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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Walk 124 Budleigh Salterton to Lympstone, Exton, Topsham, A La Ronde

Walk 124 Budleigh Salterton to Lympstone with visits to Exton and Topsham and suggested trip to A La Ronde (Devon)

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 192
Distance: 11 miles or 17kmm approx  (includes walks around Exton and Topsham)
Difficulty: moderate
Terrain: cliff paths, road and lower coastal paths
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Bus 157 goes hourly between Budleigh and Exmouth, a train leaves hourly for Lympstone from Exmouth Station

Leave Budleigh Salterton by climbing up the coastal path on to the cliffs of West Down. From here there is a good view of Littleham Cove and Otter Cove with their distinctive red rocks. When I walked along here there was sporadic gun fire from the military range at Straight Point – the path must be strictly kept to and danger avoided. To the right is a huge caravan site of over 2000 units. The estuary of the River Exe can be seen in the distance.

Continue along the cliffs above Sandy Bay and down on to the road which leads in to Exmouth. Walk past the lifeboat station and to The Point then navigate along the roads to the main sands (Exmouth rail station is near here). The town was a fishing village from pre Roman times and be the end of the 12th century was one of Devon’s main ports. The town became a popular resort in the mid 18th century when many fine Georgian houses were built. The front is quite attractive with its distinctive clock-tower and wide sands (when the tide is out).

Follow the coastal path out of Exmouth and continue to Lympstone. This is a small attractive coastal village. To the north of Lympstone are the Lympstone Barracks – which house the Royal Marines.

The next two points can be reached by rail or car. Walking is possible but involves a tedious trudge along various roads inland.

Exton is on the single track rail line from Exmouth to Exeter. The mudflats, sandbanks and marshland of the estuary of the Exe are of international importance and provide thousands of habitats for birds and other wildlife.

At Topsham look out for the houses that have been converted from old storehouses and sail lofts. These date from the town/village’s heyday as a major British port and shipbuilding centre. There are several Dutch style buildings – these stem from the wool and cotton exported from here – Dutch bricks acting as ballast in the ships were brought in on the return journey.  The shop on the high street has a mural which reflects Topsham’s past.  The museum has interesting information about  Topsham including a section on the actress Vivien Leigh. Her connection with the village is through her one time husband Leigh Holman whose sister lived in the house which is now the museum. She founded the museum and made several donations connected with the actress.

Close to Lympstone is the unique building ‘A La Ronde’ owned by the National Trust. This 16 sided house, once owned by two spinsters, is well worth a visit. On their return from a grand tour of Europe in the late 18th century the ladies designed this unique building and included a shell gallery, feather frieze and other idiosyncrasies. This is best visited by car.

Photos show: Littleham, Otter Coves and Straight Point; Sands at Exmouth; Exmouth front and clock tower; single track railway line near Exton; Topsham; A La Ronde.