The Down Thomas Ramble – Sunday 8th September

On a fine sunny Sunday morning, 17 Torbay Ramblers gathered at the Renney Road lay-by, just outside the village of Down Thomas, in the picturesque South Hams, to begin a 10 mile circular walk.

Almost immediately after leaving the parking area, the route crossed fields of recently harvested cereal crops, to quickly enter Bovisand Lane. On the descent to the coast, the group encountered two horse riders travelling in the opposite direction, as the sunken track headed down past the Bovisand Lodge estate, to the sandy beach where some volunteers were doing a clean. The sea looked very inviting as a refreshment stop was enjoyed, looking out over the Breakwater towards the coast of Cornwall.

On recommencing the walk, Plymouth Sound, with Drakes Island sitting proudly in the centre, loomed large. A group picture was then taken as we rounded Bovisand Bay, with images of the former Napoleonic Fort Picklecombe building, and the quaint fishing villages of Kingsand and Cawsand in the background. The track then swept around the gently undulating South West Coast Path towards Heybrook Bay. The weather was so good, and the  visibility so clear, that the Eddystone Lighthouse, 7 miles out from Plymouth, could be seen from here, as could the Chapel on the top of Rame Head, way off in the distance. From Heybrook Bay, 4 of the walkers took a higher alternate route, to trek through the former Ministry of Defence land at HMS Cambridge, which until its closure in 2001, was a Naval Gunnery School.

Soon the great Mewstone came into view, where the way presented even more opportunities for everyone to take advantage of the abundance of blackberries growing in the hedgerows alongside the path, and to sample the delights that Mother Nature had provided. The travellers then wound their way along a flat stretch to reach the Beach and facilities at Wembury. It was here that a lunch stop provided the opportunity for 3 Belles and 1 Beau to bathe in the waters of the bay. Others simply relaxed in the warmth of the sun, before ascending to the Church of St Werbergh situated beside the cliff path. Some of the walkers visited the Church building, before the climb continued, eventually levelling off above the Yealm estuary, where on the opposite coast path, the beautiful Noss Mayo countryside could be seen.

The way then led to Warren Point, where the track took us inland. Then after a stretch up Warren Lane and across a grassy area, the route passed through well cultivated local allotments to reach the outskirts of Knighton. A short road section passed by the Odd Wheel Inn, and then led up Traine Road, to go through a kissing gate into scrubby fields. Shortly after this the route crossed the Erme Plym Trail, and entered several more fields with a number of stiles for weary legs to negotiate. A minor road was traversed and a herd of docile cattle circumnavigated, before finally the track led down to a footbridge.

One last climb saw everyone arrive at the Mussel Inn in Down Thomas, where a welcome well earned drink awaited. The sun went down as we sat in the garden discussing the pleasures of the days walking, when suddenly it felt much cooler.

Consequently the decision to take the busy, but fortunately not lengthy section of road, back to the waiting vehicles was made. Thanks to Carol for back marking, and to all concerned for being such a joy to lead on a wonderful day out in the glorious Devonshire countryside.

Sal H