Day forty-nine!! YES!! That means we will complete our entire loop of mainland Britain’s coast today. We are both feeling super excited!
Photo of the day
Driving on Uphill Beach
From Bridgwater we made our first coastal stop of the day at Burnham-on-Sea. As we arrived the sun was just rising over the local sailing club & the mouth of the River Brue.
The sailing club walls, with the colourful Burnham-on-Sea mural detracting from the security atop!
The warm morning light gave Burnham-on-Sea’s beach a deep bronze glow, contrasting with the bright white Low Lighthouse…
…and behind that, the High Lighthouse was towering above Burnham-on-Sea’s coastal houses.
Just outside Burnham-on-Sea, the 13th century St Mary’s Church at Berrow. As we wandered around, we realised the church had flood protection…
…as we walked behind the church, we realized why. Just the low-lying Burnham and Berrow Golf Course were separating it from Berrow Beach and the Bristol Channel. In the distance you can also just make out Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station, an area that we skipped at the end of yesterday’s journey.
We tiptoed down Berrow Beach.
Groyne posts lined (fairly) neatly down the beach. There’s always one annoying one out of place 😉
A solitary fisherman was patiently fishing in rather rough and chocolaty brown looking sea. Brean Down and its Fort in the background.
Driving past many static caravans hugging the coast, we arrived at the National Trust’s Brean Down. Despite the sunshine it was very cold and windy at the top of the limestone peninsula.
Looking back inland along the ancient field system to Weston-super-Mare to the north and Berrow to the south.
On the northern side of Brean Down, after quite a detour inland, we arrived back at the coast at Uphill Beach, with Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier coming into view. The beach was busy with kite-surfers.
Look how murky and churned-up that Bristol Channel water is!
Driving on Uphill Beach. In the distance you can just about see Steep Holm island off Brean Down in the middle of the Bristol Channel.
Pastel coloured beach huts lining Royal Sands as we drove into Weston-super-Mare.
Driving alongside the seafront promenade past Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier entrance. Like so many piers, it had been badly damaged by fire in 2008. After a whopping £39-million restoration it was reopened two years later.
Meanwhile further along the seafront, the Birnbeck Pier was looking a little sorry for itself. The closed and deteriorating pier is unique in that it links the mainland to an island (Birnbeck).
There was a small cafe and information hut near the original pier entrance. The volunteers explained the several regeneration attempts of the pier since it closed in 1994. But so far sadly nothing has come to fruition.
As we continued along the coast we stopped briefly at Sand Bay, with views north to the National Trust’s Sand Point.
The rather elegant Clevedon Pier, originally opened in 1869 as a landing for ferries crossing the Severn Estuary to South Wales.
If you had mentioned Portishead to us before this trip, we would have thought you were talking about the 90’s band. Anyway, it turns out the band Portishead was named after the place, and here we are! The Battery Point Lighthouse at the end of the esplanade.
Around the corner from Battery Point, we arrived at the surprisingly large and busy Portishead Quay Marina.
Before crossing over the River Severn, we decided to drive inland to another National Trust property, Tyntesfield House and Estate. The Gibbs family had made their wealth in the guano trade (bird excrement fertiliser). The Victorian Gothic mansion looked stunning in the afternoon sun.
A couple of handsome horses were pulling a cart up the estate driveway.
As we drove back along A403 and the Severn Estuary, we struggled to see anything worth taking a picture of. The area was mainly one long industrial estate. So we continued on our way crossing over the Severn Bridge….
… and back into Wales (sorry a little blurry as we drove by).
The north side of the estuary felt far more rural than the south. After a few little dead-end detours, we finally made a stop near Uskmouth Power Station, for a short walk at the RSPB’s Newport Wetlands. Although we didn’t see much bird-life today, we did see the East Usk Lighthouse peeping over the nature reserve.
The afternoon sun briefly came out again, illuminating the wetland meadows.
As we crossed the River Usk, the unusual Newport Transporter Bridge came into view. It was completed in 1906 based on a french design. It solved the problem of crossing the fast Usk currents, enabled tall ships to pass under, and came in on budget.
