice visiting  the quarry area that morning; it may have even been the twice fried potato chips to die for that did it, but whatever it was, a schism was forming. A vote was taken to continue as planned or take a two kilometre downhill stroll, albeit with nice views, back to perhaps another ale house or ice cream parlour in Torcross. A large majority took the latter option leaving just six intrepids to continue. It was indeed a steep climb at the finish but the helicopter was not needed.

In the evening we caught the number 12 again into Brixham for an excellent fish meal in the Simply Fish restaurant opposite the Blue Anchor.

A nice walk, Paul, who of course did the whole route!


Tuesday 20 June


Mike was the leader today so of course it started with the ten o’clock steam train ride to Dartmouth that included the ferry to the far shore; really nice memories for the older generation in our party (the majority).

The harbour and surrounds were as pretty as a picture with the very imposing Dartmouth Naval College high above surrounded by woodland.

We tramped up the long hill away from the harbour and along the coastal path passing by the well preserved Dartmouth Castle. On the opposite bank but closer to the river was Kingswear Castle and in times gone by the two were joined by a long chain that stopped shipping entering the harbour until they paid their dues - a bit like car park ticket machines today?

There were great views out to sea and the rugged rocks below, and with names like Meg Rocks and Dancing Beggars, they became super names to be borrowed for local pop groups. Brackstone Point and Compass Cove were passed and then we looped back, enjoying steep paths both up and down made tougher by the scorching sun. We had much sympathy for the half a dozen volunteers strimming out the path and cutting back encroaching bushes.

After about six miles we arrived back in Dartmouth where we thought it only polite to try out the local brew in the Dartmouth Arms. We eventually made it back to Paignton the same way we came; another interesting day and excellent walk thanks to Mike.

Various culinary tastes were satisfied that evening with many enjoying a local Thai restaurant.


Wednesday 21 June


A short three mile drive to the village of Marldon was to be the start of our last walk. We were to have the full complement of around 25 walkers today and once again it was going to be hot one.

Before the start we had an important presentation to make and neatly wrapped in a white paper bag, Paul duly presented Mike with a slice of fried bread that we hoped eased the hurt he had felt on Monday! Paul was then taken to A and E by Ed to sort out his badly infected horsefly bite (or was it to get out of my walk?).

We started on a too long stretch of road but it did pass the rather nice NT Compton Castle. The obligatory steep hill was then tackled along with a considerable amount of undergrowth that had not been present a month ago. The original walk of at least ten miles had been shortened to about six and given the experience of the past few days that was about enough. After a few more hills and heat hazed views over Dartmoor we tramped along a narrow but vehicle-free lane until we reached Berry Pomeroy Castle for a much needed lunch and rest stop. A couple of the youngsters, John and Pauline, stayed on their feet and toured the castle, but the rest either enjoyed the shade in front of the castle or the chips and salad inside the cafe. Suitably refreshed, the last couple of miles through pleasant farmland just flew by.

In the evening, again various tastes were catered for, our Italian was very tasty although the three hours it took to be served was a tad too long. ( As are these notes you would probably say )


Thursday 22 June


After breakfast we said our farewells, some continuing their holidays and others heading home via the obligatory NT manors or castles.


Summary


Once again a great walking break for all, in excellent countryside and company. Well done, Mike and Maureen - your hard work was worth it.


Richard Keast









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