Saturday, 24 May 2014

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 54

West Bay to Abbotsbury
9 miles
Word of the day: Erosion

Woke to a sunny morning but you could see that rain clouds were forming. This however made spectacular skies and perfect light on the cliffs. I made some sketches using the soft yellow ochre rock, sea water & ink. I could have stayed all day but knowing that we had to get home by several buses and
trains forced us to crack on with the 
last stretch to Abbotsbury.

It has been a great week, legs have held up well and the sun gods have been smiling on us, better late than never!

The sudden change to the Jurassic coast provided me with renewed enthusiasm. The rolling hills and eroded cliff edges were such a contrast to the more robust broken and angular landscape of South Devon.

Walking through new landscapes has been exciting as well as a little daunting. Knowing how long it takes to really understand a place makes me uncertain that I can represent it by just walking through. On the other hand I found that the familiarity of my home stretch made me not look with fresh eyes. I guess you get different things from first contact compared with the deeper understanding gained after many visits. With less than 100 miles to go and the finishing line almost in view I am starting to reflect on the journey, thinking about the huge variety of landscapes on the way and noting places that I would like to revisit.

The next post will be from the studio.

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 53

Charmouth to West Bay
9 miles
Word of the day: Meadows

Went for the healthy option at breakfast this morning - no fried food but not sure if croissants are any better! After being heckled by an OAP in Charmouth ("'allo ramblin' hikers - what have you got all that kit for?"), a long slog up Stonebarrow Lane brought us out onto the cliffs above St Gabriel's Mouth. Beautiful sunshine and blue skies today. Stopped to sketch Golden Cap from the west with Portland clear on the horizon.

Puffed our way to the top and had lunch whilst sketching the coast spread out beneath us like a map. Met 18 members of the Hallam Community Youth Club (Walking Section) who were having a fabulous time on one of their biannual walking holidays. 

On the way down to Seatown I stopped to sketch some trees - the ice cream at the bottom of the hill was gorgeous. Up and over more roly poly cliffs to our final nights rest for this week. West Bay is a hotch potch of architectural styles but the place is dominated by the brooding presence of the East Cliff - featured in TV's Broadchurch and the title sequence of Reggie Perrin. Even when you're lying in bed you can feel the cliffs - just waiting!

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 52

Branscombe to Charmouth
10 miles
Word of the day: Undercliff

After a lovely night in the hut we headed down to Branscombe Mouth for breakfast in the Sea Shanty Restaurant. Walked through the Hooken Undercliff, formed in 1790 when a huge chunk of countryside (complete with hedges and a stile) slid 150 ft down the cliff.

Stopped just after Beer Head to sketch the chalky headland of East Ebb between Beer and Seaton. Sat on the beach in Beer and celebrated our imminent arrival in Dorset with a farewell photo of the Devon flag. 

The path was closed so we had to bus it to Lyme Regis; we reversed the path into the Undercliff - it was like like stepping into a lost world. 

Trudged round the inland diversion to Charmouth and were very pleased when we finally arrived at Ladder House - our B & B for the night courtesy of Andy & Judy.

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 51

Ladram Bay to Branscombe
8 miles
Word of the day: Huts

Bit more windy today, a nice change from the heat of the last three days. Did the waterproof shuffle a few times as the rain tried to make up its mind. Sketched Jacobs Ladder and walked along the sea wall with a backdrop of impressive graffiti scratched into the red sandstone. Stopped in Sidmouth for supplies and a nice cup of coffee in the Pea Green Boat.

Walked up the first of three big hills and enjoyed the bluebell woods on Salcombe Hill. Stopped on a seat on Dunscombe Cliff overlooking Weston Coombe. Had lunch and sketched the cliffs and beach. Dropped down into Littlecombe Shoot to stay in one of the huts clinging to the side of the cliff. Thanks to Flo Pearson and her family for inviting us to stay in such a special place. Apparently the hut sits on an old 'Plat' that was used as a market garden until the 1950's. Went to sleep to the sound of the sea and distant thunder. Marvellous!

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 50

Exmouth to Ladram Bay
10 miles
Word of the day: Stacks

Leaving Exmouth we passed the monument marking the start of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site - a slender pyramid of Portland stone inlaid with rocks from the various geological eras present on the coast. Having skirted the bustling Sandy Bay holiday park the simple act of going through a gate in a hedge takes you to another world of impressive sandstone cliffs and pastoral farmland. 

