Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Beer Coast Walk

The latest walk up at the Devon Walks site is a short coastal walk starting from the town of Beer.

A shorter walk this is an ideal route for a sunny summer day to combine with time spent exploring the village or on the beach. The walk also returns to Beer via the entrance to Pecorama and the beer Light Railway, this is a great attraction and well worth stopping in for.

Beer is a very picturesque village with a strong fishing, and smuggling, heritage. In addition, the village has been sustained by the Quarry caves that have been in use as since roman times. The caves were only abandoned in the early 20th Century. The great caverns left behind are now open to the public, which offer a trip into history as well as into the Earth.

This walk also takes in the Hooken Landslide. This occurred around 1789 and was caused by the water draining through the porous chalk and greensands of the cliffs being held at the clay like rock below. Here the water is forced sideways causing instability the result of which is the dramatic slippage. At the time crab pots that had been set out at sea in 10 feet of water were found the next day 15 feet above the water due to a ridge in the seabed being pushed up by the movement.

This whole area is part of the Jurassic coast and is world renowned for its fossils. The landslip here exposed many sections of rock, which are still inspected by eager fossil hunters. As you head along the coast path, keep an eye out for the odd stray dino leg!

I hope you all enjoy this route that reminds me how scenic it is to go walking in South Devon

Image remixed with permission from http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/932052

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Cosdon Beacon Walk

A new walk is up at the Devon Walks site. This walk starts from South Zeal and shows off some of the best views of Dartmoor by visiting its second highest peak - Cosdon Beacon.

This area is a real treasure trove of early archaeology. There is a comprehensive article over at http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/cosdon_beacon.htm that details all the sites of interest around Cosdon Beacon.

What strikes me is how the way we view Dartmoor has changed since the Bronze Age when many of the settlements and cairns were first established. To those people this was a rich area where it was possible to live a good life. Flint was available for making tools and the local flora & fauna were rich enough and diverse enough to sustain them.

Those people would have had an intimate knowledge of the land and today we speculate that the beacon had cultural significance to them due to the number of important sites here. To them this was home, a place to respect but also a place in which they were entirely comfortable.

Today we see Dartmoor as something of a wilderness, albeit one that has been tamed to a greater extent. In general, it is somewhere we would venture for a day out but the thought of staying out and sustaining ourselves off the land is incomprehensible. The frequent call outs for the moorland rescue team are a testament to how difficult we find it to stay safe out on the moor.

Over the years our standards of living have improved immeasurably and many of the skills need to survive have been lost. This is completely understandable, as we do not need to worry about our day-to-day subsistence any more. However, as we have become detached from the land and from nature we have lost a little of that connection that was so integral to our ancestors health and well-being.

I do not think it is necessary to abandon modern living and 'get back to nature' and nor do I deny that our lives today are longer, healthier and more enjoyable thanks to modern efficiencies. However, what I would suggest to those that walk in this area is to imagine what Bronze Age life was like. How special is the intimate knowledge of the land that most of us have lost and what can we learn from their lifestyle.

Finally, when you are enjoying the view from the top of the beacon be thankful for modern walking shoes, country pubs and the ability to drive home to a nice warm bed!

For more ideas on walking in Devon, please visit the site.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A trip to Lydford Gorge

Recently I headed over to Lydford Gorge; somewhere I had been past before but not taken the time to stop. As usual, there are so many great opportunities for walking in Devon that it is hard to know which to do first!

  So eager was I to experience the gorge that I actually arrived at the National Trust car park half an hour before it opened. Nor was I the only one looking to make the most of the early morning sunshine. After changing into my boots, the doors were thrown open and in I went.

During the winter there is restricted opening of the Gorge to allow for essential maintenance work, so check opening times before you go. It also meant that the lower river path was closed to visitors, which was a shame for me but provides a reason to go back. As compensation, there is a reduced entrance fee, which felt very fair. 

I headed along the top path looking out over the steep wooded gorge. This is a fun windy path with lots of great views and the odd piece of woodcarving for added interest.

The path also performs a clever trick of disguising the waterfall from you so that as you approach it you don't get a sneak preview. Just before you descent to the waterfall you run alongside a fast flowing stream which feeds the waterfall. Here you can see it rushing towards the edge with no idea of the plummet it is about to experience.

There is a choice of two paths down to the waterfall- short & steep and long & gentle. We opted to go down the short and back up the long path. Had the river path been open you would only need to head down one of these paths.

The waterfall is quite spectacular. At first, it is hard to get a sense of scale, appearing quite small to begin with. However, as you stand below it you can feel the force of the water and realise just quite how powerful it is.

Along from the waterfall on the long & gentle path is the remains of an exploratory mine operation that is now home to several species of bat.

Overall, this was a very pleasant walk. It is not too strenuous and the National Trust facilities add a welcome bit of comfort for a leisurely Sunday morning coffee.