The ‘ferry’ is cleverly suspended like a gondola from a high level boom, and can carry 6 cars and 120 people every 7.5 minutes. OK that’s us geeked-out for the day 🙂
Leaving Newport for Cardiff, we made our final National Trust country house stop at the Morgan family’s Tredegar House. We have definitely squeezed every penny out of our National Trust membership on this coastal road trip 🙂 The volunteers were all in costume and the house was all decked out for Christmas inside, maybe a little too much. It reminded us of our Christmas visit to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Florida a few years ago – the decorations there were so OTT!
Our final stop of the day and road-trip! Back in Cardiff Bay, we had celebratory cappuccino and a wander around the Wales Millennium Centre (AKA Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru). The impressive arts and entertainment venue that was completed in 2009.
The centre’s sweeping staircase, one day we’ll have to come back for a performance.
Yay! We did it. Back where we started 49-days ago! That’s the entire British mainland coastal road trip completed. What an amazing journey! Go on, give it a go yourself… 🙂
It’s just three days to go before we complete our entire coastal road trip! Today we are finishing off north Cornwall, driving alongside its famous golden sandy beaches, before we re-enter Devon as we drive towards Bideford.
Photo of the day
The sun setting as we headed down to Hartland Quay.
Long shadows in the early morning sun. We made our first stop of the day looping back from Newquay to the National Trust’s Holywell Beach.
Walking past the sand dunes towards Carter’s Rocks (AKA Gull Rocks) off Penhale Point.
Shells and their shadows scattered across Holywell Beach.
The Gannel Estuary at Crantock Beach, beside Rushy Green.
So it was a morning full of beaches… next stop the famous Fistral Beach, a surfers paradise, but none out this morning – yet.
Views back across Newquay Bay from the cliffs above the curiously named Lusty Glaze Beach (The Times Beach of the Year 2017)…
…and the view north towards Bedruthan Steps and beyond to Trevose Head.
The wide open sands of Watergate Bay, as we headed along the scenic B3276 coastal road.
A small plane flying overhead into nearby Newquay Airport.
The River Menalhyl streaming down Mawgan Porth Beach.
Peering over the Carnewas cliffs at Bedruthan.
Dramatic views north past Pendarves Island, Queen Bess Rock, Diggory’s Island and Park Head. In the distance you can just about make-out Trevose Head Lighthouse.
Another beautiful empty beach west of Padstow at Treyarnon Bay.
The South West Coastal Path along Chair Cove, behind some rather expensive looking houses at Constantine Bay. Some locals walking a dog stopped to talk to us, and asked if we were bankers!?… it seemed many locals were!
We seemed to be the only people on Cornwall’s beaches this morning not walking a dog 😉
A little alley in Padstow, AKA ‘Padstein’ after its famous local celebrity chef – Rick Stein.
Small fishing boats lining the quay. Quiet at this time of year, but heaving with tourists in the summer.
The coastal village of Rock, beyond the sandbank in the River Camel. We will drive past Rock as we continue northeast, but as we had been last year, we won’t stop this time.
Looping all the way around the River Camel, we made a brief stop to watch the surfers on Polzeath’s Beach.
Driving past The Rumps we stopped at the cosy Port Quin inlet, taken care of by the National Trust.
Driving to Port Isaac we realised we were going to end up driving right through the tiny village. We had remembered the lanes were really narrow from our trip here last year, so re-routed to park at the top of the village and walk down.
The TV series Doc Martin is filmed in Port Isaac. To be honest we have never watched Doc Martin so weren’t as excited as some visitors….
Choppy waters at the mouth of Port Isaac looking towards Varley Head.
Port Isaac Bay, with views northeast to Treknow.
Catching another glimpse of Port Isaac Bay over the fields near St Teath.
Wow, what a perfect day to visit. Tintagel Castle is normally packed with tourists, today it was just us and a few seagulls. So if you want to avoid the crowds come on a Monday afternoon in November 😉
The remains of the 13th century castle perched on the jagged slate cliffs.
The castle had been built here by Earl Richard of Cornwall, believing it to be the birthplace of King Arthur.
Boscastle had been devastated by the flooding of the River Valency in 2002, but has since been lovingly restored.
Fishing cottages down the cobbled Valency Row in Boscastle.
