Much of the path today is stony and when skirting a sharp drop down to the sea it’s exciting. Silver studded blue butterflies whirl up in front of me as I walk up the path out of Lannacombe Beach through ferns and low scrub. The path is narrow but easy to follow and at one point I come across a memorial. “Dula Rose” what a wonderful name – if it wasn’t in Devon I could see her as a strong, silver haired matriarch in her 70’s, sapphire blue eyes bright against her lined weather beaten face, a wide straw hat protecting her from the pitiless sun and dust of the American prairie – what do you see? After a while the path opens up and after walking through a gate I catch a glimpse of some buildings and a large house. Diggers lay idle behind large piles of earth – the lucky someone who owns this property is obviously renovating and rebuilding.
A very beautiful but isolated place to live, your only uninvited visitors a few walkers crossing the bottom of the garden occasionally.Leaving the house I am now on a broad grassy shelf, craggy rocks to the right, cliffs down to the sea to the left. It is a beautiful day and the slight breeze is salty and refreshing – at one point I come to a very interesting sign.
Up ahead I can see the look out station at Prawle Point and after a steep climb I reach it. There is a small visitors centre which tells me I am at the most southerly point in Devon. I have a little chat with one of the coastguards who bemoans the fact that they can’t get enough volunteers for the evening shifts……any takers?
The path now winds off to the left following the contours of the coast – the landscape is wild and empty. I keep wanting to stare into the distance and immerse myself in its rugged beauty but I have to keep an eye on the rocky path – don’t want to end up spraining an ankle again, especially when there are so few walkers around (like none so far).
Down below me are lots of small coves, all empty of human life until I come to Maceley Cove. From where I’m standing I can see no-one, but moored in the bay are two boats and I can also hear children laughing.
When I reach the other side of the cove I can see two families camped up under the cliff and I also notice a very steep narrow path leading down to the beach. So to get to this small piece of paradise you have to walk a good few miles or come in by boat – I have also discovered that the cove is on the Wild Swim Map drawn up by the Outdoor Swimming Association.
Leaving this enchanting spot I come across another memorial plaque involving the Rose family – they must have been a powerful presence at one time.After a while the wildness of the landscape retreats and I start to see signs of human life. Below me sea kayaks dart around the contours of the rocks and I start to meet holiday makers from (I realise this when I get there) the hotel at Gara Rock.
By this time I am extremely hot and sweaty and despite the tangles of green weed floating on the surface of the water I pick my way in between the large rocks covered in green slime and hurl myself into the water. Almost immediately a young girl swims out to join me and treading water we have a little chat about this and that. When I decide I’ve had enough she is still splashing about so as there are no adults in the close vicinity I try to ask her where her parents are. There ensues a confusing exchange involving the family’s black labrador with a red ribbon round its neck whereas I can only see a knot of people (quite far away) sitting next to a black labrador sporting a blue ribbon. Fortunately a woman floats by on a body board who seems to know the girl and assures me she will keep an eye on her. There follows a bit of wondering whether at that age I would have left my daughter alone in deep water even if I knew she could swim. I then decide it’s probably age – we do tend to get more jittery about things the older we get non?
Anyway, by now I am very hungry so I set off over Rickham Common and down into Mill Bay and the ferry crossing to Salcombe which I can now see in the distance.Walking through woodland alongside the estuary, I pass one beach, then another, then another – how many more!?
Eventually I reach a small cafe with a sign pointing down to the ferry. I walk down the stone steps and take my place in the small queue on the landing stage.On the other side is the Ferry Inn – too early for alcohol though, so I walk up the stone steps out onto a street full of chi chi coffee shops, natty boutiques and crowds of well dressed tourists.I slide into a cosy well stocked cafe selling the most delicious cakes and treat myself. Sugared up I then decide I have time and energy to walk through the town and on to South Sands, where I know I can get a ferry back to Salcombe where I am staying the night.
The ferry service at South Sands starts with a sea tractor – I have to rush to get it, so no time to take a photograph, but what a strange sensation it is to be sitting in a cart being pushed out to sea by a tractor to meet the colourful little ferry boat further out in the bay.
Distance: I forgot my Jawbone so can’t say – maybe 10 or 11 miles.