Saturday 2 July 2016
Bigbury-on-Sea to East Prawle
Camping in Mr Tripp’s field
I survived a very windy night (which I later found out from the Prawle Point Lookout Station was a ‘nearly gale’). The sun was shining as I packed away so I washed a couple of bits and hung them off my rucksack. I was hungry so decided to walk the long, steep road to the beach to get some breakfast when the cafe opened at 9am. I had to wait until 10am for the ferry across the River Avon anyway. This one passed without incident.
There were lots of cars arriving at Bantham Beach as the Outdoor Swimming Society were hosting a swim down the river to the sea. The beach looked nice but I carried on over the cliffs and around to Thurlestone Beach. I stopped to watch a kestrel hovering just beside me and got a great view of him diving to catch a small mammal and then eating his prey on the cliff.
The beaches here were nice, although I noticed there were lots of menacing-looking rocks underwater that restricted entering the water. It was really windy again and there were plenty of kite surfers taking advantage.
I passed through Outer- and Inner- Hope, skirting behind their shared beach, Hope Cove. Both had some lovely cottages.
Bolt Tail signified the end of Bigbury Bay, and claimed to offer views back to Dodman Point on a clear day. I could see a huge black cloud over Rame Head and it was coming my way.
The cliffs between Bolt Tail and Bolt Head were very rugged, reminding me of North Cornwall and also a bit of the Quairing on Skye. The views inland were almost as good as the views of the sea.
The monsoon-like rain caught me just before I reached Bolt Head. It was horizontal thanks to the strong wind so I was soaked to the skin at the back and dry-ish at the front. I didn’t walk all the way out to Bolt Head but cut off the end and clambered around Sharp Tor just as the rain eased. I could see up the entrance to the Kingsbridge Estuary to Salcombe.
I think there were more boats around Salcombe than I saw in either Falmouth or Plymouth. They were crammed in. This place had serious money as there were enormous houses dotted all over the cliffs.
There were several little beaches, on both sides of the estuary. The water looked a lovely bottle-green, and with the palm trees that were dotted around (and the glorious sunshine that was now overhead) I felt like I might be in the Caribbean.
Salcombe is not designed for walking; narrow lanes spell disaster, particularly when filled with rich youths in big cars driving too fast. I had one lucky escape and thought I should have got the ferry from South Sands to the town centre.
The town centre was packed. I managed to buy a lovely sandwich from a deli and sit on the waterfront watching people heading to and from boats. I avoided all the posh shops.
After an hour’s break I caught the ferry across the estuary and walked past all the posh houses tucked around Mill Bay.
The walk to Prawle Point was wonderful. The terrain was rugged and the sea was pounding the cliffs in a white froth, making the sea look minty fresh. Yet more up and down; very tiring at the end of a long walk.
I had reached the Southernmost point in Devon.
I popped into the Lookout Station at Prawle Point and discovered an old man had just fallen off the cliff ahead of me. Fortunately he was only walking wounded. The coastguard has been very busy until 2 minutes before I arrived.
I walked up the hill to East Prawle (all the campsites seem to be at the top of a hill). There were 2 campsites and I chose the better one. This one was a cow field; the cows had been removed but it was full of cow pats. The grass was knee high and there was a toilet block that I didn’t find (it was a dirty old shed and you needed to provide your own loo roll). I didn’t find a water tap either (I stole into a caravan site and used theirs). And this was the better site! I spent a while picking grass and covering the fresher cow pats so at least I wouldn’t be rolling in one overnight. Then I headed to the pub, The Pig’s Nose Inn, for a shower. They have a shower room in the cellar with 4 shower heads in it. Very weird, but I was desperate.
The Pig’s Nose had been recommended to me as a quirky pub and it was definitely that. It was owned by an ex-roadie who still gets his mates to play in the hall next door. They were playing tonight and the pub was full. I managed to walk in without paying for a ticket, which was fortunate because I left after one song. I returned to the bar and the raucous music that was being played. I was being led astray by Mark, Mark and Churchie, who were camping for the weekend to come to this pub. I didn’t leave until well after midnight.