Launched October 24th, 1999
Ronald Langereis - 1999 - Amsterdam
Day Seven - Friday, October 22nd
Second hike by the Coast Path - East Prawle to Torcross - 10 m
Visiting Totnes Castle, cancelled
|Now you'll understand why it's called a coast path||Our second and last visit to the Coast Path starts on East Prawle's village-green. Note its pub - without entering it at this time of day. It's named 'Pig's Nose', and inside you'll find its walls covered with dozens of picture postcards, or should I say 'pig-ture' postcards, for there are pigs on all of them.|
The neighbourhood abounds in pig-turesque traits, Ham Stone, another Pig's Nose and Gammon Head. The cape to our right is Prawle Point, the most southern point of Devon. We'll turn our back on it, as we're heading for Start Point to the east.
If the weather allows, we can make a short detour to the white lighthouse of Start Point which dates from 1836. Its name derives from the Anglo-Saxon root 'steort', which in Dutch is spelled 'staart'; another 'tail' on our trail, so to speak.
Well, the weather wouldn't. To Start Point we followed a steadily rising path along the side of the cliff, the slope sharply falling away on our right to the sea and the rocks below. On reaching the promontory I felt the first drops falling from a rapidly darkening sky. Suddenly a flash, and a loud peal of thunder rang. Minke, who outstrips Ruud in length by a hand's-breadth, asked whether he was as worried as she was.
'Not at all,' he replied, 'as lightning always strikes in the highest point.' She was greatly comforted by this.
From Start Point on the path goes north and we'll have a panoramic view of Start Bay, which stretches like a crescent for another ten miles to Dartmouth.
When we climbed the sloping road that leads from the lighthouse to the car park, the rain subsided, only to increase to a regular down-pour when our company had reached the top of the slope and for ten minutes stood huddling together behind a shed donning their wind-cheaters to full avail.
When it cleared, we slithered down a waterlogged path on the cheek of the next hill and reached Hallsands, and the shelter of the 'Trouts', without further difficulties.
The modern part of this village is situated on top of a small mound, as the old village fell prey to the sea at the beginning of this century, when since 1897 a contractor had made a good job of removing the pebble from the shore that till then had protected the coast from erosion.
When we had refreshed ourselves with tea and cake from 'Trouts', only half of the party showed for the last stretch to Torcross. We went by a rather level path that led across meadows and through shrubberies, descending eventually to Beasands, that contrary to what its name implies has a pebbly beach.
The southern shores of Devon and Dorset have mostly pebble beaches. In former times the fishermen of the coastal villages, if they were forced to land their crafts for safety, are said to have been able to tell by the pebbles on which beach they were. The village of Beasands is protected by a modern sea-wall of concrete against the devastating storms from the east.
At the end of the coastal road, we'll round the white solitary house to the left, and turning sharply right again, prepare for a steep climb over the next promontory. Our journey will end in Torcross, a village overlooking a nice lagoon, but always on the alert for the sea. The greater part of it was destroyed twice, in 1951 and in 1979. The new sea-wall, that can be seen on the last but one picture, dates from 1980.
As the waiting half of the party had already saturated itself with tea or bitter and rolls, it was not long before we were commandeered to the waiting vans, which veered us back to Higher Poulston Farm. There we packed our luggage and prepared for our last dinner in the pub.
After the meal, when by the accompanying and liberally poured claret everybody had come into a comfortable and indulgent mood, Ruud spoke the final word as only he can do, telling us casually that our departure the following morning had been set at half four sharp.
Once the groans had died down, we enjoyed ourselves in the bar, where we even danced on live music from before 'the times they are a-changing'.
|In single file to the next stile. Ah, the art of jumping stiles, a trick these cows will never know the gist of|
|And while you're minding the next stone to put your foot on, there's always the sea|
|A naturally secluded spot, an amphitheatre almost, for watching the silent chorus of fungi|
|Close-up of the dramatis personae|
|The stretch we walked sofar. Further on the weather went bad and at the lighthouse of Start Point a rainstorm developed with sudden peals of thunder|
|Still a little dripping from the rain we found shelter in the tea room of 'Trouts', a compound of holiday apartments and cottages at Hallsands|
|For part of the company, the wary of way, it all ended here,|
|while they were waiting for the vans to be driven into the neighbourhood,|
|to pick them up and take them to Torcross|
|The undaunted sipped their tea, decided to carry on, rain or shine, till the utmost end|
|These are Mrs. Jill Norman and her touchingly lovely assistant Kelly, who waited upon us at 'Trouts'. I sent them a copy, of course, or rather even two|
|Beyond Beasands, a final stretch of road along the beach, before the path would climb for the last time|
|The desolation of Torcross boulevard. It's done. The legs may be stretched and the boots undone. Miep's pensively clutching the rough stick she made for a replacement|
|Totnes Castle, of which we only saw flashes through the windscreen of the ever speeding vans|
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