Day 039: Stoke Fleming to Salcombe

Distance: 18.60 miles

Ascent: 4812 feet

Weather: Sunny, Very Light Snow

Accommodation: Victoria Inn, Salcombe (Kindly Complimentary)


The red loop is my Dad's Route


So with Dad in town today it involved a little more planning, to ensure it all went smoothly and that we made it in time for the last ferry to Salcombe at 5pm. So I set of just before 8, leaving Dad to be able to enjoy a full English (sadly kitchen not open when I left) and had told Dad that I would meet him at Torcross at 10am.

The start to the day as I headed down to Blackpool Sands was quite surreal. The sun was out, not a cloud in the sky, and the emerald green sea against the sand was so inviting, but contrary to all that it was somehow snowing if only lightly.

I think some private landowners must have blocked the ideal route for the next part of the path as it heads inland a bit up and down some quite steep bits to Strete before heading slowly back down to Slapton Sands. This is a site of one of the worst tragedies of the second world war, as part of the D-day landings Slapton Sands was a practice site primarily for the Americans. Unfortunately, during one of the practise runs 9 German U-boats spotted the practise flotilla of 8 American landing craft. The British spotted the U-boats and radioed through, the only issue being that the Americans were on a different signal so did not get the message. Unfortunately this resulted in the crafts being shot, and possibly 749 Americans dying far more than died on Utah beach itself. On a beautiful day like today it is almost impossible to imagine these events happening.

I arrived at Torcross, where I met my Dad and his first comment was ‘You are behind schedule’, this made me laugh as it was only 10:02! Fortunately, a café was open, so we had a quick cup of tea together. From here we split again, my Dad drove around to Salcombe to drop the car off, before he was going to catch the Portlemouth Ferry and walk up the lanes to East Prawle. Whilst obviously I carried on along the coast and had to climb up to East Prawle. I told Dad I would be there by 1pm.

The walk from Torcross to East Prawle was quite simply the most stunning part of the walk so far with the sun blazing and the paths gently climbing up and down as they clung to the cliffs. As I rounded Start Point I thought this was just perfect scenery with the rock headland and the white lighthouse just enhancing it even more.

After Lannacombe Beach the path became a bit harder going as it was very rocky underfoot and as I approached the East Prawle area I realised there would be a significant climb up and it was already 12:55. The ‘bridleway’ up was just massive boulders, why it was designated a bridleway I don’t know as it was hard enough on foot, a horse or bike would have no chance. I finally made it to The Pig’s Nose Inn in East Prawle about 1:15. Dad was already there and on his second pint and panicking that I was late. We had some food and then just after 2pm Dad finally made his first appearance on the walk proper, luckily bathed in glorious sunshine. We set off for Prawle Point and then the 4 miles or so back to Portlemouth. Fortunately it wasn’t to steep, though by no means flat and Dad completed it well (his part 8.5 miles), though with a few small grumbles towards the end as would be expected as it was a tiring stretch.

We made it back just in time for the last ferry arriving about 4:45 ready for the 5pm ferry. Ferry being a loose term, as it was a tiny boat that could maybe take 8 or 10 people. As we landed on the Salcombe side I was very glad to see the Victoria Inn only 50 m away, who had kindly offered me a free room for the night and fortunately though they only have 2 rooms my Dad was able to also book the other room for the night. We settled in and I think we both needed the rest and food. The room was lovely and perfectly situated in the centre of Salcombe.

Overall a very successful day and though it required a lot of thought and admin it went very successfully. The sun and scenery as well as my Dad being there made this quite clearly the best day of the walk so far.

charles compton