For walkers that are more adventurous there is a longer circular walk that takes in part of Dartmoor before returning through the Gorge over at the Devon Walks site.

Friday, 5 March 2010

A Trip to Hay Tor

Hay Tor is perhaps my favourite location on Dartmoor and home to some of the best Devon walks. The long views and range of interesting walks available from the starting location are what makes it so great to me. And who can resist taking the scramble up the roughly hewn steps to enjoy the view from the top of the tor.

Because of this I decided that a grey and windy February weekend was the ideal time to pack up a rucksack and go and enjoy a picnic at the tor followed by a walk out across the moor.

Arriving at the main car park the visitor centre was open and the many cars suggested that I wasn't the only one who fancied a yomp across the moor. It didn't feel too cold in the car park but once the boots were donned and we'd left the shelter of the low scrubby trees that back onto the car park it was clear that there was plenty of bite to the wind.

We headed up towards the tor and took shelter on it's lee side to enjoy our thick cut sandwiches and chocolate muffins. Having got a bit cold stopping to eat we headed off across the moor at pace to Smallcombe rocks passing one of the old quarries and the granite tramway that used to serve it. The small pond behind the tor was completely frozen over and with that wind showed no sign of thawing any time soon.

We returned to the car park via the tramway, marvelling at the craftsmanship of hewing the rough stone into tram tracks. We also enjoy the company of several Dartmoor ponies who set off at a graceful canter when one of their number was disturbed by a light aircraft.
It's moments such as these that remind you what makes walking in Devon such a special experience.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

North Devon Hospice - Walk for Life

More details about the North Devon Hospice Walk for Life event have been added to the charity walks in Devon page of the site. 

With 8 great walks being led by volunteers from HM Coastguard it is sure to be an interesting day out which will also help raise money for a great organisation. 

This year's list of walks looks great and in some ways it's a shame that you won't be able to take part in them all! For more information on this great event and to enter please head over to the event page on the North Devon Hospice website

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Walking for Charity

There's a new page up at the site dedicated to charity walks in Devon. I will be using this page to keep you all up to date on all the great Devon walks you can attend to help raise some money for charity. 

They say that there's nothing better than getting paid for doing what you love, but how about raising money for charity doing something that you love. Everyone is a winner, the charity gets so much needs funds and exposure. And you get to go for a good walk and get some exposure to the elements (and hopefully nothing else!). 

These charity walks are always great fun with a brilliant atmosphere. They might also get you out on a walk you wouldn't have normally considered. There are some many excellent charitable organisations working in Devon and so many of us walking in Devon that these events can make a real difference to people's lives. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Lost Village of Exmoor - Found!

Insipred by an article on the BBC website about a local historian's quest to uncover more information on the Lost Village of Clicket, we decided to set out and see if we could find it for ourselves, and we did! In fact it was surprisingly easy but is such a lovely walk I wanted to share it with you. However as Clicket is in Somerset I couldn't post it on the main Devon Walks site so am taking a small liberty with the blog to post it here!

The village was abandoned in 1891 and it seems as if the inhabitants made a mutual decision to leave for reasons unknown. To help keep the village still a bit lost my directions are going to be deliberately vague...

We parked in a small village to the north of Clicket. Parking here is limited so please be considerate to local residents. From here head south and you will soon find the footpath to Clicket. We were lucky that there had been some snow overnight and walking through the woods and fields in the snow was absolutly wonderful.

After not too long we came to the footbridge into the village. Here we found some buildings on the route out to the Quarry before heading over the footbridge into the main part of the village. There are the remains of two or three buildings here and it is very interesting exploring their layout and surmising what life may have been like for the inhabitants.We left this area and continued uphill and came to a larger property with a magnificent fireplace.

From here it was a simply walk over the common to return to our car, stopping off at the village pub for a drink first of course.

If you fancy straying over the border please visit my site for more information on walking in Devon

Friday, 29 January 2010

South Devon Walkers Festival

A new page on walking in south devon has gone live at the site with details on the South Devon Walking Festival. Although the dates have been released this years programme has not been announced. Following last year's success we are all eager to see what new treats the organisers have in store for us. 

Walking in South Devon is a real treat and the enchanting blend of countryside and seaside offers many great oppourtunites. In many cases being able to walk out from the seaside towns and away from the crowds provides an enjoable contrast of the two sides to this county's nature. 

With great transport links and easy access to Dartmoor there is a great deal of paths to satisfy the rambler. Newton Abbot, Brixham, Paighton & Torquay all offer lovely walkatunities. Plymouth, the regions largest conurbation is a little harder to set out on a walk from as you have to trapse out through the suburbs. However an urban walk taking in highlights such as the Ho is well worth undertaking as there is much to uncover in the city. 

