24. Exmouth to Torquay

It had been 4 months since I had last walked along the SWCP, primary due to the stormy weather battering the South West over the Winter months. I had not been idle though and continued walking along the Icknield Way through Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

Today was going to be a tough days walk, with a hot sun and terrain that rose and fell over almost 20 miles. I had parked in Torquay and then caught a National Express coach to Starcross, on the banks of the River Exe, opposite Exmouth. The Exe Valley Way ends where the SWCP continues at the Starcross Ferry jetty. I continue down the A379 for a short distance before turning off at a much quieter road at the village of Cockwood. The minor road runs along the main South West railway line. However, no trains have run along this section for months following the devastating effect of recent storms. I pass through Dawlish Warren and there I could have normally walked along the top of the breakwater, however, because of the construction work  the Path stays on the road and away from the railway line right to the other side of Dawlish.

As I enter Dawlish I can see an extraordinary amount of construction activity  repairing the railway line. I can see that the work is not far completion and is quite amazing the progress that has been made since the devastation seen in the news footage which showed part of the line washed away. I walked under cliffs of Permian red sandstone and Breccia and onwards to Teignmouth. Looking back long the Devon coast I can see an extraordinary distance back towards Budleigh Salteron and Sidmouth.

At Starcross looking towards the mouth of The Exe
Looking towards Dawlish and the reconstruction of the railway line
Work extends to the main road
A more peaceful part of Dawlish
Red sandstone at Dawlish
Looking back at Dawlish

I enter Teignmouth and use a short ferry service across the River Teign. I land at Shaldon Beach and follow the path around to The Ness. The next 3.5 miles is along a demanding switch back section of the path, hugging the steep cliff edge into Babbacombe Bay. At St Marychurch, the path cuts inland a short distance before returning to the cliff edge. I have now entered into the outskirts of Torquay. At Oddicombe I pass under the cliff railway, which is doing a brisk trade as passengers are whisked up and down to the beach. Soon after I ascend the steep hill above the Cary Arms. I lose the path as from this point into the centre of Torquay the signage becomes almost non-existent and I am frustrated by many ‘blind-alleyways’ that result in numerous back tracking. It’s the last thing I need after such a strenuous walk. Eventually I emerge into Torbay and can now see Brixham across the Bay. Torquay on this bright sunny spring day is very busy and I continue across the marina bridge and along the sea front to my hotel.

Arriving at Shaldon Beach after crossing the River Teign
The switchback route ahead
Cliff railway at Oddicombe
Major rockfall above Oddicombe Beach
Looking towards Thatcher Point from Meadfoot Beach Torquay
Unusual route for SWCP
Crossing the marina bridge in Torquay

Distance today = 19 miles
Total distance =   375 miles



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