Widemouth Beach, popular with surfers, with Dizzard Point in the distance.
The clouds were parting like a zip to reveal the blue sky above Widemouth Bay.
At last!…. beach huts again on Summerleaze Beach at Bude, we had been missing beach huts on this stretch of coast.
The entrance to the Bude Canal. Started in the 1820s with the idea to link the English and Bristol Channels… however it didn’t get very far with the arrival of the railway later in the 19th century.
Leaving Bude and heading along the Hartland Cornwall Heritage Coast towards Morwenstow, the view was dominated by the satellite dishes at GCHQ Bude.
Before leaving Cornwall we stopped at Morwenstow, Cornwall’s northernmost point. We had intended to walk to the Hawker’s Hut along the cliffs. But a very muddy field was slowing our progress, we weren’t exactly sure we were on the right track, and light was fading fast. So we made do with the Church of St Morwenna and St John the Baptist across the fields.
On the way to Bideford, we made our final stop of the day at Hartland Quay. As we drove down the coastal track the sunset reflected beautifully off the car bonnet. Originally we had planned to also stop further along the coast at Clovelly, but it seems it was probably closed, and it would have been dark by then anyway. Oh well, we will leave Clovelly for another trip!
We will be driving just over one-hundred miles today as we head along the south coast of Cornwall to Land’s End, and back up the north coast towards Newquay. The weather has improved from yesterday’s miserable effort – yay!
Photo of the day
The stunning Porthcurno Beach.
After leaving our base for the night at Helston, we drove straight down to the coast at Portleven to take in the early morning views back down the west side of the the Lizard Peninsula.
Portleven Harbour was just waking up on this early Sunday morning.
At Rinsey Cove we walked down to Wheal Prosper, an old engine house that was used to pump water out of undersea copper and tin mines. Even the National Trust car park had been built above an old mine shaft.
Wow, what a position for a house. Perched on Rinsey Head with magnificent views across Mount’s Bay to Mousehole, Black Rock and Lamorna.
Marazion and St Michael’s Mount
St Michael’s Mount across Mount’s Bay came into view as we drove towards Marazion. Over the years the original Abbey on the island was absorbed into a fort, then later a grand house built by the St Aubyn family. When we have time we would like to go back and take the ferry across to explore the small island properly.
Penzance was a curious town, and like Falmouth yesterday, it was larger than we had expected. Walking down Chapel street we came across the unusual Egyptian House.
Further down the road there was a Cornish pirate on the roof of the local pub (Admiral Benbow Inn).
Cutting down to the harbour, tall palm trees surrounded St Mary the Virgin Church.
The very smart and newly renovated Penzance Jubilee Outdoor Bathing Pool. Remind us, where are we again? It looked like the Mediterranean not Cornwall…
More pirates at the next pub!
The Newlyn South Pier Lighthouse at the entrance to Newlyn harbour, just southwest of Penzance. The harbour is home to the largest fishing fleet in Britain.
Yes, you read right, there is a place called Mousehole. What a cool name, though it is actually pronounced ‘Mowzall’. We stopped by the Rockpool Cafe to look at the views across Mount’s Bay….
…. and south to the granite cottages overlooking Mousehole’s harbour front. We then set-off to wind our way through its narrow Cornish lanes.
Continuing on towards Land’s End, we drove alongside a trout stream, through the beautifully wooded Lamorna Valley, down to Lamorna Cove.
Waste from the cove’s 19th and early 20th century granite quarries was precariously heaped down the hillside. The cottages looked a little to close to those huge boulders for comfort. The quarries had been used to provide granite to build London’s Thames Embankment.
The view out past Black Rock to Mount’s Bay. Wandering around the quay, we noticed this sign on the way back to the car… bit late.
The cove’s waters were crystal clear.
No chance of having our morning coffee here, the Lamorna Cove Cafe was closed until next year.
The truly spectacular open-air Minack Theatre at Porthcurno, with its stunning turquoise sea backdrop. The brainchild of Rowena Cade, who started building the theatre with her gardener in the early 1930s, a true inspiration. The entry fee also included access to a small but interesting exhibition telling the theatre’s story.
