East Devon Way Stage 3 – Hare and Hounds to Newton Poppleford:
15 people, including two new walkers, plus George the dog got off the bus at the start of the walk at The Hare and Hounds, Putts Corner. After a quick safety briefing, we set off single file along a half mile stretch of road as cars whizzed by until we came to the start point of this stage of the East Devon Way (EDW).
The sun was shining but it was a humid day particularly in Knapp Copse that, despite the recent dry spell, had a flowing stream. We stopped for lunch with an expansive view overlooking Sand: an historic house and gardens; none of us had visited it but were interested in doing so – have a look at http://www.sandsidbury.co.uk/ for information and opening times.
We had a steep descent through Buckley Plantation down a loose chert-filled path – David slid down but was uninjured. At the bottom of the path, we met a stile: Heather and Paul climbed over it, Jackie decided that she would go through the two bars … Heather and Paul encouraged her to go lower so that her rucksack would go under the top bar only to see the bar go up – it was hinged! With the top bar hinged back, the remaining 12 people and George had an easier time going over the stile!
We strolled into Sidbury: some went to the public toilets, some sat on a bench in the shade and some took the opportunity to look in St Giles Church which has a 7th century Saxon crypt, open every Thursday afternoon in summer when guided tours take place. As Anne had another appointment later in the day, she left us at this stage.
Having ascended Beacon Hill, we needed a 10-minute stop to gaze over Harpford Common and Sidmouth to the sea. George made the most of a water-filled bath (trough for cows) twice whilst the rest of us looked on enviously! As we entered Harpford Wood, we were told that there was a frightened horse loose on the path ahead – Paul was told to go to the fore whilst others talked of horse-whisperers: we didn’t see the horse. We descended into Harpford, passed the Grade II listed St Gregory the Great Church, crossed Harpford Bridge and back to the Recreation Ground in Newton Poppleford.
The 10-mile walk on the EDW was well sign posted in this direction except for the entry into Harpford Wood. As usual with dogs on a walk, George probably went twice as far as the rest of us … 20 miles in that heat and humidity would have been too much!
Photo by Stella French