I stopped to sketch above Littleham Cove, and then we dropped down into Budleigh Salterton for lunch on the pebbly beach (pebbles originating from the bed of a river flowing from Normandy millions of years ago - apparently). The transition from caravan park to cliff seemed to reawaken my creativity which had been sadly lacking over the previous couple of days whilst walking through a number of seaside resorts.

Having walked half a mile inland to cross the River Otter I stopped later to sketch Brandy Head. Walked on to Ladram Bay with its amazingly sculpted rock pinnacles. Slogged up to the top of High Peak (508 ft) before dropping down to Lower Pinn Farm for the night. Liz very kindly ran us down to the Kings Arms in Otterton for a lovely supper.

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 49

Teignmouth to Exmouth
9 miles
Word of the day: Closed

Hot and sunny today as we left Teignmouth on the first of numerous diversions - all resulting from the January storms that trashed this coastline. Dawlish and Dawlish Warren are achingly typical English seaside resorts. Complete with candy floss, arcades, mini-golf, hordes of children, dogs and larger than life characters.

A boring road walk inland to the Starcross Ferry was relieved by a pint at the Anchor overlooking Cockwood Harbour. Whilst waiting for the ferry we watched a flock of about twenty Turnstones flipping pebbles over on the foreshore. A very pleasant ferry crossing (thanks Mark & Andy) brought us to Exmouth and a night with our friends Steve & Gill Price. Not an inspiring day due to all the diversions and my inability to re-engage with the walk - hoping for better things tomorrow.

Week 8: Torquay to Abbotsbury - Day 48

Torquay to Teignmouth
7 miles
Word of the day: Gigs

After a long bus journey from Dartington it was great to be back on the path. However, this first section was a bit of a shock for the legs - a real roller coaster. Stopped to sketch above Babbacombe Bay just after Maidencombe.

As we approached The Ness at Shaldon our ears were assaulted by the sound of a velociraptor devouring its prey, or at least that's what it sounded like! It was a gurgling, sucking, chomping sound - like a giant toilet cistern slowly filling up. We never did find out what it was.

As we walked past the mouth of the Teign Estuary half a dozen gig crews were pulling for all they were worth and barely making headway against the incoming tide. We spent the night with our friend Ian Chamberlain (a member of the Moor Poets).

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Here we go Again!

The penultimate stretch of the coast path beckons, packing and planning is underway. It took me a few hours just to find everything that had been stuffed away in the cupboard since last year. 

After such a gap in the project I feel a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I am not sure I am as fit as I was on the last two stints, but as they say "the best training for walking - is walking" 

It will be good to be back out again to reconnect with the landscape, the connection is much stronger for me when I stay out for prolonged periods of time. So with pencils sharpened, boots waxed, waterproofs packed (just in case!!) off we go ... only 140 miles left.

Week 8 Itinerary

May 16  Torquay to Teignmouth
May 17  Teignmouth to Exmouth
May 18  Exmouth to Ladram Bay
May 19  Ladram Bay to Branscombe
May 20  Branscombe to Charmouth
May 21  Charmouth to West Bay
May 22  West Bay to Abbotsbury

The images included here are: Day 41 - Greenfinches at Staddon Heights; and below, Cornish Hedgerow (on-site Monoprint, printed in the Print Bus!)

Friday, 2 May 2014

Back on the Path (Again)!

During the winter I have been finishing off the daily prints from last year's walk. 

Colours Cove (Day 38), is an impressive rock arch near Polperro.

The others shown here are: Charlestown Harbour (Day 37) and Mew Stone from Kelly's Cove (Day 47).

Preparations are now well underway for the final 140 miles of the Coast Path from Brixham to Poole. We are planning to walk the last 2 sections during May and early June. This part of the coast is new to me so it will be very interesting to see the changes from my familiar Devon landscape to the Jurassic coastline. Unfortunately some of the under-cliff section is still closed due to landslips but I hope to visit the parts that are open.

I have also been working on some small collagraphs of South Hams beaches, this one is Slapton Sands.

The Print Bus

The current Devon Guild Newsletter has an article about my new venture. I have created  a mobile print studio in our Toyota Hiace. Initial test runs have been very successful and when time allows I will run some courses. Click here for more information and a link to the article.

New Website
My website has been rebuilt and updated. It now has a shop facility where the Outline South West prints are for sale online.

Exmouth Art Group Workshop

In March I ran a one day monoprinting workshop for a lovely group of artists. Everyone went home with a good many beautiful prints. Here are a few of them.

“Landscape  to  Canvas” -  3 Workshops in June & July
There are 2 places left on 12th & 13th July. Click here for more details and to book.

Back soon with more details of the next walking stage.