Well, five of us set off from Exmouth on March 24th 2018 (birthday girl Jules; Mike; Claire; Neil and me, Mark) leaving our essential Support Services (Gill) to meet us as pre-arranged locations, however due to the necessary evil that is work, only three made it to the end at Lyme Regis on Monday 26th.
Following a wet, snowy winter, such is the weather in our region, we were kitted for the worse, but despite it being a damp Saturday morning as we left Exmouth behind, it didn’t actually rain. The views were particularly atmospheric across the estuary towards the mist shrouded Haldon Hills.
Living in Exeter, much of the Day 1 route to Harpford was familiar and as the weather improved we all took the climb out of Lympstone onto Woodbury Common in our stride. Despite the damp weather, Gill (Support Services) had laid out a picnic on the bonnet of the car at Woodbury Castle and we eagerly tucked in. Having refreshed our water bottles we made our way around the Castle and … well, we could have been in Africa had it been about 400C warmer! The winter grasses spread before us looked like yellow savannah grasses and the sparse trees could have been mistaken for acacias. Only the giraffes and lions were missing!
Next over Colaton Raleigh Common and Hawkerland Valley towards Joney’s Cross, but before getting there poor Neil found himself up to his shins with both feet in a particularly soft clay mire, right in the middle of the track. His boots came out a wonderful shade of yellow that I’m sure would have glowed had it been dark. It certainly made the rest of us laugh all the way to the jelly babies and wine gums at Joney’s Cross.
On the trail took us, over Aylesbeare and Harpford Common’s, through the orchards north of Newton Poppleford before crossing the very wet fields either side of the River Otter and then Harpford, our Day 1 goal [13.8 miles] – which proved to be enough for Claire and Neil, although the fact they had to go to work played a significant part in that decision.
Jules, Mike and I had planned to complete the rest of the route on Monday as Sunday we were out to lunch to celebrate Jules’ birthday, but our progress had been slower than expected, so we decided that a short walk on Sunday was necessary in order to reduce the outstanding distance by a couple hours, so with Gill lined up to meet us we headed to Sidbury. This took us up and over Beacon Hill and White Cross, before a long decent down into Sidbury [4.7 miles].
Monday started beautifully. Sunny skies with a real spring feel in the air – perfect for the anticipated 22 miles. From the off the steep climb up onto Buckley Plantation set the scene for the day – certainly not a walk in the park! It was again very wet under foot, but the views were worth it. Expansive views across Church Green, Farway and Northleigh more than made up for several sections of this part of the route are in lanes, requiring a degree of traffic awareness. Eventually we arrived in Colyton, where lunchtime refreshment was enjoyed in the beer garden of The Kingfisher.
We’d been very disciplined and had resisted the temptation to visit more pubs on and close to the route, and it proved tempting that the next section passed the front door of The Golden Hind, Musbury. In the event it was closed, so there was no chance of a rest before tackling the climb up to Musbury Castle. The descent on the other side is as rapid as the previous climb and with no coast in sight it could only mean one thing – another climb. This time to Bullmoor Cross, then across to Woodhouse Lane, the downhill road that runs into Uplyme and offers views across to valley floor to the Cannington Lane Viaduct.
The path was now well worn by the local dog walkers and pleasantly follows the River Lim into Lyme Regis and a stroll along Marine Parade to The Cobb Arms for a well-deserved fish and chip supper, rounded off with a good local cider – perfect end to a lovely days walk [22.8 miles].
Total distance: 40.5miles