Sunday, 13 July 2014

Coast: Brixham to Paignton - part 1

I think I'm beginning to run out of local coastline to explore... On Friday I filled in one of the remaining gaps, and walked the South West Coast Path from Brixham to Paignton. It's a route that takes in wooded clifftops and a series of coves, from the rugged and highly secluded, to the most accessible and commercialised.
It's about 6.5 miles and not wildly taxing (especially as nearly all the coves have kiosks) though there are a lot of steps that were quite hard work on a close, hot day. You start from the west side of Brixham Harbour ...

Brixham Harboour, with its statue of William of Orange
Replica of the Golden Hind

... where following the harbour front leads to a promenade that runs north-west below old limestone quarries. At the end, steps take you up to the Battery Grounds, parkland that was formerly a WW2 battery point.

Looking back to Brixham

The Battery Grounds, with view ahead over Torbay
The path leads round the headland to Fishcombe Cove; a number of accounts say that here and the adjacent Churston Cove was where William of Orange landed his men and artillery in 1688 before his celebrated landing at Brixham itself. A steep path up from the cove turns right at the entrance to the Brixham Battery Museum, and continues to the more secluded Churston Cove.

I took an involuntary detour here; above Churston Cove, the Coast Path isn't terribly well-signposted, and I followed the more prominent path rather than the intended one down into the cove. After half a mile or so, it dawned on me that I was walking inland, skirting the side of a large wooded valley, with terrain very like the Valley of Rocks at Watcombe (see Ice cold in Shaldon). I later found it's called the Grove. I wasn't exactly lost - the landscape's easy to read - and so I cut down to the valley floor, following the track there seaward until it emerged at Churston Cove. It was worth the detour; the Grove has old limekilns, and some interesting scultured poles by the chainsaw artist JaCk Tree.

View from Battery Grounds to Churston Cove

Fishcombe Cove (left) and Churston Cove (right)

Fishcombe Cove

Brixham Battery Museum entrance

Into the woods ...

Top of limekiln


Sculpture by JaCK Tree
These sculptures were finished in 2005. According to this account:
The area represents a remains of a long lost civilization of environmentally aware race of people, each pillar represents an aspect of the 4 directions, 4 ages of man, 4 seasons, 4 elements with a hidden 5th to each, the centre spiral is the spirit of life, 9 guardians are set into the trees overlooking the site with a very special 10th nearby.
- JACK TREE / Images The Grove
As the above site shows, they originally were topped with faces, but decay (note the bracket fungi) has since effaced these.

Sculpture by JaCK Tree

Emerging in Fishcombe Cove - the distant structure is Brixham breakwater
Continued in Coast: Brixham to Paignton - part 2.

- Ray

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