Exeter

September 29, 2014

This morning we were leaving Tintagel, so after breakfast we packed up all of our gear. Before heading off to the bus stop we had our photo taken with Liz and Chris. Today’s bus left at 10 am and headed towards Camelford. The driver couldn’t figure out how to sell us tickets for Exeter, but buying all-day tickets worked just as well. In Camelford the driver showed us where to catch the connecting bus to Exeter, which was good because it wasn’t quite obvious, and soon we were on our way again. The bus alternated between zooming along main roads and puttering through villages, and finally after two and a half hours we arrived outside Exeter St. David’s station.

Old building, Exeter

Old building, Exeter

We squeezed out of the crowded bus and looked around. We had Google Maps directions for how to walk to Chris and Ruth’s house, but they weren’t very good. However we had been here seven years ago, and after consulting a lady in the hotel we headed off in the right direction.

Chris and Ruth were waiting for us and served us a lunch of potato leek soup with garlic bread, after we got our boots off, that is. It was nice seeing them again and getting caught up on news. Chris was suffering from plantar fasciitis, so he couldn’t walk very far at all. So Ruth went out for a walk with us, along the path which ran along the River Exe. It went through the outskirts of Exeter and then through some farmland to Countess Wear, where we crossed a bridge and headed back up the other side of the river to meet Chris at Exeter Quay for tea. The afternoon was warm and sunny so we sat outside the café and enjoyed the last bits of summer.

Exeter Quay

Exeter Quay

After returning to their house we sat and talked before having dinner. It was interesting to hear all about their travels and the various walks they had done.

September 30, 2014

After breakfast Chris drove us all to Exmouth, where we and Ruth would start today’s walk. Because of Chris’s sore heel he wouldn’t be joining us on the walk. The walk was a section of the Southwest Coastal Path; it was far away from the other sections we had done so far, but we had already decided that it didn’t matter what order we walked the sections in. On the way there we stopped at Sainsbury’s to buy sandwiches for our lunch.

Last day of summer in Exmouth

Last day of summer in Exmouth

In Exmouth we started right by the ferry which crosses the estuary of the River Exe and headed through the town along the seafront road. It took quite a while before we came to the end of the town, where we started to climb up the headland. This part of the coast is called the “Jurassic Coast” because of the age of the rocks between here and Bournemouth. (Although Matthew pointed out to us that the rocks at the Exmouth end are actually Triassic in age.) The cliffs are made of red sandstone which had been formed by deserts, and occasionally fossils can be seen.

Jurassic Coast monument

Jurassic Coast monument

The walk along this section was quite gentle as we followed the coastline. We walked past Straight Point, which was an active military firing range, and then came across an extremely large caravan park. There must have been at least a thousand caravans, all neatly lined up and down the hillside. Not many of them seemed to be in use, but then it was the end of September.

Pebble art, Budleigh Salterton

Pebble art, Budleigh Salterton

At 1 pm we decided to stop for lunch, so we sat on a bench overlooking the beach in Budleigh Salterton to enjoy the views as well as the sunshine. The beach was made of fist-sized cobbles rather than sand, and so somebody had gathered up cobbles of various colours and made a lot of “rock art”. Included in the art were penguins, kangaroos, a lighthouse, a violin, and even a Canadian flag.

Jacob’s Ladder at Sidmouth

Jacob’s Ladder at Sidmouth

At the far end of the town was the wetland at the mouth of the River Otter. According to the signs it was home to a variety of wildlife, but summer was over and winter migrants hadn’t arrived yet, so there wasn’t that much wildlife today. The next part of the walk had us making a couple of steep climbs but none of them were very long. We finally made it to Sidmouth at 4:30 pm and found Chris waiting there for us at “Jacob’s Ladder”. While we had been walking he had been visiting a friend who lived nearby in an old folks’ home. Before heading back to Exeter we had tea and a flapjack in the Clock Tower café.

October 1, 2014

This morning we had to repack our bags for travelling, which we did after breakfast. We sat and chatted for a while, and then Chris drove us to the station, where our train to London left at about 11 am. We stowed the large pack in the overhead rack and then took our seats for the two-and-a-half-hour journey.

Our route back to London was different than the route we had followed coming from London a week and a half ago. This time we stopped at Bath (or “Bath Spa” as the railway people call it), and we recognized the area around the station from when we finished the Cotswold Way a couple of years ago.

Upon arrival at Paddington we went to the Underground, where we took three trains to get to the Old Street station. At Caroline’s place we found we had forgotten the door code, but after five or six tries Paul finally hit on the right one. We did some laundry, because we were off to the Isle of Skye tomorrow and we had almost nothing clean to wear, and basically lounged around for the rest of the afternoon.

Next: Skye, part 1