The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes. MARCEL PROUST

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. WILLIAM BLAKE

Wanderer, there is no way; the way is made by walking. ANTONIO MACHADO

Monday, 10 December 2012

South West Coast Path. Days 8 & 9: Brixham To Dawlish

The next day the storms returned with an even greater ferocity. These extreme weather conditions affecting south-west England were now headline news in the media. There were mudslides. Rivers burst their banks. Homes were flooded. Transport was disrupted. The main railway line to London was closed due to a landslip.

I battled on. Luckily there were lots of sheltered paths between the trees... 


Though sometimes the trees had been uprooted...


Then there was a tedious, built-up section which took me through Paignton and Torquay. The weather worsened. The wind grew more intense. I packed my camera in a waterproof bag in my backpack. It was simply impossible to take any pictures. Huge waves crashed over the defensive walls on Torquay sea front and I was drenched a couple of times. Stopping for coffee at Torquay marina I watched the wind pick up a heavy, weighted signboard outside the café and fling it against the harbour railings as if it were made of cardboard. Outside again I saw the storm had forced flocks of turnstones to congregate on the promenade. I'd never seen so many of these birds in one place before. It was exhausting fighting continually against the wind, but exhilarating too. It was so bad that it was good.

After spending the night in Coastguard Cottage, a sweet little B&B in Babbacombe, and eating steak and chips in an old-fashioned pub with a fabulously phlegmatic landlord, who nevertheless knocked £5 off my bill when he knew where I was staying, I left for Dawlish in good spirits. The gale had abated, and the weather was fine and much calmer all day. It seemed that a pattern was being set: stormy days alternating with milder days. As usual there were a few steep ups and downs on the path, which was covered in leaves and greasy, red mud, so I had to watch my feet and take extreme care. Eventually I grew fed up with the strain of this, and headed away from the path up a country lane, which turned out to be a much easier way over the hill and down into the village of Shaldon, nestling prettily at the mouth of the river Teign... 


But the only thing that concerned me at that moment was not the charm of the place but whether the ferry was running. I made for the beach. There two people were jumping up and down on the red sand trying to attract the attention of the ferryman on the opposite bank. I was soon in the boat...  


... which chugged me briskly across the estuary to Teignmouth, from where it was a short walk via Holcombe to Dawlish...

5 comments:

Ruth said...

What an extraordinary adventure!

(I'm feeling sheepish again. This time it's because I didn't know that a turnstone—the name of your poetry site—was a bird, a shore bird, I take it.)

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, a shore bird — in this case forced onto Torquay's concrete esplanade by storm and high tide.

George said...

What contrasts! Notwithstanding the terrible weather that threatened you much of the time, the beach scene at Shaldon appears as it might on a halcyon summer day.

Vagabonde said...

What a storm! I watched the English storms on TV. It makes you feel very small when nature erupts like this. We have tornadoes often around here so I understand.
Thanks for coming to my blog. Yes, I can write – I guess well enough for an immigrant. But when a language is not the one learnt in childhood I believe the two most difficult subjects to grasp are jokes (like double entendre) and poetry. To me, poetry by its very nature is the aesthetic of words, the rhythm, the symbols and subtle play with the language. I used to write poems in French, but would not attempt it in a foreign language. Have you tried to write poetry in French or another language? Some gifted poets can of course. I have the Complete French Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke – and these 400 poems were written directly in French by him. Some have been translated in English – but translating poetry is also very delicate – I think that the characteristics of the language have to be understood outside the narrow comprehension of personal awareness. So, to come back to my comment – I know my limitations but thanks you for your comment, you are too kind.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, the weather was completely unpredictable, George!

Vagabonde — I have written one short poem in French (see my poem 'Tour de Chanson' on my poetry site 'walking in words' linked to from this site), but I agree it's a difficult thing to do. I'm aware of the poems Rilke wrote in French and they are wonderful. Have a look at the Beckett French stuff too! Thanks so much for your long and interesting comment.