The theatre really was the highlight of our day. We would love to come back in season and join the 80,000 people that enjoy a performance here every year.
Porthcurno Beach, next to the Minack Theatre, was equally impressive. The golden sand and the turquoise sea were glowing in the midday sun.
Finally we reached Land’s End, the most westerly point of mainland England and Cornwall. Land’s End should be 838 miles by road from the most northeasterly point of mainland Britain, John o’ Groats. However, after leaving John o’ Groats on day 24, we traveled the long way around! 😉
The rather brutal looking Longships Lighthouse, just off Land’s End on Carn Bras.
Waves crashing over the rocky coastline surrounding Land’s End.
We had great views north from Land’s End across the rather choppy Whitsand Bay to Cape Cornwall.
Driving north along Whitsand Bay, we arrived at Pendeen and the National Trust’s Levant Mine. Like Wheal Prosper this morning, these were the remains of engine houses that pumped water from the undersea copper and tin mines.
The National Trust had restored many of the buildings, and the site contains the only remaining and operating Cornish beam steam engine in the world.
From the Levant Mine we could also see Pendeen Watch Lighthouse, looking out across Cornwall’s northwestern peninsula. Though it was tricky to get a good shot, as it was so windy.
As we passed another National Trust mine at Carn Galver, the coastal road started to feel more barren and windswept.
St Senara’s Church in the small village of Zennor. Alphabetically, Zennor is the last parish in Britain…. random fact of the day! 😉
Continuing along the B3306 towards St Ives we had sweeping views past Treveal to the Atlantic Ocean.
Arriving in St Ives, we made our first stop at Porthmeor Beach looking towards St Nicholas Chapel on the headland.
Waves were crashing against the rocks below the Southwest Coastal Path.
Salty sea spray filled the the afternoon air behind Porthmeor Beach and the Tate St Ives.
As we left the town we looked back at the Harbour Beach and the St Ives New Lighthouse at the end of Smeatons Pier. We had seen its identical twin lighthouse yesterday morning at Mevagissey…. who would have know this trip would lead to a deeper lighthouse interest and knowledge! 😉
Looking back across St Ives Bay and kite-surfers enjoying the breeze at Gwithian Beach.
We look a bit cold at windy Gwithian Beach!
Godrevy Island and its lighthouse, northeast along Gwithian Beach.
Godrevy-Portreath Heritage Coast
Driving along the cliff tops towards Portreath we stopped to peer over the edge of Hell’s Mouth towards Navax Point.
Then a little further along the coastal road, the red North Cliffs seemed to be crumbling away. You can just make out St Agnes Head in the distance.
Looking behind us, golden sun-rays were bursting through the cloudy late afternoon sky.
Continuing our journey towards Newquay, we made a quick stop to look down on Porthtowan Beach.
The National Trust Chapel Porth Beach was nestled into a cosy quiet cove just south of St Agnes Head.
The sunlight had almost gone by the time we reached Perranporth Beach, hence a slightly grainy picture! But the Watering Hole cafe lit up on the beach looked quite inviting. Newquay was our next stop for the night.
Today we will be driving down to the most southerly point of mainland Britain, having already visited the most westerly, northerly and easterly points earlier on this trip! The unpredictable British weather has generally been kind to us along our journey, but today will be very wet…
Photo of the day
Fishing boats at Cadgwith Cove.
After leaving St Austell we followed the St Austell River to Pentewan. We were going to get soaking wet if we had walked to the beach, so made do with visiting the village set-back from the seafront.
Leaving Pentewan heading to Mevagissey with views over the rolling fields to the coast.
Mevagissey was still slowly waking up on this rainy Saturday morning. Everyone else had clearly decided it was better to stay in bed.
Mevagissey still has a working fishing harbour, but it was very quiet this morning.
We had just driven down the crazy narrow Church Street into Gorran Haven.
A stream tumbling down Gorran Haven Beach.
A few paddle-boarders were testing the waves at Porthluney Beach, at the foot of the Caerhays Estate.
Portloe was a really cosy coastal village. It had a lovely genuine feel to it.
The small boat slipway nestled into the valley.
A rather rocky looking entrance to the tiny harbour.
