Meteorologically speaking Autumn has arrived and on yesterday’s walk there were definite signs of seasonal change and a hint of ‘farewell to summer’.
Whilst our summer weather hasn’t been the best, we did have some glorious days in June and early July. It’s just a pity that when the school holidays began, the weather deteriorated. But, that’s what happens when you’re subject to a temperate maritime climate and the vagaries of the jet stream.
Hereabouts for children in the state school system, this weekend also marks the end of the summer holidays and a return to school. Holidaying families are homeward bound which is why we avoided West Country trunk roads and the motorway when planning our walk. Instead we made our way across the Blackdown Hills towards Budleigh Salterton.
It’s not a new walk; we’ve done it every which way more times than I care to mention, but we never tire of the great sea views and the possibility of interesting wildlife along the River Otter. On this occasion we notched up a gulp of shags resting on a cliff ledge, a very regal kingfisher perched atop a spindly twig, greenfinches overhead and more trout than you could find at a fish-lovers’ feast. Sadly we’ve yet to see an an otter although, in recent years, they have returned to the river.
It’s a great shame that Eric didn’t get a photo of the kingfisher – he was too busy trying to shoo off a couple who were approaching and oblivious of the bird’s whereabouts. Nonetheless, in the hedgerows hips, haws and blackberries are in abundance and not likely to retreat at the sound of human activity therefore are readily photographed as are the pink tipped fluffy spikes of the rosebay willowherb which seem to crown every bank along our West Country lanes. I’ve described here why this particular plant brings back memories of my childhood.
Our walk was only 4.5 miles long but for some reason we were both quite tired by the end and refreshed ourselves at Otterton Mill before driving home.
We parked in South Farm Road just across the river bridge and took the coast path (right) towards Otterton Ledge, popping into the bird hide overlooking the estuary. On this occasion all we could see were flocks of very noisy Canada geese. We continued along the coast path and shortly after the WWII concrete observation hut we turned inland on a footpath signposted to Otterton.
At the next junction, we took a left then a right which indicated we should reach Clamour Bridge and the aqueduct. On previous walks we’d taken a right at the first junction which eventually takes you into Otterton itself. Our path on this walk led us to the footbridge close to two significant pillars. In former times this was the entrance to Otterton Park owned by the Rolle family. Crossing the footbridge onto the western bank of the River Otter we then turned left to follow the river back to our starting point.