Having been suitably kitted out in Children in Need Pudsey Bear ears, and partaken of fund raising iced buns made by Karen and Steve, on a beautiful autumnal Sunday 7 October morning, 7 magnificent Torbay Ramblers, plus 1 leader, set off from Wembury, to trek what was eventually a half marathon circular route.
The Wembury spur of the Erme-Plym trail was the starting point. We began on a leafy bridle path, then up through fields to emerge on Traine Road. Another uphill section led to a stile where we joined the Plymouth spur of the Erme-Plym trail. More undulating fields soon brought us to Staddiscombe village. Here one delighted member of the group discovered a ‘Hovis’ topped King George postbox, complete with brushes in the aperture.
Leaving the village we wandered along more fields to enter Radford Woods, having enjoyed extensive views across to Dartmoor, where the communication aerial at North Hessary Tor was visible in the lovely conditions.
Photos were taken of the group in the ‘fairy ring’ in the bluebell glade (in spring)within the woods. Downhill then through the wooded area to Radford Dip, where a coffee break was taken overlooking the lake in Radford Park. We watched as various bird life was being fed by the locals. At this point the Erme-Plym trail ended and we joined the South West Coast Path beside Hooe Lake. However, on this morning, the tide, from the River Plym was out, so the lake was simply a mudflat.
The route then wandered up and down and into Turnchapel, passing what was at one time the Royal Marines Commando Amphibious depot, now occupied, by amongst others, Princess Yachts. In the village main thoroughfare another Georgian postbox was found, and much admired. Uphill, then down 80 steps, to the Marina at Mount Batten. Here we had our first glimpses of the National Marine Aquarium on the Plymouth Barbican, the Citadel and Smeatons Tower on the Hoe.
Mount Batten is the site of a former RAF station, where at one time Lawrence of Arabia served. Every August on the pier at Mount Batten, the British Fireworks Championships are held, quite a spectacle, which attracts thousands of people from far and wide.
Having rounded the headland, a steep climb up steps found us at the recently renovated Mount Batten Tower, which guards the entrance to Plymouth Sound. From this spot, the arrival of a Brittany Ferry was sighted rounding the Breakwater on its journey into Millbay Docks. The ferry berth was at one time the site of a Spillers Flour Depot, and it became obvious to all just how large the vessel is when it finally docked.
More ascent took us to Jennycliff, from where we had good views over Plymouth Sound towards the Devonport Naval Base, the River Tamar and Drakes Island. This was our lunch spot, and a chance to drink in the pleasant views all around us. Back on the trail again, we passed a marker stone indicating that Poole in Dorset, the end of the SWCP, was 175.5 miles further on, but that was not our destination today, thankfully! At precisely this spot on the footpath, there is a flag stone set in the ground which is inscribed ‘ Welcome to Plymouth, please wipe your feet’. There is a certain member of the group, absent that day, who always does just that whenever he passes this way.
Soon there was a wooden stairway to firstly descend, then quickly ascend again. Further along the coast path views over to Mount Edgcumbe, Fort Picklecombe, Kingsand, Cawsand and Penlee Point on the Cornish coast become more apparent. Passing the remains of the old fortress at Staddiscombe, we descended to Bovisand, noting a row of former Coastguard cottages on the way.
The beach and sea at Bovisand looked very inviting in the afternoon sunshine, but we did not linger long, or detour to paddle our feet on this occasion. At this juncture we were almost level with the Plymouth Breakwater, which affords some protection from the elements for Plymouth Sound.
Continuing on through the Bovisand Estate, we eventually arrived at Heybrook Bay and after rounding Wembury Point, the path meandered below the former Royal Naval Gunnery School of HMS Cambridge, decommissioned around the year 2000. Soon the Great Mewstone came into view, looking majestic sitting in the turquoise waters. We then encountered a white horse, disguised as a Dalmatian, who was happily feeding in a field beside the path. Looking ahead, the church of St Wemburgh was visible on the hillside, so now our final destination at Wembury beach was just a stones throw away. After a short stroll uphill we returned to our vehicles and the end of our days walk, somewhat weary but mostly contented with the efforts and achievement of the day.
We set off in convoy to travel to the Avon Arms at Avonwick, where various beverages were enjoyed, and memories of the day revisited. The splendid weather had been a bonus, the route varied and interesting, and everyone took away a positive experience from their exploration of this area of the South Hams.
Well done to all, and many thanks to Karen for all her efforts to raise funds for Children in Need, and John L for his much appreciated support in Barry’s absence.