Day 331 Bigbury Bay and Burgh Island

Friday 1 July 2016

Wembury to Bigbury-on-Sea

17 miles

Mount Folly Farm Campsite

the River Yealm estuary
It was a cloudy non-descript kind of day and very windy. It hadn’t been windy like this for a good couple of months. I packed away, ate the snacks I’d bought from the Spar shop yesterday, and headed for the ferry across the River Yealm. 

a harbour for small boats between Warren Point, Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo
The ferry doesn’t run until 10am and I was there in plenty of time to be the first customer. The ferry is located at a kind of 3-way junction on the River Yealm and runs between Warren Point (the Wembury side), Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo. The Yealm Estuary is a drowned valley (Ria) and its high sides provide a sheltered harbour. There were lots of yachts moored up. This is also oyster country as they have been farmed here since at least Norman times. 

waiting for the ferry
The ferryman arrived (late) and I got onboard with £5 note in hand to cover my £3 fare. The conversation went like this:

Ferryman (routing around in jeans pocket): “I’ve only got 50p, have you got any change?”

Me: “I’ve only got £2”

Ferryman: “So that’s a problem. Either you give me £1.50 extra or I’m £1 out of pocket. How about we toss for it?”

Me: “No!”

Ferryman: “This is my livelihood and I’m not going to get many customers today”

Me: “why didn’t you come to work with any change then?”

Ferryman: “Well I’ll have to go around the boats and see if anyone has any change. That’ll take a while”

Me: shoulder shrug

He found some customers wanting a lift from their boat to the shore so he managed to extract some change from them (after I’d warned them they needed to have some change) and obviously we had to drop them off first before he would take me to Noss Mayo. What a cheek. I was fuming at his attitude. There was no way I was giving this joker any extra money. 

looking back across Plymouth Sound, Great Mew Stone and Rame Head
the view around Bigbury Bay all the way to Bolt Tail
The walk to Revelstoke Park was mostly along a track and easy going. I had views back across Plymouth Sound before I rounded Stoke Point and headed into trees. Hidden near the shoreline was the 13th Century Church of St Peter the Poor Fisherman. It looked intact apart from not having a roof, although this seemed to be part of the design. 

the church of St Peter the Poor Fisherman
Revelstoke and Stoke Point
There were a couple of very steep hills on the way to the River Erme, and a few coves. 

beautiful cliffs on the way to the River Erme
Bigbury Bay; Burgh Island and Bolt Tail visible
The River Erme does not have a ferry and can only be crossed an hour either side of low tide, by wading. I arrived at mid-tide and there was no way I could cross. All the signs said I had to get a taxi (there are no buses and to walk around would require an extra 9 miles all along busy minor roads). I walked up the hill to Mothecombe Old Schoolhouse cafe and had a cup of tea while I waited for a taxi. 

Mothecombe Beach
The taxi cost £30 and took half an hour to drive all the way around. This river needs a ferry! The taxi driver was very nice and was disgusted by the behaviour of the ferryman. There was no love lost there!
the Erme Estuary at mid-tide; definitely not wade-able!
I was dropped off at Wonwell Beach and watched a man swim across the river to Mothecombe Beach, where I’d been an hour earlier. 
rounding Beacon Point, Burgh Island clearly in view
The next section had several very steep ups and downs. The Rock was different here, it looked like great slabs of sharp slate. The beaches were grey and in inviting in the gale that was blowing (although it wasn’t cold). 

slate cliffs
Eventually I arrived at Challaborough, an enormous static caravan park right next to Bigbury-on-Sea. 

the beach at Challaborough
The tide was in and so Burgh Island was cut off. I could see the ruined chapel on top, the Pilchard Inn and the large, Art Deco hotel. I watched the sea-tractor (a sort of 4×4 vehicle on stilts) ferry some people across to the mainland. 

Burgh Island and the sea-tractor
It was a long slog uphill to my campsite. The wind was very strong and there were lots of kite- and wind- surfers out in the Avon Estuary. 

kite surfers in the mouth of the Avon Estuary at high tide…
…the tide receding…
…low tide
There wasn’t much shelter on the campsite so I pitched my tent in trepidation of a sleepless (and possibly a tentless one). The view was nice, right across Bigbury Bay, but the campsite facilities were not the best. 

Burgh Island
It was a long walk downhill, and then back uphill, to the holiday park clubhouse at Challaborough. This was the only food within a reasonable distance. I ate quickly, charged my phone and thought I’d walk back via Burgh Island (the tide was not out). What an unfriendly place! The hotel gates were shut – you need a booking, you can only walk on the footpaths and heaven forbid you should take a picnic, and the pub was only open to hotel guests. I walked to the top of the hill, by the ruined chapel, for a view of the mainland as the sun set and then left. 

the sea-tractor parked outside The Pilchard Inn
looking back at Bigbury-on-Sea from the top of Burgh Island

Day 241 Sunshine on the Ceridigion Coast

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Aberaeron to Llangrannog 

15 miles

Highbury Guest House, Cardigan

A fairly chilly start but it was bright. Deb kindly sent me on my way with a packed lunch, including her homemade cake. I climbed up the hill onto the cliff top heading South.  

