This is the final day of our tour of Devon and we both have key priorities. I want a walk that will involve a few stiff climbs to tune up the lungs and legs for our trip to the Yorkshire Dales in a few weeks time. Whilst Lynnie has her antenna tuned into locating some local ice cream. We agree that Sidmouth will provide an opportunity for both.
It is years since we last visited Sidmouth, I recall it being a stinking hot summers day and the place was absolutely packed and it took us a while to find a parking place. Not wishing to be caught out in this manner again we head for a National Trust car park at the top of Salcombe Hill about a mile out of Sidmouth on the Salcombe Regis road.
I know I have said that we are visiting Sidmouth but our walk begins by walking away from the town. From the car park we join a footpath following the edge of woodland east towards Salcombe Regis.
We carry straight on at a junction of paths to Springcombe and from there we head towards the sea on the path to South Combe Farm. We have visited many stunning spots around the country, but the view from South Combe Farm has to be one of the best.
After the farm we follow the footpath as it climbs uphill, there are various paths that would lead us to the coastal path, but there are big cliffs here and I feel more comfortable walking inland. So our route takes us on the footpath across fields to Dunscombe.
At Dunscombe the footpath leads through a static caravan park and then downhill to Weston Combe. It is very pleasant in the spring sunshine. Eventually the path reaches a gate leading to a steep path down to the beach at Weston Mouth.
This is an amazing spot, miles of shingle beach with very few people about. Most of the other dozen or so people sat on the beach appear to be walkers tackling the South West Coastal Path. This is a good resting place, which ever direction you go from here you have to climb over some pretty substantial hills. We sit on the beach and consume our lunch, discussing the beauty of a spot that you can only get to with a great deal of effort.
Our walk continues by climbing back up the path and retracing our steps through Weston Combe. At a junction of paths we fork right to carry on steadily uphill towards the Donkey Sanctuary.
From the Donkey Sanctuary we take a track on the opposite side of the road leading to the A3052, we cross taking a footpath on the opposite side along a farm track. The path soon veers off between fields before entering woods. We take the path to Knowle House and from there follow a track that runs besides Snod Brook passing by Boswell Farm.
On reaching houses we turn left towards the A3052, at the junction with the main road we turn right and walk on the pavement down to cross the River Sid on the edge of Sidford. Soon after crossing the river we take a turning on the left to pick up a path that passes playing fields besides the River Sid.
This is a pleasant path with a cycleway running alongside and a favourite spot for dog walkers. As we get closer to Sidmouth the path runs alongside the river and enters a popular park. This is all very pleasant. We are not thinking of moving house, but if we were this would be the sort of place that I could hang my hat.
As we exit the park we pass the old toll house. Apparently this was built by the Honiton and Sidmouth Turnpike Trust in 1817 and controlled the eastern entrance to Sidmouth. It is certainly a fine building.
There is now a definite purpose to Lynnie’s walking. She can smell the sea air and is alert to prospect of ice cream. It does not take long to locate the ice cream booth, the variety is the one that Lynnie rejected yesterday in Budleigh Salterton, but these are desperate times!
As we walk along the promenade Lynnie is content with the world in general and her ice cream in particular, but receives a warning from a couple on a bench to beware of the gulls. Immediately one swoops attempting to get a taste of Lynnie’s long awaited and looked forward to ice-cream, which is now guarded fiercely whilst she consumes it.
Our walk out of Salcombe follows the Coastal Path to the east, this has been diverted inland due to landslips and a number of the properties on the cliff edge look to be in danger of losing their gardens. At a junction of paths we turn left and walk along a minor road until we reach the road that leads us to Salcombe Hill. This is steep and gets even steeper when we leave the road to join a footpath taking us to the top of the hill. From here it is a short walk to the car park.
Across the road from the car park is the Norman Lockyer Observatory. The information boards explain that Sir Norman Lockyer (1836-1920) was a campaigner for science education in Britain and helped to found the Science Museum in London, he was also the founder of this observatory and one in South Kensington, for over 50 years he was editor of the journal ‘Nature’ and was Britain’s first Professor of Astrophysics.
There are a number of telescopes on this sight including the Lockyer 6 inch refracting telescope that Sir Norman used to measure the sun’s surface temperature and in 1868 showed that the sun was made largely of hydrogen. He also discovered and named the element helium.
This is a fascinating spot and we could easily spend much longer here, there is a volunteer in one of the buildings and I am sure if we started asking questions we could be here for a longtime, but we need to get back to take the awning down before it starts to rain. My Suunto Traverse shows that our walk covered almost nine miles. It certainly provided the steep hills and Lynnie is pleased that she finally had another ice cream, so our afternoon out has met the required criteria.
To follow this walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 115 – Exmouth & Sidmouth
24th April 2016
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2016)