Neil’s Sharkham Circular – Sunday 25th November

A chilly start for the 17 walkers today, as Neil led us along the coast path towards Mansands. A steep but curving ascent initially warmed everyone up and once up on the path, the views were stunning, despite the grey skies.

More ‘undulations’ to follow but we came down the tricky slope, taking care to use the footholds,  to Mansands for tea break. We sheltered from the wind, behind the lime kiln which was built to create lime for agricultural fertiliser, near the coastguard cottages – built by Napoleonic prisoners of war, now holiday rentals of course.

In 1985, rising sea levels made it necessary to put up steel gabions to protect the farmland behind Mansands. In 2004, however, the National Trust decided to remove these wire baskets of rocks and let the sea flow inland and re-establish the wetlands, which had been drained in order to create the farmland. The resultant environment is one of the country’s fastest-changing habitats as a result, and a haven for ducks and waders.

We carried on up the considerable hill to find ourselves eventually at Scabbacombe Beach, an inspection of which revealed a disappointing collection of plastic waste, all over the sands. A small and somewhat futile gathering was undertaken by a few ramblers but it was felt that tides and wind made this cove a haven for such deposits, sadly and efforts were in vain.

We climbed that hill again and turned inland to pick up the path coming from Mansands Beach, a sheltered spot in one of the two car parks –  offering a bench no less! – for our lunch.

From here we walked down through the field, the bemused sheep eyeing our progress, then uphill again, but Neil promised it would be the last of the day!

An honest leader for once, as we ambled back to our cars but not before looking at Woodhuish, a Victorian Farm with it’s 19th Century restored cider press.

Just over 6 miles covered but what it lacked in distance it made up for in gradient! Very well led by Neil who also kept the rain at bay. A nice welcome, warmth and variety of cakes were enjoyed at the Brixham Breakwater cafe afterwards.