After the biblical rainfall of the previous night it was anticipated this walk would be wet! At least the 22 walkers who braved the elements were clothing-prepared but in the event, just a sharp hailstorm at the outset, then the skies were kind for the rest of the day.
Karen led the group from the Churston Manor, past the church – once frequented by Agatha Christie – and along ‘very des res‘ Green Lane, before turning down the stony track towards Broadsands Beach, passing Elberry Farm and some momentous puddles. The sun appeared through a watery sky to display the beach and the panorama across the bay to Torquay in a most flattering light, on this winter’s morning.
A convenience stop for some here before we headed across Elberry Common. Karen inserted just one history pause here (a thankful crowd in the keen wind perhaps). The land hereabouts used to belong to Lord Churston. Indeed, The Churston Manor (prev Churston Court) was the Manor House for the estate, owned by the Yarde-Buller family in the 1700’s, John Yarde-Buller becoming Baronet Churston in 1858. The area dates back to Roman times, there is evidence of Viking Raiders and the foundations of Churston Village are Saxon.
In the 1800’s the common was used by Lord Churston for hunting game and the ruins of the gamekeepers cottage and storage shed remain, but although it was a natural adventure playground for children in the 60’s, it is now engulfed by brambles and – heaven forbid – health and safety does not permit access.
The last Lord Churston sold his remaining properties in 1967 and moved to Guernsey, severing all ties with the area.
Down to Elberry Cove now to meet three delayed walkers supping hot drinks near Lord Churston’s Bathhouse. Once more, fenced off for safety reasons but well known to all as his private sea-water bathing house and entertainment venue for guests, in the 1800’s. The beach remains popular in the summer for swimmers, water sports, barbecues – and dogs all year round.
We set off through Churston Woods, a muddy experience today and eventually down to Churston Cove, just in case anyone had forgotten who owned this land!
William, Prince of Orange and his troops passed through Churston Village on their way to London after landing at near-by Brixham and Churston Cove. A great deal of important history that so many are unaware of but the area remains relatively unspoilt and a charming part of the South West Coast Path to explore. Karen commented that she once explored the common and the woods at bluebell time, hid in lime kilns and swam in the sheltered coves with school friends and now enjoyed sharing these memories with children, grandchildren and walking friends alike, having attended Churston School ‘back in the day’ too.
A pleasant coffee break, supplemented with sweeties from Miss Christmas and then through the woods, much decimated since the removal of diseased larch and sweet chestnut trees but nature is claiming it back and with the help of local conservation groups, TBRC included, it should once again be restored to its full woodland glory.
We took the American Path to The Grove today, soon to find ourselves in sunny Brixham for a walk through Battery Gardens, down to the Harbour and out to Breakwater Beach for lunch, overlooking the chilly waters of the Bay.
With rain forecast at 2pm Karen decided a brisk return would be advisable and a thankful group completed nearly 8 miles when we arrived back at The Churston Court again.
Instead of our usual tea-stop, Karen and her band of helpful Elves and Santas provided warmth and nibbles, with mulled wine – courtesy of two Committee Members – and hot drinks-a-plenty.
The raffle was a huge success as ever, most leaving with a little something tucked underarm.
A huge thank you to all who came and supported this annual walk and to the cheery kitchen helpers and a very, very large thank you to someone ‘up there’ who decided the downpour could be postponed until we were all warm and snug inside.
Merry Christmas to all and a Happy, Healthy New Year.
Keep Walking …. !