Looking back on Aberaeron
 The theme of today’s walk was ‘up and down’. I lost count of how many cliffs I climbed only to drop down to the next little cove, across an outlet stream and then up the other side. It was incredibly beautiful and rather tiring.  

not far to New Quay
 It was such a clear day that I could see Snowdonia and parts of the Lleyn Peninsula all the way to Bardsey Island. It was beautiful.  

I can see for miles up the coast
 I reached New Quay at lunchtime and stopped to enjoy my picnic sat on a bench overlooking the beach and the sea wall. The sun was bright, it was warm and the town was busy; there were plenty of people on the beach and some brave souls taking a dip.  

busy on New Quay beach
 Another pretty town, brightly painted. There were plenty of references to Dylan Thomas as he made New Quay his home from 1944 and it was the inspiration for the town of Llareggub from Under Milk Wood.  

New Quay
 It felt like summer had arrived and, if I hadn’t been so muddy, I would have put shorts on. I had to break out the suncream. To celebrate I had my first ice cream of the year, and it was a good one.  

it doesn’t get better than this!
 Another climb out of New Quay, up and around New Quay Head.  

leftover from Easter I presume, on New Quay Head
 Suddenly the Irish Sea stretched out for miles, with varying shades of blue and green. It was a lovely sight.  

the Irish Sea
 I saw plenty of people on the coast path, some on several day hikes (they always ask me the same question: “are you doing the whole thing?” I must just look like I am) and some out looking for the Cardigan Bay dolphins.  

amazing rock formations around here
 It was wonderful to be on the cliffs in the sun, listening to the sea and the birds; a real sense of freedom and I walked with a permanent smile. The views were amazing at every turn (and every up, and every down).  

Looking down the coast to Pendinas Lochtyn Hill and Ynys Lochtyn
the view back to New Quay Head was just as stunning
 There was a nice little beach and caravan park at Cwmtydu, where cargoes of coal, limestone and salt where landed in the 19th Century. It was also used by Siôn Cwilt, a famous smuggler. I carried on, up yet another steep climb.  

looking down on New Quay Head
 The tiny island of Ynys Lochtyn, jutting out at the base of the Pendinas Lochtyn hill fort (stone-iron age) had been visible since I rounded New Quay head and was my destination.  

Pendinas Lochtyn Hill and Ynys Lochtyn
 I followed the coast path around the hill fort and admired Ynys Lochtyn but had no energy left to walk the extra mile onto it. Just around the corner was Llangrannog; another picturesque town. This one was tiny so probably more like a village, although it did have 2 pubs, shops and a couple of sandy beaches.  

Llangrannog tucked away
 The beaches are separated by a big rock called Carreg Bica. This is the tooth belonging to the giant Bica.  

Carreg Bica
Bica suffered from toothache and a dwarf called Lochtyn told him to stand with his feet in the sea to cure it. This he did, one foot creating Llangrannog beach and the other creating Cilborth beach. His tooth fell out and as a reward he ran his finger through the headland just above Llangrannog to create an island as it was Lochtyn’s wish to live on one.  

Ynys Lochtyn
 There were people on the beach and surfers in the sea. I decided to get fish and chips as an early dinner while I waited for the bus. Unfortunately the bus never came (the timetable was confusing and the bus only runs twice a day, but not every day, in summer). The nice locals in The Ship Inn called me a taxi after advising me that was my only option to get to Cardigan (which I was lucky to get after only 45 minutes as apparently it’s common to wait 3 hours!). So much for staying in Cardigan to keep the cost down! 

 I didn’t get to my accommodation until 7.30pm by which time I was very tired. Fortunately nothing could dampen my spirits after a lovely day. 

Day 79 On the bus off the bus to Dunottar Castle

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Tod Head Lighthouse to Aberdeen
15 miles
Oli’s house (Sam’s friend)


Looking my best after a night camping at the top of the lighthouse
 I woke up to the sound of screaming gulls and a wonderful 270 degree view out of the lighthouse.  

Tod Head lighthouse
 After breakfast Rohan walked me the “pub route” (scrambling around the cliffs) to Catelline, where she left me to catch the bus to Dunottar rather than walk on the road. 

Rohan, with her lighthouse in the background
  Dunottar Castle was worth seeing. The ancient stronghold of the Earls Marischal of Scotland it has a long and colourful history due to its fantastic position on a high cliff surrounded by sea on 3 sides. It was the sight of a failed 8 month siege by Cromwell that saved the Scottish Crown Jewels.  

The magnificent Dunottar Castle
From Dunottar to Stonehaven was a well trodden path (hurrah) via the Stonehaven war memorial on Black Hill. It was built in 1922 and was designed to look like temple ruins. It’s siting and design made it possibly the most impressive war memorial I had come across.  
The Stonehaven War Memorial at Black Hill

It was then a short walk down into Stonehaven, the birthplace of Robert Thompson, inventor of the pneumatic tyre. 