This cluster of seaside towns makes traversing this stretch of the SWCP very easy in terms of sourcing accommodation. Although you should avoid peak season as prices invariably rise at this time.

For ideas on walking in Devon, visit the site!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

A quick Tour of the Tors

It comes in fits and starts as they say. That's right, another new Devon walk is up at the site. This one is a short walk to a couple of easily reached dors on Dartmoor. This is a great walk for the family who can have fun scrambling over the rocks and tramping over the moorland. 

The natural beauty of the tors is a result of the slow process of weathering that is constantly in action. Dartmoor is a huge expanse of exposed granite. At 368 square miles it is the largest expanse of granite in the UK.

The creation of the Tors started in prehistoric times when the rock was still buried beneath vegetation. Water seeping down into the ground ran along natural cracks and fissures in the rock, eroding them so they became more pronunced. During the ice age freeze-thaw action accelerated this process. Water would freeze and to ice in the cracks and expand as a result, forcing the cracks a little wider and letting in more water. Once the rock was exposed the softer rock around what is now the tors was eroded to dust and what we are left with are the Tors.

After that horrifying, confusing and inaccurate geology lesson you'd probably be glad to get out for a walk on Dartmoor! 

For other ideas on walking in Devon please visit the site!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

New Walk - Westward Ho

A new walk in North Devon has gone up at Devon-Walks.co.uk today. Starting at Westward Ho this walk takes you along the south west coast path around Kipling Tors. This area is named after Rudyard Kipling who took great delight in explore the countryside of the area. 

If you are completing this walk in the summer, it is well worth taking the chance to pop down onto the smooth round boulders of the beach here to indulge in a spot of rock pooling. At low tide the pools here are filled with a huge variety of life including vibrant pink anenomes, hermit crabs and many shrimps. The 'star' attraction is the small soft starfish that can be found on the side of smooth pebbles. As usual with rock pooling please take care to replace rocks and animals where you found them and do not keep anything you collect in a bucket for too long as they can over heat and be starved of oxygen. Also take care of the tides yourself and do not get cut off. 

As the walk heads inland you walk along a quiet country lane which offers excellent views towards Saunton, where the hedges allow! 

Once back at Westward Ho be sure to stop for a famous Hockings ce Cream. They only do vanilla but it is a gold medal winning ice cream that is far more sumptuous than anything you can buy in a shop. Enjoy either as a '99' or as an 'oyster'. For true luxury ask for a dollop of clotted cream on the side. 

For more great ideas about walking in devon visit Devon-Walks.co.uk.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Broadsands to Brixham

Having been left fallow over the christmas period the site doesn't know what's hit it with two new walks in as many days!

Today I have posted another great South Devon walk, this time taking you from Broadsands along to brixham Quay and back. This is a particular favourite walk of mine not only for the fantastic coastal scenery but also for the charming combination of coast and town.

Once at Brixham I am always tempted to visit the Golden Hind replica that works as a visitor attraction in Brixham. Even though I have been before I can't help but want to explore this intruiging story again. This ship is a perfect replica of the vessel that Sir Francis Drake used to circumnavigate the world in the late 1500s. I find a visit to this ship takes me back to an older age. One where walking was a primary mode of trnasport and towns over a days walk away were seldom visited. To imagine a ship travelling completely around the globe would have been inconcievable. In fact to imagine the world as a sphere was still a realativly new idea!

Coming across a poorly maintained stile or overgrown hedgerow access can make you feel like an intrepid explorer but away from the walking world, those with good sea legs were the true explorers of the day and a visit to the Golden Hind helps bring all that to life.

Once you have visited the Hind you still have the return journey to enjoy and walking back up the hill you may wish you had your own ship to help convey you round the coast to the car park!

For more ideas about walking in devon please visit my main site.

Monday, 11 January 2010

New Walk - Kingswear Coast Walk

Hello! Long time no speak. Happy New Year and all that. Hope you got that new pair of walking boots you wanted for Christmas!

To get the New Year off to a great start why not enjoy this lovely South Devon walk. Although I've called it Kingswear, it is actually exploring the coastline just south of Kingswear which is owned and managed by the National Trust.

Take care if you are thinking of heading out to do this walk in the current weather. The paths are still likely to be icy and the coast path is well exposed in several places where a fall would be serious and potentially fatal. Don't let that put you off though! In normal weather conditions this is an excellent walk offering some excellent views along the coast.

I hope you are all keeping safe and warm at the moment. The snow was lovely and walking across the fields enjoying the undisturbed snow was magic. I'm sure lots of great photos have been captured of Devon under it's white blanket. However now that it has turned to ice it has made going for a walk an extreme sport. I don't fancy another hip replacement so I haven't been out that much. Still the walking poles have come into their own recently.

On the plus side it has given me time to add this walk to the site. Please have a look and take the chance to enjoy any of my great devon walks.