It seems so long ago………………….and it has been, but hopefully I am now back on track. Two months to say goodbye to Mum but I think she’s still with me – in the sea spray, the sound of waves breaking on the rocks, the shy morning sun, the gentle rain and warmth of the colours of Autumn.
Damian joins me to walk from South Sands – we’re going to see how far we get, as the weather looks unpredictable. The sea tractor ferry to Salcombe is still in operation but lies idle on the beach as there are only a few people about on this overcast morning. What a difference from the madding crowd of a hot summer’s day, last time I was here.
Up the narrow tarmac road we walk, through some woods and then out onto the path that runs along the top of the cliffs. It’s an overcast day but no rain yet – in the distance the vegetation has settled itself into patterns – can you see the heart?
The path is quite narrow as we approach Sharp Tor, here’s Damian taking a sharp breath in ………………….
……….and myself, not bothering.
Up ahead some curious cattle stand in wait, ears pricked expectantly. Six or seven of them straddle the path and as they are quite small I make a point of checking their undercarriages to see if they are cows or bullocks.
The path is easy walking and we soon reach Soar Mill Cove where a path on our right takes us up the hill to the hotel we will be staying in tonight. This is a chance to lighten our bags and take advantage of the complimentary cream tea – say no more….
Back by the beach again the path rises steeply upwards and we are then back onto the top of the cliffs heading for Bolt Tail. On a downward slope we pass a bench with its own moat – a testament to the amount of rain we could have encountered, we have been lucky.
From Bolt Tail we look down on the villages of Inner and Outer Hope, the sea is very rough.
Walking over the bridge we stop to watch some surfers and then further on, in Outer Hope, some people in wetsuits standing right at the very end of a long breakwater. As we watch, massive waves crash up and over the wall – these matchstick men look extremely vulnerable but I guess they know what they’re doing.
Suddenly, one of them dives into the water and emerges some way away – he then swims back to the breakwater ladder and hauls himself up onto what must be a very slippery surface…….it looks great fun.
Just before Thurlestone we are diverted off the path due to slippage – at the base of the signpost is a strange flesh coloured wall – I wonder…….
The diversion takes us over a very narrow wooden bridge and back to the shore. Looking back I take a photo of Thurlestone Rock – a pierced rock standing stiffly in the rolling sea.
By now, I am starting to feel a little faint. We have covered a lot of miles and the cream tea seems like a distant memory. The choice is whether to walk into Thurlestone and find a taxi back to our hotel or carry on to Bantham and hope that there is a pub – it says so on the OS map but you never know……
Asking the locals is not much help – some say no, others yes, so fortified with a soft mint, that I discover tucked into the seam of my rucksack pocket, we decide to brave it out. The path follows the coast at a low level, past the golf course and up to Bantham Sand where it turns inland into the village…………and there it is, a lovely little 14th century hostelry, the Sloop Inn. The local beer, Proper Job, is wonderful and fully lives up to its name.