For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Friday, 7 December 2012

South West Coast Path. Day 3 (Afternoon): Burgh Island To Bantham

Just beyond Burgh Island and Bigbury-on-Sea stretched the wide mouth of the river Avon, the third river in three days that I would have to ford. Naturally the ferry wasn't working — I'd become used to that. So I decided to walk round the whole estuary, crossing the river by the road bridge at Aveton Gifford. This turned out to be a lovely, eight-mile walk — waymarked and easy to follow. I climbed the hill out of Bigbury. At the top a farmer offered me a cup of coffee, which I drank on his stone patio overlooking the Avon estuary and the village of Bantham, which I would reach five hours later...  

The superb view from the farmer's patio. In the top left of the picture you can just make out the village of Bantham.  It would take me five hours to get there along the delightful Avon Walkway. Such is the nature of the South West Coast Path. You can't be in a hurry.

At first the Avon Estuary Walk deviates away from the river... 

Good to know that children and animals are allowed to range freely in Devon, unlike in many other parts of the country, where they are caged and confined and not allowed to roam at will. Parents are far too worried these days about the dangers children may face out of sight of their parents. If they are constantly supervised they will never learn how to look after themselves, and never experience the joy and glorious liberation to be found in the natural world.     

I soon rejoined the river...

... whose banks were full of wonderful late-autumn colour...

There's Aveton Gifford in the distance...

I negotiated stiles and soggy, squelchy grass...

... until I gained the tidal causeway running alongside the river. Luckily the tide was out. I heard oystercatchers whistle and watched a little egret feeding in the marsh on the left. 

I stopped as long as I dared in the Fisherman's Rest pub at Aveton Gifford and drank a pint and ate a sandwich. It was two hours before nightfall. I set off back down the other side of the river, passing curvaceous, green fields and wooded combes circled by buzzards... 

... until I arrived finally at The Sloop Inn, Bantham, where I spent the night. Once more the food was very good. In fact I preferred it here to the Dolphin — it was smarter, and the rooms more comfortable...

15 comments:

Arija said...

How I wish I could still walk for miles and miles. The next best thing is following your footsteps across thole green fields and plentiful rivers.

George said...

Once again, magnificent. Love those beautiful autumn colors on the landscape. Since I am hoping to walk at least part of the path in the next year or so, can you tell me whether there is any reason to prefer north to south, versus south to north?

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Arija.

George - the prevailing winds are usually westerly or south-westerly, so I suppose it makes sense to do the Minehead - Land's End section south to north and the Land's End - Poole section west to east (as I am doing at the moment — really made a difference, with the wind at my back).

The path can be tougher than some of the guidebooks would have you believe — lots of very tiring ups-and-downs, and to do these in bad weather and with rough/muddy/rocky terrain underfoot can be demoralising. It's wise never to take on too much each day, particularly in the late autumn/winter/early spring.

George said...

Thanks, Robert. Your advice is helpful.

Hilary said...

Love this trip....I am so jealous......My mother is from England, and spent time in Plymouth while she was in the ATS, met my father, who was in the US Navy.
I am going to show her these pictures....she will be 88 on Sunday, but your walk will touch her, and make her smile.

The Solitary Walker said...

Aw, I'm so touched, Hilary! Thanks so much for reading, and commenting, and showing your mum these pics.

Rubye Jack said...

I love your attitude. If the ferry is not there, then one can walk it.
It really is sad that many kids no longer are able to go out on their own and make discoveries, and sometimes I wonder if parents aren't a bit over cautious.

Beautiful country!

The Solitary Walker said...

Walking it is often the best way, Rubye. For me, anyhow.

And as for parents — their fear and cautiousness verges on the neurotic at times.

pilgrimpace said...

Good to follow you Robert. Many happy memories (with the exception of the time I sprained - and almost broke - my ankle on slippery rocks between Zennor and Lands End.

And you've got me thinking about 'Battery Children' - time to reread Colin Ward,

Andy

Ruth said...

Those gentle orange trees are soothing, even if the terrain was tough. So beautiful!

dritanje said...

A great pleasure to 'follow' the path you took, with the photos of such lovely countryside - and the sea, the sea!

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks Andy, Ruth and dritanje for your comments.

Vagabonde said...

Such lovely countryside – it invites one to pack a suitcase and go…

Goat said...

Great colours in this section. Next time you should pack an inflatable raft of some sort.

The Solitary Walker said...

Wanna come with me, Vagabonde? I'd go with anyone with a name like that!

Goat — I've now been given two suggestions how to ford those ferry-less rivers: floating on my rucksack (haha, Rachel) and packing an inflatable raft. However, my water skills are minimal and my swimming is poor. I'd much rather walk the long way round! (Or get a bus or taxi.)