Mandy’s South Hams Saunter – Sunday 2nd June

What a contrast in the weather over two days last weekend. Saturday 1st June was a glorious day, whilst Sunday 2nd June was damp and cool, and not very pleasant at all for anyone contemplating a long walk in the Devon countryside.

Thus just 8 hardy souls gathered at Totnes to travel to Aveton Gifford to undertake Mandy’s Magical Mystery Meander. We had to don wet weather gear before we set off on our exploration, and after a stretch of road walking, began to climb for approximately a mile up a rough, and in the wet conditions, rather slippery track. Once we emerged onto the lane at the top, we soon began to cross fields of long soggy grass. There followed several other fields to traverse, many of which had cattle in them, and as they had young calves in tow, caution was needed to negotiate our way safely through.

The rolling hills of this part of the South Hams area, were mostly shrouded in low cloud, and even though the rain did ease at times, the views were not as far reaching as normal. The route before lunch took us down quiet country lanes, and on occasions through overgrown vegetation in sunken lanes. These were difficult to navigate in the adverse conditions, but everyone coped admirably. The way passed through the village at South Milton, and eventually the sea and the sands of the beach at South Milton Sands became visible through the gloom. This was our lunch stop, but no one wished to linger too long, as a very blustery wind was blowing in off the sea. As we travelled on again, towards Thurlestone and around the edge of the local golf course, the weather became even more challenging. We were battered by a strong wind gusting off the sea, which made the temperatures feel more Wintry than Spring like.

As we descended into Bantham, a few surfers were seen braving the elements in the sea off Burgh Island. Once down near the estuary of the River Avon, things became more settled, though still damp. The route then picked up the Avon Estuary walk, which meandered through woodland and across fields, before ascending the final steep hill of the day. By mid afternoon, the first shadows of the day were seen, and on our return to Aveton Gifford, it was frustratingly warm and dry!

A short car journey followed, but not before one of group finally managed to locate his car keys, which were hidden in his walking boot, from where he also retrieved a £10 note, deposited for safe keeping whilst he removed his wet walking attire!

Finally we reached  the Avon Mill Cafe where refreshments were enjoyed, and everyone relaxed after the exertions of their just over 13 mile jaunt. Many thanks to Mandy for expertly leading us in less than ideal conditions along a very scenic route.

Sally H