A chilly Sunday with Storm Atiyah forecast for later as 11 walkers set off to East Devon, prepared for the worst.
In the event, Atiyah waited and only two sharp showers descended on the group who enjoyed a lovely walk. East Budleigh is most famous as the birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh and surprisingly is noted in history as a port, long before the River Otter silted up. This could explain the propensity in the area for flooding.
The village is very picturesque with charming thatched properties not to mention the Sir Walter Raleigh Inn, formerly the Kings Arms, dating back to the 16th Century. Walter was born just outside the village at Hayes Barton, in 1552, the property being leased to his father at that time. There are 60 listed properties in the East Budleigh area.
We parked near the Village Church which dates back to Saxon times and set off towards Coleton Raleigh, west of the Otter and mentioned in the Domesday Book as having ‘20 villagers, 8 smallholders and 6 slaves’.
A stop for refreshment just beyond the walls of Bicton College and Mill Water School and then on to the River Otter which we walked alongside to Otterton. Signs advise us that the beavers introduced in 2015 are thriving and now thought to be 25-30 in number. We could see evidence of their existence in the gnawed wood but sadly no actual beaver on view today, other than our very own walking Beevers, of course.
Lunch was taken near Otterton Mill, which provided shelter as a sharp shower passed across. We then continued along the river before turning inland, over the old railway line which was part of the Budleigh Salterton Railway (BSR) which branched from the Sidmouth Railway at Tipton St Johns and opened in 1897. The station was renamed East Budleigh in 1898, closed in 1967 in line with Beeching’s ‘reshaping of British Railways’.
We arrived back in East Budleigh just in time to beat the final shower, making our way past Drake’s School, originally a charity school, built of Victorian red brick in 1860 with separate sections for boys and girls, as was normal in those days.
We swiftly made our way into Sir Walter Raleigh’s hostelry for drinks in the warm and festive atmosphere, emerging only when the rain had stopped.
Just under 7 miles completed and storm Atiyah didn’t catch us!