Thursday, 21 July 2016

SWCP - Kingston to Hope Cove

Thursday 21st July

At last, I thought. A shorter day to give me more time to relax instead of rushing round booking ahead, doing laundry, and confirming evening meal.

I was off to an even better start because the Dolphin landlord offered to run me the two kilometres down to the point where I would have emerged if I had done my Bear Grylls act fording the River Erm.

The path passed over a short section of beach. Three guys were camped there with three tents that might have come from Woolworths in the good old days. They were full of cheer, "we had a drink last night so couldn't drive home."
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Two or three stiff ascents and descents lead to more level walking, then down to Bigford-on-Sea, the home of a large static caravan holiday site. There was a beach café where I would have preferred to sit inside because of the heat but it was all pop music and amusement machines and shell suits. I pressed on. Round the corner was a little hut selling beach toys and refreshments and after finding nobody attending I was ready for off when an old salt appeared from another door. I had a good mug of tea, then through conversation discovered that the ferry across the River Avon to Bantham forty minutes walk away only operates from 10.00am to 11.00am and 3.00pm to 4.00pm - it was now 11.30am. The old salt suggested asking the Lifeguard people a bit further on if they would ferry me with their boat, or to ring the ferryman (he gave me their number) to see if he would do a special.

The lifeguards were "jobsworth". I walked quarter of a mile up the very steep road to where the footpath for the ferry departed. I then found I had no signal to phone the ferryman. A passer by told me I would get an EE signal 100yds up a track off the road which amazingly worked. The ferryman was abrupt and open to no suggestion of a special. I walked back down the very steep road to another beach café and whiled away time to arrange my rendezvous with the obdurate ferryman at 3:00pm. My visions of an early finish had been annulled.

The ferryman was quite jovial as we exchanged experiences of various biting insects. The passage only takes about five minutes.

Easy walking from there on with many folks on the path had me at The Cottage Hotel, Hope Cove for 5:00pm.

This is an old established, possibly fifty plus room holiday hotel with a "dinner, bed and breakfast" deal. The emphasis here is on the five course dinner which I reckon is the main attraction. It starts from 7:30 and is manned by a team of attentive uniformed staff. I am presently struggling through the cheese course after a goat's cheese, duck confit salad starter, an orange sorbet, grilled hake with all the trimmings, and a mixed fruit compote thingy, and I reckon I have gone the distance.

Before dinner.
Wifi does not extend to the rooms and I had no signal on EE so booking ahead involved going back down to the bar to research on Internet, return to room to use landline at 9p. minute and all that repeated three times until I eventually nailed an interesting sounding B and B at East Prawle.

The sunset across the bay from this dining room window is a constantly developing wonder of nature. There are few people left now at other tables, a tribute to my gastronomic stamina. I think there may be coffee but I'm giving in - off back to my room now looking forward to tomorrow.

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