How many of our rambles begin with a ride on a passenger ferry? Not many I guess but this week the walk did do so. I was a little disappointed with the turnout as this walk is surely one of Devon’s best but I guess that the forecast of potential thunder storms and the bank holiday weekend plus the 12½ mile distance kept our numbers down.
Seven of us (including two new walkers) boarded the ferry at Starcross for a “river cruise” down the Exe before turning to port across the river and landing at the quay. From here we walked to the railway station where we picked up 4 more walkers and set off along the side of the river. It was a very misty day with a little light rain so the view across the water was somewhat restricted which was a shame but beyond my ability to do anything about. Cutting inland and crossing the railway line we went through the park and followed the road to the cycle track which we then followed for about half a mile.
We bore left along the path and re-crossed the railway line and walked along the river’s edge until the path came to an end at the Lympstone Road by the railway bridge. Turning left we travelled a short distance to where the road does a sharp right hand turn and paused on the seats overlooking the river for a drinks break.
At this point the sun came out with a corresponding increase in temperature so before setting off again we removed our rain gear and stowed it in our rucksacks. Walking through the village we were stopped by a passing cyclist who informed us that she had met one of our members further along the route who gave her a message that he would wait for us to catch him up. This we did just north of the station making our number up to 12 (still one of the lowest turnouts for Saturday walks for a very long time). We continued along the cycle track and passed through the village of Exton and on into Topsham. The path follows the railway line for most of the way so passing trains were constant companions throughout this part of our journey.
At Topsham we stopped for lunch overlooking what was once part of the harbour in warm, bright sunshine. After lunch we boarded the small ferry across the river to gain access to the Exeter canal where we turned left along the tow path towards Turf Locks. Still following the path we continued along the river bank and over the new railway bridge before following the road back to Starcross.
It had been a very enjoyable day and everyone agreed that the effort was well worth it. To finish I would like to raise a question if I may.
Where else in Devon can you undertake a virtually level 12½ mile walk in beautiful surroundings? Even in the mist this route has a quality and beauty which is hard to beat, unless, of course, you know better!
report by Rod W. Photos by Rod W and Helen U.