As we arrived at the National Trust Pendower Beach the heavens opened and it absolutely poured with rain. After a while we made a quick dash for the beach with our umbrellas, and through the rain manged to catch views across Gerrans Bay.
We then continued our journey down the Roseland Peninsula to St Mawes.
We had visited St Mawes and the castle last year with Julian’s parents, so we just made a brief stop in the small town. However, we still managed enough time to squeeze in a morning coffee and sausage roll from the famous local Curtis bakery.
The passenger ferry to Falmouth in St Mawes Harbour.
St Just in Roseland
St Just’s Church tower peeping above the trees through the church lych gate.
The 13th century St Just’s Church in a charming wooded valley overlooking Carrick Roads.
Exploring the church grounds.
The church was quite compact inside, it felt almost chapel like.
King Harry Ferry
Avoiding a long trip north via Truro, we cut across the River Fal from Philleigh to Feock on the King Harry Ferry.
The ferry captain kept watch as we crossed the river.
A surprisingly large Dutch ship was anchored in the River Fal.
Exploring the National Trust Trelissick grounds, looking down to Channals Creek and the River Fal. Still raining!
We made our next stop at Falmouth, which was much larger and busier than we had been expecting. It actually made quite a nice change from the quiet fishing villages. We discovered the port is the busiest in Cornwall.
Yay! Finally we found some ‘beach huts’ in Cornwall at Falmouth’s Discovery Quay.
Falmouth’s Custom House Quay, with Flushing and Carrick Roads through the drizzle in the background.
From Pendennis Head we could just about see across to St Anthony Lighthouse south of St Mawes.
Gyllyngvase Beach just south of Falmouth, overlooking Falmouth Bay.
As we continued our journey south to the Lizard peninsula we crossed over the Helford River at Gweek.
The satellite dishes at Goonhilly Earth Station suddenly appeared on the horizon, so we made a quick stop at the nearby Goonhilly Downs National Nature Reserve to take a closer look.
Coverack Beach and Cove with views over to Lowland Point. The small village was still recovering from a flash flood that had damaged property and the sea wall earlier in the year.
A sunshine yellow fishing boat adding a bit of colour to this grey day.
Cadgwith Cove felt like another cozy and authentic Cornish village.
Cottages nestled around the narrow streets.
Finally we made it to The Lizard.
The Lizard Lighthouse, dating back to 1752, sitting above the lighthouse keeper cottages.
Lizard Point, the most southerly point of mainland Britain.
On day 17 of our coastal road trip we visited the most westerly point of mainland Britain at Ardnamurchan. On day 24 we visited the most northerly point at Dunnet Head. On day 35 we reached the most easterly point at Ness Point. Then today (day 45) we finally reached the most southerly point at Lizard Point!
And it was so quiet, just us and another couple. Hint, to miss the crowds visit on a cold rainy late Saturday afternoon in November! So that was our final stop of the day before we drove back up the western side of the Lizard peninsula to Helston for the night.
On day forty-four, after visiting Plymouth, we are heading into Cornwall. So join us on our journey along the beautiful southwest coast…
Photo of the day
A hungry seagull (aren’t they always?) at Polperro.
Fishing boats being prepared for the day at Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour.
Smeaton’s Tower and the Royal Citadel along Plymouth Hoe.
Smeaton’s Tower was originally built as the lighthouse at Eddystone Rock off Rame Head (we will visit later today). It was then moved to Plymouth Hoe as a memorial to John Smeaton, its engineer.
We were really impressed by Plymouth’s Royal William Yard. Originally built for the Royal Navy but now redeveloped with shops, restaurants, offices and a harbour. Very nicely done.
Sculptures on the lawn in front of the New Cooperage.
A recipe for Ships Biscuit curiously carved into a stone at the entrance to the Royal William Yard.
On the ferry heading from Devonport to Tor Point. Travelling west to Cornwall on the ferry was free (you only pay sailing east). We like a bargain! 😉
More watery roads along the Cornish coast.
Bright green fields above St John, looking down towards Whitsand Bay.
Although we entered Cornwall by ferry at Tor Point, there was also a passenger ferry landing at Cremyll.
Looking back across the River Tamar to the Royal William Yard.
The clock at Cremyll’s ferry landing.
