Watcombe-MaidencombeDecember 04, 2011, prb, Comments: 1
Led by the lady who loves hills....
We met in the car park a short distance off the A379 coast road between Teignmouth and Torquay, to start this short walk. Mind you, its lack of length was more than made up for by the 440m of climb we had to endure to complete this really quite strenuous circuit.
We started off by plunging into the heavily wooded Valley of Rocks - planted with trees some while after the original quarrying operations that left standing some astonishingly tall rock pinnacles, had finished. A short detour to include more of the undulating quarry floor completed, we climbed laboriously up from the quarry floor and followed the waymarks taking us northwards to the Coast Path proper.
Soon we reached the cliff edge - in places perilously close to it - above Bell Rock, and Shackley Beach. We then touched the eastern edge of Maidencombe village, before continuing along the coast path skirting Maidencombe Beach, Mackerel Cove, and Herring Cove. Just north of this we left the cliff and headed inland across and climbing up two very steeply sloping fields until we came to the steepest part - a scrub-lined bowl. This we had to climb out of - a task many of us found extremely testing, although we did all emerge on the gentler sidelong slope beyond it.
By now we were getting close to the A379, and its traffic noise. Rather than join it, we kept seaward of it, and skirted the foot of the gardens of some large properties with splendid and no doubt expensive sea views. It was reassuring to be greeted here by this sentinel ensuring we did not transgress.
Continuing now southwards, up and down, up and down, before long we dropped down into Maidencombe, and the welcome sight of the Thatched Cottage.
There was little dissent from the proposition that we should repair inside for some refreshment!
Thus fortified, eventually we decided to make tracks, notwithstanding the lack of enthusiasm at the prospect of more physical exercise now evident in some members' faces. We ambled out through the village, pausing to study its 14th century courthouse, at which point our leader exclaimed "My stick!", turned tail and headed back to the pub at speed.
Fortunately, on her return soon after, she was carrying her walking pole. In the light of that occurrence and others similar in the past, one bright spark suggested we should set up a rota for a stick monitor whose role it would be to remind all members after a stop to check that they had their poles with them. The committee will no doubt give that idea due consideration at its next formal meeting.
We now set off again, and very soon were confronted by one of the most punishing uphill stretches of lane walking encountered in a long time. We all struggled to greater or lesser degree. Leaving the road at a bend, the climb continued on along a track before eventually levelling out as we approached the rim of the Valley of Rocks From here it was a simple matter to retrace our steps through the old clay (to feed the Torquay terracotta industry) quarry back to the car park.
The notes for this walk in our Autumn programme stated that it was quite challenging in parts. That was something of an understatement! To be more accurate, it was almost entirely challenging. There was hardly a yard of flat ground on the whole 4.25 mile long route! Anyhow, thank you Margaret for a walk away from our normal sphere of operations that packed in a huge amount of fitness training in a very short distance. For those interested, the track has been uploaded to GPSies and can be seen at
Of particular note is the difficulty rating given to the walk by the website which, at 4.77, is I think a record for walks this group has undertaken.