Wayward Wanderers Walking Group

Norman Lockyer Observatory, Sidmouth-Weston-S W Coast Path

March 01, 2010, prb, Comments: 1

Unexpectedly, afternoon turned out fine

The previous day's forecast for torrential rain and strong winds having come to nought, the walk took place as planned, although even up to mid-day it did not look too promising.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained...  It is evident from the photos that those taking part enjoyed an afternoon of views and weather much better than anyone might have expected.  And this walk deserves clear visibility, for the views are truly stunning.

Starting out from the car park opposite the Observatory, we first walked down the steeply sloping road for a few hundred metres before turning off to the north onto a woodland path running along the contours of the scarp through Salcombe Hill Woods.  This was followed as far as the old packhorse route Milltown Lane, before the path started the climb back up the scarp, to emerge into the open at the rear of the Observatory estate.

From there we cut back down to the road, then the route took us into the woodland on its seaward side. This stretch was notable for our sighting of a pair of small deer.   A decent distance away from the road and the route turned to run parallel with it, eventually joining it again just above Salcombe Regis (so called for the salt-making that once took place at Salcombe Mouth).  Down into the village and the group paused to look at the church, a pause that grew slightly longer when it started to rain. 

Shower over, from there the route took us towards Dunscombe on the lane for a short length, but soon we spurred off onto a footpath through the fields to the north.  A kilometre of this and we came to the entrance to the Donkey Sanctuary.  Past its car park, we took a field dog-leg to skirt the charity's building complex and put us on the road for Weston.  Curiously and unusually, there were no donkeys grazing in the fields.

We took this lane until we came across the small car park on the right.  Passing through this, we then took the track leading gently downwards and seawards, along the eastern side of Weston Combe.  The gradient downhill steepened as we came closer to the sea, and the last stretch entailed some steps leading to the stony beach.  Although this loss of elevation would have been avoided it we could, there was no other way of getting to the west side of the Combe, so onto the beach it was.  

There followed one of the more gut-busting stretches of the walk, and indeed of this part of the coast path, the climb up hundreds of steps to the field on the cliff above the beach.  The climb did not end there, for our way out of the field was itself upwards.  Eventually, though, we emerged on the top of the Lower Dunscombe Cliff, to a stretch that is relatively unknown, and which for that reason is one of the most peaceful stretches of the coastline in this area.    It offers good views too.

The path soon took a turn inland as the small combe at Lincombe was reached, so there was more downhill followed by more climb up, to the Higher Dunscombe Cliff.
At Lincombe, incidentally, is the most westerly outcrop of chalk in Britain, and signs of the activity associated with it are still apparent.
There followed another fairly level cliff-top plateau as far as Salcombe Combe, and again the group had to negotiate a steep downhill followed by a very steep stepped climb up the west side of the combe.

Two members however opted out of that climb, and one can understand why, choosing instead to take the gentler route inland towards the village, and back out again.  Luckily the two parties met up again some while later and all posed together for photos by the Frogstone,  a large boulder that apparently reached this resting place having been manoeuvred up from the beach as part of an exercise by the Army. 

If you study the photo carefully you can see why it is so called!

Shortly after this landmark, and as Sidmouth's sea-front came into view,.....

 ...........our path led inland, and back to the cars. 

Thanks to Sara-Jane, assisted by Tony's GPS for finding and leading this seriously strenuous walk.  

In all some 6.5 miles was covered, with a total ascent of  501 metres - so this walk was by far the most strenuous of the series of energetic walks the group has run since the beginning of the year!  For those interested the route has been posted on GPSies


Comments: 1

March 08, 2010

Some of the photos are awesome..! As I not-so-good-eyesight person these days I find red print very difficult to read Happy walking mes amies!

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