Day 19 – Branscombe Beach to Exmouth

I think my poor diet has finally caught up with me, you could pebble dash a wall with my arse this morning. Walking on a shingle beach is hard enough without having to do so whilst clenching, and I didn’t know at the time if the toilets would be open or not. I waddled like a duck on crack, threw myself at the door and thanked whatever deity might have been in earshot when the door flew open. I mean, I had a plan B but it involved being half naked in the English Channel at 5.30am in May. Yeah nah, fuck that. I made a mental note to eat a vegetable or something soon.

Oh hello, vast stretch of coastline that we’re about to walk.

As promised the weather had gone to shit. We sat in the tent outer, listening to the rain patter down onto the sil-nylon. It could be considered somewhat relaxing, even romantic, if we weren’t eating Super Noodles and didn’t have to pack the sodden tent down and subsequently hike for several miles in the drizzle.

We wrapped ourselves in Gore-tex and started the climb up the hideous hill from the beach. Then we stopped halfway and took our overtrousers off because despite the Met Office promising pissing rain all day it was alternating between barely a drizzle and aggressive spitting. Neither of us relinquished our jackets or Sealskinz though. Tarrant can’t risk getting wet feet, she got trench foot once and now lives in fear that her feet are going to drop off or something.

Off we fucked then over the rollercoaster of hills we’d come to expect from the Jurassic Coast. Lung searing ups, where you drag your unwilling carcass over the top, gasping for whatever oxygen you can cram into your poor, abused respiratory system, half expecting to round a corner and be glared at by a yak. Followed immediately by the kind of downhills that make you very, very aware of your knees. One particularly bastardous hill was interspersed with many benches, possibly so you could sit and enjoy the eyehole fodder, possibly so you could die in comfort.

Sidmouth. It doesn’t matter how cute you think a town is, there’s no way you can make it look good in photos when it’s raining and you get bins in the shot.

We rocked up to the sprawling metropolis that is Sidmouth where we intended to resupply at the Tesco Express, but first we swung by Housewares to pick up some more gas. I’d called ahead yesterday after we’d failed to find any Colemans gas in Lyme Regis and they popped a couple of cans aside for us, the absolute darlings. It was still drizzling so once we’d bought everything we needed to stop us from starving to death over the next 24 hours we retreated to the first café we found that had enough space for two damp lesbians and their backpacks.

Those cliffs though!

Rincon Coffee is brilliant! We were welcomed as soon as we walked in and dripped all over the floor. Supplies were divided and packed away and we enjoying being warm and dry so much we went to get another cuppa. They were actually closing but they insisted we weren’t to rush and I even got a complimentary pastry from them. Tarrant can’t have dairy. I could feel her death stare as I tucked into my tasty free calories.

I actually really liked Sidmouth despite the shite weather. The tide was going out revealing a sandy beach for those weirdos amongst you that like that sort of thing, but the main bit of beach was pebbles which is ideal for people like me that just want to sit and have a beer or a sandwich without getting sand in my crack. Red cliffs lined the promenade, left over from the Triassic period when this whole area was a desert. This is pre-dinosaur shit, right there. They’re red because of the iron particles. They basically went rusty. How cool is that. Anyway. One last slog up and out of Sidmouth and down the other side before it became what could be considered flat around here.

High Peak trigpoint. Great views. Might not be able to get back down again. Also, I don’t think it’ll be long before this poor bugger falls into the sea.

We did walk up a very, very unfriendly side hill to bag a trigpoint which turned out to be horribly close to the edge of a cliff. I wasn’t even sure at that point that I was going to be able to get down the hill again. Maybe I just lived there now. Perhaps I’d become The Legendary Stuck Woman and people would bring me tea and cake and I’d impart my wisdom, but the only advice I’d give would be not to walk up ridiculous fucking hills to bag trigpoints.

The eyehole fodder around here just doesn’t stop. My RX100 had been packed away all day on account of it having zero weather sealing so all my photos had to be taken with my phone through a waterproof case. Gutted. It did finally stop raining after 5pm but everything was wet, I didn’t want to risk my lovely (and expensive) camera.

Look at this little guy! Must only have been a couple of days old.

The weather today though, it was like, wet shit was falling from the sky all day, but it kind of couldn’t be bothered but it’d promised rain so it felt like it had to deliver resulting in this constant half-arsed drizzly shit. 2/10 for effort, Rain Gods. Don’t misunderstood me, I’d much rather this than a torrential downpour but you never knew what you should do with your waterproofs. What would get you wetter? The rain? Or sweating like a beast inside your Gore-tex?

After Budleigh Salterton the trail got lumpy again. We didn’t think we’d have trouble finding a pitch but shit me, how wrong were we? Everything we found was unacceptably slopey, too brambly, or was a fucking golf course. We walked through a sprawling holiday park and seriously considered breaking into one of the mobile homes in what looked like a caravan graveyard but trespass is one thing, breaking and entering is a whole other court case.

The rain washes the red from the cliffs into the water. It looks dramatic and makes you realise how fucking fragile the cliffs really are.

Everything on the other side of the holiday park was cropped fields. After that the fields were grassy but very firmly fenced with barbed wire. Eventually, finally, just as desperation set in, the trail provided and we found a lovely bit of flat ground with a bench and everything before Exmouth. Seriously though, trail. Cutting it a bit fine aren’t we?

Day: 19
Day on South West Coast Path: 9
Distance walked today:  19 miles
Total walked so far: 292.62 miles
Weather: Persistent drizzle all day.
Coldest temp last night: 9.88°C inside / 6.69°C outside
Trigs bagged: 3
Trigs to date: 29
“Have you read ‘The Salt Path?'” (Running Total): 5

Jump to “Useful shit to know…”

Branscombe Beach, Devon to Exmouth, Devon, England

Stayed at: Wild camp not far from the Geoneedle

Useful shit to know…

  • There are toilets at Branscombe Beach  Sidmouth and Budleigh Salterton.
  • There are taps at Branscombe Beach and Sidmouth. The one at Budleigh Salterton was broken.
  • If you have a filter there are streams running onto the beaches sometimes.

BUDGET for one person (based on two sharing)
Tea in Sidmouth: £5.70
Groceries: £10.68
Postage for Tarrant’s shoes: £2.73
Colemans gas: £8.50
Toilets at Branscombe: £0.25
Grand Total: £27.86

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