70 Mile Circular Challenge!

Brian Golding

The East Devon Way came to my attention shortly after I moved to Sidmouth, 15 years ago. I found that the sections east and west of Sidbury formed very enjoyable round walks when combined with the Coast Path from Sidmouth.

A few years later, having achieved a 60 mile walk along the Coast Path from Sidmouth to Weymouth, I realised that a single round walk of the whole East Devon Way and the East Devon part of the Coast Path might be possible on a single outing, given perfect weather in mid-summer.

I waited 6 years for a dry summer and it finally arrived. Due to other commitments, I had to wait until 17th July to make the attempt, and even then I had to go with a low risk of showers.

I set off at 2:05am, using a torch to assist me until Beer. I reached Lyme at 7:30am then headed back to Sidbury with a couple of detours off route at Bulmoor, where the path has disappeared, and at Colyton, where it was closed for repair. Reaching Sidbury at 2:30pm, it was hard to set off up the path to White Cross, which was also rather overgrown above Goosemoor.

Heading through Harpford Woods, the promised shower arrived, but I only heard it - the rain never penetrated the canopy. The gentle gradients of Aylesbeare Common and Woodbury Common were a nice change from the steeper slopes further east, but I managed to miss the route on the edge of the quarry south of Woodbury Castle, picking up a bit of unplanned road walking there.

I got into Exmouth at 8:45pm, having slipped 45 minutes behind schedule. At this point I had to leave behind my last chance of a backup by bus, and soon had to switch the torch back on as well.

The final steep climbs up towards Peak Hill were a bit of a sting in the tail, but I finally reached home at 1:50am, completing the walk of 70 miles and 7000 ft climbed in just 15 minutes under 24 hours. So I managed to prove to myself that it is possible... and now leave it to others to show that it can be done in a much shorter time!