Walking the south-west coastal path

Torquay Holiday – July 2023

Twenty nine of us returned to the Derwent Hotel where we last stayed in 2016. Plus 4 more in local B&Bs. We soon found our way around the maze of passageways to the Aztec Zone where leisure facilities are available for all 4 hotels in the complex.

Peter booked the Madison Suite for our exclusive use throughout the holiday. This was a large meeting room in the adjacent Carlton Hotel, accessed through the Aztec Zone.

The group split into 2 main groups each day. On Saturday both groups walked from the hotel east to Thatcher Point before heading north to Babbacombe for ‘B’ party (led by Peter) and Maidencombe for ‘A’ party (led by Greg). This first day was hillier than I remembered from 2016! The ‘A’ party enjoyed lunch on the beach at Babbacombe before finding shelter at the beach kiosk due to a passing shower. We finished, after 9 miles, at the pub in Maidencombe before climbing ‘Steep Hill’ to the bus stop on the main road.

We made good use of the various entertainments available in the hotel and the Aztec Zone during our stay. We enjoyed Ten-pin Bowling on a couple of nights and Floor Curling in the ballroom of the adjacent Victoria Hotel. Plus the usual games of Pictionary and Uno, and a couple of quizzes.

On Sunday we took the bus to Maidencombe to walk to Dawlish, with more ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ along the Coast Path. ‘A’ party was the largest group again and ‘B’ party caught up just as we finished our elevenses stop. ‘A’ party split before Shaldon which made crossing the River Teign in the fishing boat easier. We joined together again for lunch on the front in Teignmouth. We then enjoyed the flattest walking of the week following the sea wall alongside the main railway line, before climbing again. Most finished, after 7 miles, in Dawlish with afternoon tea at a beach kiosk in Coryton’s Cove. A small ‘A+’ group continued along the sea wall to Dawlish Warren while the ‘B’ group finished near Holcombe.

Throughout the week, we were woken early by the noisy seagulls, who tapped at the windows of some guests. On one evening, Steve discovered a Magpie in his room!

Due to the poor forecast for Monday, a change of plan meant we did another local walk from the hotel, this time heading south to Paignton and east to Brixham. Overall this was the least hilly walk of the week. The ‘A’ party was again the largest group. We enjoyed elevenses at Goodrington Sands before a wet lunch at Elberry Cove. We finished, after 8 miles, in Brixham with a welcome afternoon tea at the Chart Room in a setting which mirrors the First Class Dining Rooms aboard Ocean Liners of the Early 20th Century. The ‘B’ party finished at Broadsands.

Tuesday was the day off from walking. Many of the group took the steam train from Paignton to Kingswear and crossed the River Dart by ferry to Dartmouth. A few then caught a fishing boat to Dartmouth Castle, while others caught a ferry in the opposite direction to Dittisham before heading back across the Dart to the National Trust property at Greenway where Agatha Christie spent her summers.

Some guests made good use of the Aztec indoor swimming pool during our stay. The cool temperature meant there was no stopping between lengths!

On Wednesday, an early start was required to catch the bus to Kingswear. Both parties walked to Brixham but by completely different routes. The ‘A’ party followed the Coast Path via the Coastguard Station at Inner Froward Point, with lunch at Scabbacombe Sands and afternoon tea at the café on Berry Head. This was the most rugged and strenuous walk of the week, 11 miles with 3,000’ of ascent. The ‘B’ party followed the Dart Valley trail to Higher Greenway, passing a large basking Adder on the way! The route then followed the John Musgrave Heritage Trail, finishing in Brixham after 7 miles. Some returned by ferry to Torquay while others caught the bus.

On Thursday, we split into 2 distinct groups, with ‘A’ party driving 27 miles to Malborough and ‘B’ party catching the train to Newton Abbot. The ‘A’ party walked what is regarded as the most spectacular section of the whole South West Coast Path via Salcombe, Sharp Tor, Bolt Head and Hope Cove. Just before lunch Steve started lagging behind which was due to the sole of his boot coming adrift! After some ingenious repair work, Steve was able to complete the walk without too much problem. We enjoyed our 4th afternoon tea of the week at Hope Cove House before a short walk back to Malborough. It was a long drive back to Torquay, having got stuck in a 3 mile traffic jam around Totnes! The ‘B’ party walked from Newton Abbot to Shaldon along the Teign estuary. To quote Chris R ‘It was a bit stinky in places’! The ‘B’ party had atmospheric views and crossed the Teign in a fishing boat (as per Sunday’s walk), to finish with afternoon tea in Teignmouth.

Thanks to Peter, all the walk leaders and everyone on the holiday for making it a superb trip.

Greg

Photos

Maps of the walks

Torquay to Maidencombe

Maidencombe to Dawlish

Torquay to Brixham

Kingswear to Brixham