Day 034: Branscombe to Exton
Distance: 22.48 miles
Ascent: 5102 feet
Weather: Sunny Spells
Accommodation: The Glanvill's Family House
We woke up to a fairly chilly but dry morning packed up our stuff and were on our way about 8. We headed out of the village and passed St Winifreds Church, which is one of the oldest churches in Devon with some materials dating back to the 10th century and the church itself is Norman from the 12th century.
We climbed up a stepped path to rejoin the south west coast path, which followed the ridge for several miles where we made good progress before hitting Weston Mouth. This entailed a very steep, very muddy, partially stepped descent of about 550 feet over only a couple hundred meters, all the way down to the beach, before heading straight back up the other side which fortunately wasn’t quite as steep but still very tiring.
After a short walk along the ridge we hit Salcombe (nowhere near actual Salcombe) Mouth, which was similar but not as steep as Weston Mouth. Unfortunately Eddies knees had started to hurt making the descent very painful, and in fact for the first time on the walk I got some twinges in my knees on the descent though nothing major. At the bottom it looked like we could walk along the beach to Sidmouth rather than head over the cliff to it. So, I made the decision to take the shortish descent down to the beach but at the bottom a sign said no access to Sidmouth along beach and it was obvious we couldn’t walk it. It was an annoying mistake as we had to do the short climb back up but didn’t take too much time.
We were soon in Sidmouth, where a couple who had met us at the top of Salcombe Hill very kindly offered to buy all three of us a hot drink. We sat & had a chat before we set of again on the walk, but not before we had stocked up on pasties and snacks.
After climbing up out of Sidmouth the ascents and descents decreased significantly, though it was still definitely not flat. We made good progress all the way to about 300m from Budleigh Salterton where, though half expected, there was a small river maybe 5m wide but no way of crossing it, so we had to divert inland for about 1km before heading back down to Budleigh Salterton. This definitely lowered the mood of the group, but after a quick snack and drink, and a kind donation from a girl we were on our way again for the last stretch. Eddie by now in quite obvious pain, soldiered on.
We climbed over the last ridge, passed some massive & disgusting static caravan parks (I do not know why they give these parks planning permission as they ruin the coastline and some small aesthetically pleasing huts/cabins could definitely be build instead) and were soon in Exmouth.
This is where Eddie and Malcolm had to leave for the station, after approximately 40 miles and 10,000 feet ascent of walking. It was great having them on the walk for a couple of days, and they were over kind paying for almost everything whilst they were with me. Fortunately, they got mostly good weather, and some of the best scenery of walk so far, but I have a feeling they will be feeling it tomorrow morning.
So I carried on alone for the final 4 miles, along the River Exe on a very flat tarmacked/boarded cycle/walkway to Exton arriving just after it got dark. I was picked up by Lizzy who had contacted me through my website and kindly offered alongside her husband to put me up for my rest day.
It was great to reach my rest day, as the last few days had tired me out. But after being served a glorious roast pork dinner, followed by homemade sticky toffee pudding I was already beginning to recover.
So a good day, finishing the week actually slightly ahead of schedule.