The grand Mount Edgcumbe House overlooking Cremyll and the River Tamar.
Driving through Kingsand to Cawsand we got stuck behind a delivery truck. With no way to pass, you just have to be patient. We used the opportunity to nosey in the windows of the cute coastal cottages.
Cawsand Beach and Bay. Just out of the picture there was a couple preparing for a morning swim around the bay. Rather them than us.
Painted tiles decorating the waiting shelter of the seasonal Cawsand Ferry.
The clouds started to clear as we arrived at Rame Head, so we had a little hike up to St Michael’s Chapel on the headland.
There were amazing panoramic views along the coast, looking as far east as the Great Mew Stone in Wembury Bay.
Looking back down the headland to the National Coastwatch Institution buliding by the car park.
Whitsand Bay and Tregantle Fort above the cliffs to the northwest.
There were plenty of Dartmoor ponies precariously grazing around the headland cliffs.
Choppy waters at the foot of the cliffs.
We then continued along the coastal road past Treninnow Cliff and Freathy.
Rame Head silhouetted against the bright sunlight across Whitsand Bay.
The 1865 Tregantle Fort along Military Road. Still open and working. As we drove past we could see training in progress.
Looking down the wrinkly coast to Portwrinkle 😉
Portwrinkle Beach with Rame Head still visible in the distance.
Small boats neatly stored on end by the water’s edge at Portwrinkle.
Driving through a patchwork of fields along the B3247 to Downderry.
All along this coastal journey we’ve passed so many abandoned farm houses and barns… so they haven’t all been converted yet!
Amazingly Rame Head and St Michael’s Chapel were still visible in the distance from Seaton Beach.
We stopped at bustling East Looe for our first Cornish pasty. As we looked across the East Looe River to West Looe, the seagulls were keeping a beady eye on us (or rather our pasties).
Looking down the breakwater to the calm sea in Looe Bay.
The breakwater walls were full of wooden wedges. Very curious. Maybe to help hold the wall together?
A telescope by the sandy East Looe Beach.
Our next stop was at Polperro. The village was admittedly very quaint, but felt very surreal, like a ghost town. Most of the shops and cafes were closed and there was hardly anyone around, unlike our previous stop at Looe. Clearly a tourist village now, which is a real shame as out-of-season there seemed to be no locals to keep the place alive, so it somehow lacked soul. We also had to pay the highest parking charge of our entire British coastal road trip here too! Maybe that’s why it was so quiet. We only stayed 45 minutes but had to pay £4.50 to park, which was the minimum charge (3 hours).
At least the seagulls seemed happy with the range of seafood.
The locally famous ‘House on the Props’, precariously hanging over the stream.
Winding our way through more narrow country lanes we passed the small hamlet of Lansallos, and Saint Ildierna Church.
The lanes got narrower and narrower as we passed Lantivet. Grass growing down the middle of the road is never a comforting sight. Fortunately it was so quiet, so we didn’t have to make any difficult reversing-all-the-way-back-down-the-country-lane manoeuvers!
Passing the secluded National Trust Lantic Bay.
Gribbin Head in the distance from the headland at Polruan.
From Polruan we looked across to Fowey and its Parish Church.
We then took the Bodinnich Ferry crossing over the River Fowey. Taking the ferry saved us a 15 mile detour (and a precious 35 minutes of daylight) inland via Lostwithiel.
Looking back to Bodinnich Landing as we crossed to Fowey.
We squeezed our way through Fowey’s narrow streets (fortunately one way).
Picturesque Charlestown, our final stop of the day before heading to St Austell for the night.
Square rigger tall ships reflecting in the small Georgian harbour. The attractive harbour was originally built for coal imports and copper exports. More recently the harbour has been used for period film and TV productions.
Wow! The weather today was stunning for late October. The freshness of the bright blue sky over Devon reminded us of the time we spent living in California, though Devon was a little colder 😉
Photo of the day
Another early start as we watched the sunrise over Paignton Pier.
Taking a look under the 238 metre long pier.
Julian had many fond memories of Broadsands Beach, having spent many summers here as a kid.
As well as many working fishing boats, there was also an interesting replica of Sir Francis Drake’s The Golden Hind ship sitting in the harbour.
