Walk #324: Torquay to Coleton Camp
Map of the walk
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format. For a detailed table of timings for this walk, please see the table file.
Sam walked with me for the first couple of miles as far as Paignton Station, which was nice as we could have a good chat as we went along. Sam left me to go to the station to catch a train back to Torquay as I continued on, but unfortunately the first train was due in the early afternoon so she decided to walk back to the van. Paignton looked very nice in the early morning sun, and the sea looked glorious, although I must admit that I would not like to have gone swimming in it, unlike one brave soul that I saw swimming near Paignton.
Paignton is the terminus of the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam railway, who run services along the old railway line from Paignton (which is also a National Rail Station) to Kingswear, where there is a ferry across to Dartmouth on the other side of the river. I rode on this line many years ago, and it was a lovely journey with some great views available over beaches such as Goodrington Sands. This route followed the line for quite some distance, although unfortunately no trains were running on it today, as it was the winter season.
Brixham was absolutely lovely, and I sat down on a bench by the statue of William of Orange so that I could eat my sandwiches. Nearby was a replica of Francis Drake's ship, the Golden Hind, which is the second replica of the ship that I have seen on the journey so far - the first was on the South Bank of the Thames in London. The town was very busy, and the marina was filled with boats of all shapes and sizes. I quite liked the town, particularly the way the houses are built up the hillsides, and I wish that I could have spent more time there. For nearly three hundred years until 1900 Brixham was the largest fishing port in England, supplying fish to London, but this trade has now mostly died out.
Navigation today was easy, particularly when using the excellent 1 to 25,000 maps in the Ordnance Survey guidebooks. One annoying thing is that in Paignton and Brixham there were no fingerposts indicating the way, and instead they use little circular metal South West Coast Path symbols on the ground. These are only a couple of inches in diameter and are quite hard to see when you need them and are always spotted when you do not. Fingerposts are much more obvious, although that could well be why they are not being used in the middle of a busy tourist town. The studs, however, seemed pointless to me - they may as well not have bothered, although I daresay others may well differ about their usefulness.
I was quite amazed by the large amounts of litter that were on the beaches at Elberry Cove and Churston Coves. They were absolutely covered in large amounts of mainly plastic debris, including large drums. Apparently the prevailing winds have been driving debris onto the beaches for the last ten days, which is a shame as the visually intrusive debris spoilt the views. It is hard to know what can be done about this - whilst some of the debris as obviously come from the land, some of the other debris has obviously been thrown overboard off ships and has been swept onto the beaches from far out to sea. I have heard that in some laces occasional volunteer beach cleaning groups are convened to clean beaches - I do hope they do that for these beaches soon as they were really a mess today.
I had intended to try to walk as far as Kingswear, but at nineteen miles of sometimes strenuous walking I realised that this might be too much to do today. By the time I reached Brixham it was obvious that this was correct, so I arranged to meet Sam at the car park at Coleton Camp. This involved a long walk inland, but it was probably the nearest place to meet her to the coastal path. Tomorrow I shall have to walk back to the coastal path before commencing the walk to Kingswear and then on to Totnes along the River Dart, which will unfortunately involve some road walking along main roads. Just before I reached the car park I met a couple of ladies who had met Sam and told me that she was worried about where I was, so I decided to try and get a move on to reach her quickly.
This makes a total distance of 15.0 miles, with 3419 feet of ascent and 2917 feet of descent.
We decided that we could not stay in the car park where we ended this walk, so we drove into Kingswear to find somewhere to park on the road for the night. Unfortunately as I feared there was very little parking to be had in the town, so we decided to drive into Brixham and park there.
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And finally, enjoy your walking!
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