Hilary’s Plan B Sharpham Excursion – Sunday 13th October

A forecast of more rain after a week that had seen floods and many waterlogged paths, led Hilary to the sensible decision to put Plan B into operation today. Rather than Dartmoor, she opted for a lovely walk along the Dart from Totnes for the 11 Sunday Walkers.

We set off along Baltic Wharf, more houses than boats on view these days. The area was created by dredging in the 1800’s as it was choked by waste washed down the Dart from tin mines on Dartmoor.¬† In 1897 it was occupied by Reeves who imported timber from as far away as Russia and were¬†once the biggest employers in the town. The gravel and sand from the dredging was used for the expanding conurbation called Torbay.

Reeves closed in 1995 and much of the area was sold for development but the small Baltic Boatyard still remains in business.

We took the higher path and rain tracked our progress until Ashprington, where the children’s summer house in the village park was our tea break venue, providing shelter at least, even if somewhat bijou in terms of capacity and seating arrangements.

From here Mandy took the reins and led us on a little used path from Ashprington, down to Bow Creek, where the rain stopped and we viewed the River Dart, engorged and wending its way out to sea today.

A plan to enjoy lunch in the grounds of Sharpham Estate was somewhat thwarted by a locked gate and an anti-social sign advising us that the public were no longer permitted to walk through the estate path.

As no alternative was readily available without a complete turnaround, we decided to risk the wrath of the estate manager and furtively tread the path less travelled today.

Sharpham house seemed particularly quiet, the cafe being closed for refurbishments and we later discovered a silent retreat was in progress. Rather fortunate that we hadn’t opted to take advantage of the outside seating for our lunch break as we don’t really do ‘silent’.

Misdemeanor quickly forgotten, we walked in sunshine from here on, having lunch just off the lower path, later picking up the John Musgrave Trail to follow the Dart back to the Steam Packet Inn, in Tudor times the site of St. Peter’s Chapel, where we enjoyed tea outside on the terrace.

A lovely walk of almost 9 miles in the end and early home for the eleven who braved the forecast to enjoy a day, much drier than anticipated.