Brixham Marina. William Prince of Orange and his Dutch army landed at Brixham in 1688 (the marina was built much later!). Many locals still have Dutch surnames.
The lighthouse at the end of Brixham’s long breakwater, with Paignton Pier in the background. The breakwater was great for a brisk walk and for its panoramic views across Torbay.
Driving along typically narrow Devon lanes, we arrived at Berry Head. As it was a clear day, we had lovely views west past Sharkham Point and St Mary’s Bay.
The lighthouse at Berry Head, the shortest lighthouse in Great Britain (6 metres), but also one of the highest above sea level (58 metres).
Jarno checking directions on Berry Head’s Compass.
A short drive southwest took us to the River Dart, where we crossed from Kingswear to Dartmouth on the Higher Ferry. Great timing too, as the ferry was just boarding as we arrived, so we drove straight on.
Looking up the River Dart on the short ferry crossing.
The Britannia Royal Naval College sitting above Dartmouth.
Plenty of yachts moored in the Dart Marina.
Driving along more narrow lanes took us to Dartmouth Castle, with stunning views across the Dart to some fabulous looking houses over at Kingswear.
The 15th century Dartmouth Castle next to Saint Petrox Church, overlooking the mouth of the River Dart.
Looking down the steep cliffs to Castle Cove.
A clear view across Start Bay past Blackpool Sands and Slapton Sands. We could hardly believe this was Devon at the end of October.
Waves crashing on Blackpool Sands.
Looks can be deceptive, it was actually pretty chilly whilst taking a break at The Venus Cafe.
Looking back down on Blackpool Sands as we continued our coastal drive.
Driving to Strete we passed sheep enjoying the autumn sunshine in the fields above Forest Cove.
Strete Gate Beach at the north end of Slapton Sands, which is technically a bar (a coastal one, not one you go for a drink in).
At the southern end of Slapton Sands we reached Torcross, and the Sherman tank at the Exercise Tiger Memorial.
The views from Start Point across Freshwater Bay and Start Bay were breathtaking. We could see all the way back along the coast we had just driven along in the morning.
Hallsands perched on cliffs next to Start Point.
Walking along the South West Coastal Path to Start Point Lighthouse.
The Grade II listed Start Point Lighthouse.
As we walked back along Start Point’s ridge, we had super views looking west along the South West Coast Path towards Mattiscombe.
A lone paraglider above the Start Point cliffs.
More narrow coastal lanes as we drove to and from Start Point. There were not many passing places, but fortunately it was very quiet this Monday morning. However, we then attempted to drive to East Prawle, but the lanes got so narrow that both sides of the car were being scratched by the hedges! At the first opportunity we then tried to make it back to slightly larger lanes. One recommendation, best to come here in a small car, a car you don’t care about or a tractor.
A typical Devon village road winding its way between cottages at West Charleton.
The low autumn sun reflecting on Bowcombe Creek near Kingsbridge.
Views over Lincombe to the Kingsbridge Estuary, along the road to Malborough.
Looking across Batson Creek, from Salcombe to East Portlemouth.
Be careful where you drive! Union street ended abruptly at the lifeboat station. Salcombe really was a maze of tiny roads. Fortunately, as it was a quiet day out-of-season, we were really lucky to park on a street right down by the harbour.
The local pub squeezed into the waters edge by the ferry landing.
We wound our way up through more tiny lanes to Overbecks, a National Trust property overlooking Salcombe. Unfortunately it had closed for the season, so we peeped over the garden walls to take in the the views across Salcombe Harbour and the Kingsbridge Estuary.
The Outer Hope Beach at Hope Cope, and our first glimpse across Bigbury Bay to Burgh Island.
Lobster pots sitting along the sandy Inner Hope Harbour.
Boats tied up on the Inner Hope Beach.
On our way to Bigbury-on-Sea, we somehow ended up on a shortcut alongside the River Avon at Bridge End, near Aveton Gifford.
The aptly named Tidal Road had little protection from the River Avon. Anyway, we continued on our way and were fortunately fine.
We arrived at Burgh Island just as the sun started to go down.
