There is no ‘bucket list’ - Lynne and I are both well, thank you – but we have arrived at a point in our lives where we have the time, the money and the good health to indulge in a passion for travel. We know how lucky and privileged we are to be able to do this, and we know it won’t last for ever, but while it does…..

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Ugborough to Ringmore, In Sight of the Sea: Day 33 Of the South West Odyssey (English Branch)

The South West Odyssey is a long distance walk.
Five like-minded people started in 2008 from the Cardingmill Valley in Shropshire and by walking three days a year have now (April 2018) reached Ringmore on the South Devon Coast (almost).

In the morning I followed Mike down to Ringmore on the coast (nearly) to bring him back after he had parked his car. The weather looked more promising than the last two days, the walk was shorter (it is a long drive home from South Devon) and the coastal South Hams, while undulating, does not involve repeated steep up-and-downs like the rest of non-moorland Devon. It would be the easiest of our three days.

The South West Odyssey, Day 33 (in purple)
But first - after breakfast, anyway - we had to drive down to the end of yesterday’s walk in Ugborough and then follow a route which climbed back up to Annapurna (our B&B). That suggests a fearsome ascent, but fortunately the owners named it, they said, not for its mountainous location but because when they bought the rambling old farmhouse it required ‘a huge mountain of work’.

If not actually Himalayan, the climb from Ugborough had seemed forbidding yesterday and looked no less worrying as Brian drove us down it this morning. Alison surveyed the fields on the hillside opposite. ‘It’s like a huge battenburg,’ she said, and indeed it was, but where is the marzipan? That’s the best bit.

A big battenburg in the fields beside Ugborough (picture: Alison)
Ignoring Francis’ directions Brian took his own route into Ugborough and again parked in the central square. Once booted up Francis set off out of Ugborough by the route Brian had driven in, the rest of us following like sheep though it was obviously the wrong way for pedestrians.

Following Francis out of Ugborough the wrong way
Light eventually dawned, we stopped, returned to the square and departed in the right direction.

Following Francis out of Ugborough the right way
In Devon climbs are routinely preceded by a hidden extra descent, in this case to cross the River Erme. Once over the Erme, and the A3121, a minor road started the steady climb.

Minor road at the start of the climb from Ugborough. It was steeper than it looks - honest.
To reach the top of the ridge at Mary Cross required over 3km of road walking shortened slightly but field paths cutting off a couple of corners. On one of these we encountered a field of sheep with lambs a month or two old. Sheep normally ignore walkers, or run away, but the lambs rushed over to us, clearly expected to be fed. They were, I suppose, quite cute, though I had to speak sharply to one that thought it appropriate to nibble the corner of my unfastened jacket. They followed us across the field, Francis being particularly attractive.

Francis leads his little flock, and Brian has a couple of followers, too
In a field corner spring was at work, but the bluebells on the bank behind the broom were still too sparse to make a good photo.

Broom in bloom
From the end of the field we paused to look back to Ugborough. After 40 minutes climbing it was not far below us, but the dip before the the ascent accounts for that.

Looking back to Ugborough from Shilston (picture: Francis)
The gradients were more modest than I had expected and interspersed with several flat sections, even one small descent to the Shilston Brook. I include the photo below largely to amuse Lucinda W but could a 24t truck even get on to this bridge?

Shilston Bridge
The ascent was accomplished without undue pain in just under the hour. We turned right towards Modbury, passed the pub where we dined last night and continued to the town centre. Four roads converge on Modbury town centre, one descending gently, the other three swooping down.

Modbury town centre
Everywhere from Modbury is up and if we did not entirely take the route we intended we did find our way up the hill to the south to a minor road where a convenient pallet in a farm gateway proved more enticing than lingering in a Modbury coffee shop – well why waste a good thermos?

Pull up a pallet. Above Modbury
The minor road took a looping detour to arrive at Hunts Cross, so we planned to cut off the loop by taking a field path up the hill opposite to a farm and then return to the road via the farm drive. Alison then noticed the right of way turned sharply at the farm without linking to the drive, which may or may not have been a problem, but if it was it would be a far longer detour than using the road. Unwilling to risk it, we trudged along the road which at first rose almost as sharply as the field path,…

The road rises towards Hunts Cross
… giving good views back over Modbury.

Looking back to Modbury (picture: Francis)
The weather had behaved far better today, there was no rain and even a little warmth in the sunshine. During the climbs and in the lee of hedges I would happily have removed my jacket, but there was a keen wind in more exposed sections, so I left it on.

We soon reached Hunts Cross and a kilometre later Seven Stones Cross - not all of Devon’s little crossroads have names, but a lot do.

Here we turned right towards the village of Kingston, its pub only 2km distant. Why, somebody asked, would we walk 2km to Kingston, and then 2km more to Ringmore when perfectly good paths would take us straight to Ringmore, which also has a pub, and was only 3km away?

The logic was unanswerable. We left the road to follow field paths skirting round some growing crops…

Field paths near Kington
….and then picked up Renton Lane which we followed for a kilometre to Marwell.

Renton Lane (photo: Francis)
A brief return to road walking was followed by an odd semi-circular field margin which deposited us on the road to Ringmore with only a few hundred metres to go. Here a permissive footpath had been mowed along a field boundary (thank you, whoever is responsible) so we could approach the end of the walk with the sea in sight and grass beneath our feet.

Approaching Ringmore and with the sea in sight
Mike’s car was parked at the village entrance, so we changed footwear and strolled through the delightful village to the appropriately named Journey’s End Inn.

And that, at 1.45pm, was indeed the end of the journey for this year, all that remained was to take a glass or cup of refreshment, return to Ugborough and start the long journey home. For all except Brian, it was a long journey, too, as delays on the M6 led to detours and arrival times around 8 pm.

The appropriately named Journey's End Inn, Ringmore
There is one more year left of this Odyssey, and then, after 12 years it will be over. And what next?

The South West Odyssey (English Branch)


  1. A lovely day today, another good blog and nice to feel the end of the whole Odyssey is in sight. Alison could not get a piece of Battenburg at The Journey's End but she seemed very happy with her massive slab of almond cake with cream instead!

    1. I failed to mention the almond cake, but I have to agree, it was very impressive both in quantity and (by the look of it) quality.

  2. I was indeed happy with my orange and almond cake, which was actually a dessert rather than a cake as in "tea and cakes" - which perhaps explains why it had fancy orange peel twiddles as well as cream, and cost £7. I felt it was "deserved" after the walk, I was hungry enough to really appreciate it, and I'm always extra appreciative when there actually is a proper cake that I can choose because its gluten free.

  3. Once again a very enjoyable three days walking, despite the hard hitting hail on day two! I have been amazed by the Industrial archaeology and your background research after returning has added to my understanding. These blogs make a terrific record of our wanderings ( I refuse to use the J word ) and I have to thank you for making the time and effort to do them. Naturally I cannot let you get away with 'dissing' the wonderful Jail Ale. I cannot deny Proper Job is very good, but it is Cornish and we were in Devon. You should have tried to argue for Exmoor Stag and then I would be on thinner ice!

  4. Y'know when Yanks use the word weak, they usually mean useless, as in "that's a poor excuse for a bridge", but we should learn to stifle our tittering while visiting a foreign land. It's a lovely bridge, as was the one in Ripon.