Wayward Wanderers Walking Group

Peak Hill, Bulverton Hill, The Ham, Sidmouth

March 29, 2010, prb, Comments: 0

Forecast rain held off until the end

We met at the car park at the top of Peak Hill.  Here our numbers were boosted by new member Liz, and guests or prospective members Liz, Steve, Georgie and Julie, all of whom we welcome.  A few days ago the weather forecast was for a wet Sunday.  That forecast got progressively less ominous and, on the basis of Sunday's Met Office forecast that the rain would hold off until about 4pm, our leaders Sara-Jane and Tony decided not to cancel.

So, unperturbed by the low cloud swirling across the cliffs as we drove through Sidmouth to the start, we were reasonably hopeful that we would get round largely in the dry. 

We set off briskly along the track leading northwards along the eastern edge of Mutters Moor, until we came to the western side of Bulverton Hill.  Here we left the moorland edge and started a gentle climb up into the woodland on Bulverton Hill, heading up to the northern side of the bull-nose overlooking the A3052 and Sidmouth Garden Centre.

From this, our northernmost point, we skirted around the eastern side of the hill just inside the plantation area, .....

.....eventually, and after encountering some extremely muddy stretches of path, emerged onto a more open track leading eastwards to Higher Greenway Lane.  After a short distance we joined Bickwell Lane, following it downhill to meet the Bowd-Sidmouth road. 

Our route then threaded its way through an increasingly urban scene as we found a route that ran partly on residential streets, but mostly along hidden footpath routes running along the backs of properties.  Some might find this sort of walk unappealing, but it is interesting nevertheless for the unexpected views one gets of the more secluded parts of houses and gardens.  We were also amazed to find the occasional cluster of old thatched cottages left in the middle of a mass of modern estate housing.

On our way we crossed Woolbrook Road and Sidford Road, but eventually our objective, The Byes, came into view.   This attractive walk along the banks of the River Sid is a favourite of Sidmouth residents for gentle recreation and dog-walking, and justly so - its beauty speaks for itself.

We followed the river southwards to Salcombe Road and then continued on down Milford Road and Mill Street to emerge on The Ham and the mouth of the Sid. By this time the clouds had closed in and we were "enjoying" a persistent drizzle.  We had, though, to pause for a few moments to study and photograph the most recent cliff fall the other side of the river. 

There must have been four or five cliff falls on this stretch of coast this year and yet you still see people walking along the shingle in front of the clifff in defiance of the clearly positioned warning notices.   One feels very sorry for the poor owners of the houses above the cliff whose gardens are being progressively eroded away and shortened.

Our route turned along the Promenade and, given the change in weather, this was a stretch we could cover at a fairly stiff pace.  

At the far end we took Clifton Walk at the foot of the Jacob's Ladder cliff before rounding the promontory and walking up the steep path to meet the road leading up Peak Hill. 

Here began another of the challenging climbs on the East Devon Coast Path that the group has tackled over the last few months.  The first part of the climb took us up the wide grassy border that separates the road from the cliff edge.  At the top end of this we had a short stretch of enclosed path, part of the old road that was taken out by a cliff fall some 6-8 years ago, before joining the road near the bend.  Here we split. 

Those who did not fancy the cliff took the more direct route to the start point up the road; the others left the road to follow the coast path, spotting some signs that Spring had at last arrived,...........

........ up a series of steps that ulimately brought us out on the Peak Hill plateau, in thick fog. 

Here we turned inland for some 400m on the level.....

.........across an open field through the gloom and then across the road and back to the car park.

So, we covered just short of 7 miles, and although we got a little damp towards the end the rain did pretty much adhere to the forecast.  Our climb amounted to about 270m, almost all of it at the end.  I just hope our guests did not find it so bad that they do not join us again. 

Out thanks go to Tony and Sara-Jane for leading us round, and for introducing even those of us who know Sidmouth quite well to parts we have never before encountered.  I think that on the basis of today's conditions underfoot they have jointly wrested the title of  Mudmeister from Phil, and on the basis of the nature of the last two walks they have led, we would like them to accept the joint title of Hillmeister.

The route plot can be viewed on GPSies at

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