Apr. 4th, 2017

sawyl: (A self portrait)
Up reasonably early but not so early as to hit Exeter's rush-hour traffic. The journey down to the South Hams was pretty smooth until we reached Loddiswell, where we got caught behind a tractor towing a JCB on a trailer. Fortunately they turned off after ten minutes and the rest of the journey was pretty uneventful. We made it to South Sands by around 10:30 and parked in the National Trust car park up.

We set out on a walk that my dad called "unfinished business" — a walk that he'd failed to finish a few years ago before his hip was replaced.

My mum walking the cliff path above Starehole Bay.

The route followed the familiar pattern of the cliff path round to Starehole Bay and then on towards Soar Mill Cove.

Starehole Bay on a turbulent spring day, with the shadows of the clouds clealry visible on the water. Starehole is famous as the last resting place of the barque Cecilie which struck the rocks off the South Hams in 1936.

Once we reached the top, my dad took the opportunity to consult the map on his iPad...

Long-time readers may notice that the natty fleece he is wearing looks familiar, if so, they might notice that it sports the slogan "NUG VXII, May 2005, Exeter UK" For a conference freebee, it's certainly gone the distance.

...while my mum used the same bench to fish out her bottle of water.

A very characteristic photo of my parents: my dad consulting yet another map; my mum offering either food or drink; and both of them slightly off-kilter!

Rather than go all the way to the Soar Mill, we turned inland at the admiralty signal tower, walked along the road to Higher Rew — where we used to camp every summer we came to Salcombe when I was a child. The road ran parallel to the village of Malborough, high on a hill with its extremely distinctive church spire visible from miles away.

Malborough with the sunlit uplands of Dartmoor in the far distance.

Taking the footpath that leads up through the back of the Higher Rew camping field, we reached Bolt Head air field — once an RAF station and once a regional seat of government, should a nuclear war wipe out the rest of the country. Walking the perimeter, we reached the new — to us — National Trust East Soar car park and followed the path it recommended round the southern edge of the airstrip and then through the woods to reach the back of Overbecks.

A spectacular view of both the gardens of Overbecks, with its magnolia tree in full blossom, and the houses and beaches of Salcombe in the distance.

The gates of Overbecks House, complete with palm trees — something I remember from my earliest visits both to Salcombe and to the National Trust house.


We had lunch in the South Sands Hotel for old times sake before jumping on the sea tractor to catch the ferry to Salcombe itself. My parents were slightly surprised when the ferry went to the new jetty rather than the Ferry Inn steps and more surprised when the ferryman told them the destination had changed 15 years ago!

Salcombe was very much as it ever was: busy with people, although not quite a mid-summer levels, and full of very on-trend fashion shops. There were some survivors from way back when and I was amused to see that the Victoria Inn was not just dog friendly but even went so far as to offer a full-on canine menu, featuring such delights as pig's ears and roast bones! Once we'd done a bit of shopping — more precisely, once my mum had bought a pair of boat shoes and my dad had picked up a free sailing magazine — we walked back along Cliff Road, first to North Sands, and then to South Sands and the car.

We returned to Malborough and found our B&B, which proved to be a large house with a huge kitchen, games room, terrace, several suites of empty rooms, and, if my parents are to be believed, a limited number of working lightbulbs! We went out to try and get food in the village, failed utterly, and went to the Crabshell Inn in Kingsbridge. After a good supper — mum & I had pizza while my dad had soup and a burger — we returned to the B&B, still completely unoccupied, and went to bed, tired but happy.

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