A slightly chilly start but a good forecast for the group of 16 today, setting off from East Prawle car park. As it happened, two other walking groups had the same idea and it was certainly crowded – the normally quiet village must have wondered why the walking world had descended on them!
We set off down the road and soon picked up the coast path to make our way to Lannacombe. The views were stunning on this rugged part of the coast. Lannacombe’s most famous resident, singer Kate Bush, did not appear to greet us today from her cliff top home, reputedly purchased in 2005 for £2.5 million and in 2014 said to be precariously positioned, due to cliff erosion.
We enjoyed tea and a welcome break on the beach below, basking in glorious sunshine and some even took to the water – paddle only!
We carried along the coast path a while then turned inland before Start Point, taking the path towards Hallsands where once again we could visit the remains of the community that ‘disappeared into the sea’ in 1917. Prior to that it was a thriving fishing village with 128 inhabitants, protected by a large pebble ridge, laid down during the Ice Ages. One night the easterly storm winds caused the waves to surge over the ridge. It lasted two days and by the end 37 homes were destroyed along with a store and the pub, The London Inn. Dredging for Plymouth dockyard was said to have undermined the protecting ridge over many years. This has since been banned in order to ensure the other shingle beaches and fishing communities along this part of the coast do not suffer the same fate.
We took lunch on Hallsands beach a little further on and again enjoyed the warm autumn sunshine, bright blue sea and clear skies, a walkers treat, over half way through their route today.
The inland trek involved retracing our steps back to what was once Trouts Hotel. The Trout family, William, Eliza and their 4 daughters were made homeless in the 1917 storm and re-housed at the top of the cliff. Patience and Ella Trout successfully turned the house into a hotel, a rags to riches story for a while. The Hotel fell into decline and has since been converted to flats but Frank Trout, son of sister Clara, the only one to marry, still lives in Devon and has recounted their story in his book ‘Sisters against the Sea’.
We took the inland path here, which soon became very steep.
Upwards and onwards we walked, rewarded for the climb by panoramic views back down the valley. A breather and a look back to the coast briefly before we made our way down to East Prawle again and some enjoyed tea, cakes and ice-creams in the late afternoon sunshine outside the Piglet Cafe.
An excellent walk of nearly 11 miles, led by Heather and Martin on another glorious Devon Day.