Stonehaven harbour with Garron Point in the background
  It seemed like a really nice town so I had a look around and stopped at the Cool Gourmet cafe, which I highly recommend for coffee and a homemade scone. Unfortunately the open air heated swimming pool, filled with sea water at the start of the season, was closed otherwise I might have been tempted for a dip. Instead I decided I wanted to walk to Garron Point, which is the Highland fault boundary, and is just North of Stonehaven. It marks the line between the sandstone rocks to the south and the harder, granite-type rocks to the North, the border between the Lowlands and the Highlands.  

Garron Point, where the Lowlands meets the Highlands
I’m pleased I walked this route up through Cowie Kirkyard and across the golf course as the views back to Stonehaven, Black Hill Memorial and Dunottar Castle were excellent.  

Looking back at Dunottar Castle, Black Hill and Stonehaven
 As it was already the afternoon, and the next section didn’t have marked paths, I walked back into Stonehaven to catch a bus to Portlethen. The bus stopped at Asda in Portlethen so I popped in to get a couple of bits and then thought I might as well push the boat out and get a taxi to Cove Bay to avoid a stretch of road walking. This worked well as it enabled me to enjoy the last stretch into Aberdeen along a beautiful coastline. I took the time to stop and watch the kittiwakes and razorbills nesting on the cliffs, ignoring the terrible smell.  
Can you see this kittiwake’s chick?
Kittiwakes nesting on the cliffs

There were lots of caves in the cliffs and it was generally a very pleasant walk.  

One of many caves
I crossed the stony Nigg Bay and then rounded Girdle Ness, past the lighthouse, and the port of Aberdeen came fully into view. There were lots of ships anchored in the bay and plenty more in port.  
Aberdeen port and looking across at Footdee and the Marine Operations Centre
It was a long walk around the port to Footdee, the old port area of Aberdeen with the new Marine Operations Centre. Here I met Oli, a friend of Sam’s, who had kindly agreed to put me up for the night. Another outdoors person, like Rohan, it was nice to chat and Oli was a great host. I was feeling really lucky to have had a few nights of good company now. 

I didn’t stop at the fish bar in Stonehaven

Day 25 It’s Lincolnshire!

Thursday 30 April 2015

Sutton Bridge to Fosdyke Bridge (then Wyberton into Boston)
20 miles
YNot Guest House (I know why not!)

The forecast was for rain in the afternoon so after yesterday’s experience, and with a very long walk of the same ilk today, I set off early. The lovely lady from the pub I stayed at gave me an egg mayo roll to take with me and a lift around the Sutton Bridge Port in case they wouldn’t let me through. Those 2 small things set me off with a spring in my step for another march around the edge of The Wash. It felt like a march more than a walk because there was little to see and I passed no one. The most excitement was skirting around RAF Holbeach bombing range, which extends into The Wash. The red flags were flying but unfortunately I didn’t see any aircraft.  

Aim Here; the RAF Holbeach bombing range
As I got further around towards the Fosdyke Wash I could see the famous Boston Stump in the distance.  

Looking across The Wash at the Boston Stump
I was lucky with the weather and although rain threatened I never felt more than a few spots. It was very windy and chilly again though and I was glad when I arrived at the Fosdyke Bridge, the final one of the 3 that link N Norfolk to Lincolnshire. Feeling a few spots of rain I decided to pop into The Ship for a welcome pint. Whilst sipping said pint I discovered from the barmaid that the Internet had lied to me and there are in fact no buses in this small town to take me to Boston. I was hoping to catch a bus to Boston and then back to Fosdyke in the morning to carry on my walk but a rethink was now required. In the end I got a taxi to Wyberton, just outside Boston, and walked the rest of the way to my accommodation. The taxi driver couldn’t take me all the way to Boston because he had a school run to do, there were no other taxi drivers in the area and no point being dropped at a bus stop because the buses get diverted for the school run…well it is Lincolnshire!

Day 2 is Full of Rubbish

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Barking to Purfleet
6 miles walked
taxi to Provident Lodge, N of Tilbury

Thanks to my friend Val for hosting me last night and cooking me a lovely meal; I fear the bar has been set too high to follow. I had a tube ride back to Barking to contemplate my blistered and aching feet before I set off on a glorious sunny day. I’ve never been to Barking and Dagenham before and they definitely disappointed. Maybe I only saw the worst bits but there was a lot of litter and I counted 6 dumped mattresses on the side of the road; a definite record. Bored of dirty side streets, achy feet and no sign of the river I hopped on a bus to Rainham (it’s not cheating as this isn’t a challenge!). Rainham Marshes were interesting and full of birds, and rubbish. In fact there is a huge landfill site there as well as a dump for stuff that’s dredged out of the Thames. Lovely. When I finally hit the riverbank there were great views of the Queen Elizabeth II bridge and the Darent Valley flood barrier (should get a closer look at that next year). 

River Darent flood barrier from the Purfleet RSPB Centre
By the time I reached Purfleet RSPB reserve my feet were killing me so I decided to call it a day and get a taxi to my B&B. I did enjoy tea on the veranda first, admiring the view. Listening to the local twitchers getting excited about the sighting of a red kite and a spitfire was amusing as I have left home where there are hundreds of red kites and I’ve seen the RAF Spitfire numerous times as well. Should have stayed at home!