By popular demand …..I’m back to the original format. Sorry for the confusion and sorry Claire (at least I tried). Enough fiddling eh!
Stage 10 2nd March: Holcombe to Goodrington 17.8m
Overnight my driver for the week, cousin Mike, was not a well bunny and I suspect that I may have given him something, though he kindly suggests it was the burger from yesterday that did it. Hence Jane drove me an hour round the Exe estuary for my restart and vowed to pick me up and return me to Exmouth for a bonus night of top quality lodgings. I do feel as if this bad penny has out-stayed his time, though both Mike and Jane have made me feel exceptionally welcome.
The walk to Goodrington started well even though my toe was still nagging at me from last week, despite a professionally applied Compeed. The trek round to Torbay via Babbacombe was very up and down but as I arrived in Torquay the heavens opened and my determined aversion to wearing waterproofs to date was proving to be a mistake. By the time I reached Paignton, I was soaked through every layer with only my windshirt still doing its job by keeping hypothermia at bay. I was a little early for Jane so I cowered in a shop for a few minutes to seek some warmth. A sausage roll purchase was a slightly pathetic excuse to hang about and warm up for a while but it didn’t really help as stopping had cooled me down considerably. By the time I stepped outside to complete the last few hundred yards my whole body was seriously beginning to shiver. A few lessons learnt today!
Stage 11 3rd March: Goodrington to Stoke Fleming 18.6m
With Mike feeling much better, we headed out a little later than planned but I was confident that I’d have plenty of time to beat the end of day light. For the first time in over a week my toe was mildly comfortable and I cracked on at a good pace. With warnings in my ears about the number of climbs I should have expected yesterday, I was half expecting today to be a little easier with Brixham as a nice easy starter. But no – not one bit. Though long climbs weren’t an issue, the sheer number of smaller ones was enormous – and they just kept coming. One after another, steeply up, steeply down and very little flat to allow me to stride onwards. Many of them seemed utterly unnecessary as I’m sure I could have contoured round if the guy who made the path had been a little cleverer with his pick and shovel. There were several occasions when I was convinced he was having a joke at my expense and in not so polite terms, I told him so – several times!
The entrance to Dartmouth harbour (photo) looked more like the gates of Mordor than I was expecting but it could have been my dark mood as I was utterly cream crackered by the time I arrived in Kingswear. I wandered into the Post Office for some sweeties and managed to knock an entire display of Pot Noodles flying across the shop floor with my stick. The shopkeeper huffed and puffed as she shuffled her not undersized frame under the counter and I’m sure she actually growled at me as I left to catch the ferry over to Dartmouth.
Another swift 4 miles around to Stoke Fleming saw me arrive well after 6pm and barely beat the last ray of sunlight left in the sky. However, greeting me was a very welcoming log fire, a comfy armchair and a rather nice pint in The Green Dragon which allowed me time to tot up a total of over 4,700 ft of ascent today. A good day. Just a shame we had to go back to the van.
Stage 12 4th March: Stoke Fleming to Salcombe 18.9m
Up very early and away by 8am, I was down on Slapton Sands by 9am and greeted by the local constabulary and a bomb disposal team (photo) who were cordoning off a section of the beach where a piece of WW2 ordnance had been found. Bearing in mind that this was the beach where 946 US soldiers were killed when the Germans ambushed their training exercise from torpedo boats lurking in The Channel, I was curious as to whether it was German or Allied ordnance.
I flew down Slapton Sands and a gentle climb via the Lost Village took me round to Start Point. A sharp turn West around Lannacombe Bay brought me to a once valuable house perched precariously on the edge of a cliff with its gate posts hanging in mid-air. Lannacombe Cottages have their own name on the map – not for much longer I suspect.
I then raced around the cliffs which, after yesterday, felt fairly level – even though my end of day stats would say otherwise. On reaching East Portlemouth I briefly waited for a very lonely ferry to wind its way over to pick me up and head for Salcombe, and a meeting with Mike. He seemed to have had a much more interesting day than me just trying to find a new water hose to replace the naff one I bought 2 weeks ago to top up the bus’ bathing and drinking reservoir. From my recollection of the story it involved several ferry trips and considerable bartering skills to acquire anything under £50 from exclusive looking chandlers used to selling top of the range gear to wealthy weekenders with their yachts parked up outside their second home.