The plan today is a short walk of ten miles, primarily on cliffs and beach from Seaton to Sidmouth, from where we will catch a bus to Exeter, train to Paddington, London and then the overnight sleeper back home. Although short in distance, the walk is not without its challenges, as it contains a number of steep ascents and descents. The weather forecast is for cloudy but warm, so we hope to avoid finishing the adventure in full rain gear.
The last day of an adventure is always a mixture of emotions. As tiredness kicks in you look forward to the rest and recupperation, but it is tinged with regret and melancholy as you realise that another part of the journey is over. It is a bit like leaving a job where mentally and psychologically you leave the building before you have actually departed the old job. It would be a mistake to think that our adventures are only about the physical journey. It is always an important part of our continuing psychological journey through life. Our experiences on the trail cause us to question perspectives and positions on a myriad of issues and subjects, many that have been held over a lifetime. We are never the same at the end of an adventure than we were at the beginning.
This area was also home to the small market gardens known as Weston Plats. Until the mis-20thC, local people worked the plats or plots of land to grow flowers, potatoes and vegetables. The general environment had many advantages including protection from the wind, a south-facing perspective and a local water supply However, it was also a difficult terrain, with the cliffs subject to erosion and, difficult to access lying about a mile up a steep hill. It was finally abandoned in the mid-sixties and passed in to the care of the National Trust about forty years ago. The land gradually returned to a more natural state and has only recently been opened again to the public, now forming part of the SWCP.
There is another one of those choices between hill or beach when you drop down to Salcombe Mouth, providing of course the tide is right. As we were coming off Dunscombe Cliff we were worried about the time as we needed to catch the 15.30 bus to Exeter if we were to make our train to London to catch the overnight sleeper. It looked doubful that we had the time for the up and over of Salcombe Hill, so we decided to check the state of the tide and consider the beach option. After consulting the tide table, we decided to run the beach. Relieved as we were to see the tide was out, we knew it was on the turn and we fair shot along the front of the red cliffs on Salcombe beach. We made it to the bus station, out of breath but with ten minutes to spare before the bus to Exeter.