It is my daughterly duty to take my father for A Walk, whenever possible when visiting home so on Saturday we sallied forth to do battle with ‘the hills’.
To describe the coast path between Kingswear and Brixham as hilly is to suggest that the Grand Old Duke of York took his men for a gentle stroll along a road with speed bumps.
We may not have been walking all the way to Brixham, but the four (ish) miles along the coast to Coleton Fishacre can feel like a never-ending series of ups and downs, from sea level to the top of the cliff and back again in one easy calf-busting manoeuvre.
But the views make it all worthwhile. Heading out of the estuary you can see over to the castle and St Petroc’s church at the entrance to the harbour, looking very picture postcard with the dinghies and yachts (drifting and motoring respectively!)
Leaning over the wall, we also caught a glimpse of something I have seen many times from the other side when coming into Dartmouth at night;
We also picked up some decorating tips – if you have a spare turret, suit of armour and metal hawk, now you know just what to do with them
Personally I think this guy needs a cannon to defend himself against the long guns at the castle on the other side of the river which are fired every year as part of the Regatta celebrations in August.
As we trekked up hill and down vale, the sun started to put in an appearance and chase away the early morning cloud.
Dad, standing below, is actually on the same path which snakes its way up the hillside in a lazy zig zag, and we’re both looking down into Newfoundland Cove
Turquoise, untrodden, and empty but for a solitary yacht – bliss!
Once we got out of the Dart estuary the path evened out a little (although there was one memorable moment where we went all the way down to sea level only to climb right up again and discover a path that stayed high and linked the two). This is taken from Inner Froward Point which was the site of a WW2 battery, much of which remains today, and some of which has been appropriated as a useful spotting point by the volunteer Coastguard.
Because its Devon, and logical like that, the next outcrop of rock is Outer Froward Point, and here the sun burst forth, dazzling as it sparkled off the water, and lending a very picture postcard air to daisies, more daisies and lichen!
Further along the coast we discovered that the National Trust has introduced some deliberately lost Dartmoor Ponies, brought in for grazing without damaging the pre-existing plants (I’m guessing the goats on Prawle Point have not been an unbridled success). Electric fences have been put up along the cliff edge to stop them getting stuck on narrow inaccessible ledges
– yes that’s clearly worked well!
For a child well versed in Jim Davis, Richard Hannay and Davies and Carruthers, this was always near enough to a smuggler’s cave. I was always disappointed that the hill on which my grandparents lived did not reveal secret passageways to the pirate lair, as described with so much geographical accuracy by John Masefield. I live in hope that one day my mother will pull up a lettuce for lunch and discover a tunnel down to the water’s edge many feet below.