The Island is most famous for its Art Deco Burgh Island Hotel. Agatha Christie wrote a few of her books whilst staying here. Julian was also lucky enough to stay here several years ago (in the Agatha Christie room), and loved it!
Newton Creek surrounded by Noss Mayo on the opposite side, and Newton Ferrers on our side.
Great, we made it to Wembury Beach, our final stop just before the daylight disappeared. There was a little stream running down the beach, which made a great end-shot for the day. That’s all for day forty-three. On Day forty-four we will continue our coastal road trip from Plymouth.
Today we will be driving 130 miles along the Dorset coast and into Devon. The distance is a little more than we had originally planned, as we decided to visit Portland Bill early this morning, rather than yesterday evening. The clocks also went back today, so we made an early start soon after sunrise.
Photo of the day
The cliffs at Sidmouth.
An early Sunday morning stop at Weymouth Beach, and someone was already going for a swim in the sea. Looks chilly.
Weymouth’s Drawbridge in the old town harbour.
We were the only people walking around the historic harbour on this very quiet Sunday morning.
We stopped next at Nothe Fort, but it hadn’t opened yet for the day, so we drove on to Sandsfoot Castle. The castle had been completed in 1541 by Henry VIII to defend against attacks from the French and Spanish.
Isle of Portland
After a quick stop at Portland Castle at the bottom of the hill, we continued on to The Olympic Rings Stone Sculpture. There were great views across Weymouth and Chesil Beach stretching west as far as the eye could see.
Portland Bill’s current working lighthouse at the tip of the Isle.
The previous Old Higher Lighthouse, over a hedge and across fields at the top of Branscombe Hill…
…and its sister, the Old Lower Lighthouse.
Driving back to the mainland, we drove along the edge of Chesil Beach (AKA Chesil Bank), that we had seen from the Olympic Rings. The 18 mile long shingle beach is one of the largest in Britain.
Driving inland, almost parallel to Chesil Beach, through rolling green fields towards Abbotsbury Abbey.
Looking back-down to Chesil Beach, past cows enjoying the lush grass.
As we continued along the coastal road between Abbotsbury and Swyre, we had far-reaching views west along the Jurassic Coast.
The distinctively coloured East Cliffs, close to where one of West Bay’s original fishing harbour’s lay. The rich colour of the cliffs was caused by the oxidation of pyrite.
The remains of the old trainline and station, now a cafe.
A lone boat on Seatown’s pebble beach.
A busy lunchtime at Charmouth, as beach walkers enjoyed the views towards the Golden Cap.
Views from The Cobb across Sandy Beach. Lyme Regis was absolutely packed with tourists, we were really lucky to find a parking space.
Leaving Dorset behind, we continued into Devon. After driving through Seaton, we made our next stop at the quaint little fishing village of Beer. It was surprisingly quiet. Perhaps everyone had gone to Lyme Regis for the day?!
Fishing boats resting on their day-off under the white chalk cliffs.
The bright red Triassic cliffs of Sidmouth, glowing as the sun shone through a break in the clouds.
Collecting donations for the local lifeboat, but looking a little odd…
More luminous red cliffs surrounding Budleigh Salterton’s bay and pebble beach.
Looking into the sun across the River Exe to Dawlish Warren from Exmouth Beach.
We continued our journey by looping north to cross the River Exe near Exeter. We then drove back down the west side of the Exe before stopping briefly at Cockwood Harbour.
A giant pink elephant towering above one of the funfair rides at Dawlish Warren.
Exmouth beyond Dawlish Warren Beach and the River Exe.
The sun starting to set as we arrived at Teignmouth Pier and Beach.
Regatta boats neatly lined up on Shaldon Beach, with Teignmouth in the background on the other side of the River Teign.
Shaldon was a lovely little fishing village to potter around, with its cosy lanes and Georgian cottages.
Entering Torbay, we made our first stop at Thatcher Point, overlooking Thatcher Rock, and over to Brixham and Berry Head in the distance. Julian already knew Torbay well, as his parents and grandparents previously had homes there.
As the clocks had gone back today, the evening light faded early. So we made our final stop of the day in Torquay Harbour before driving to Paignton for the night.
On day forty-one we are continuing our road-trip along the Dorset coast from Highcliffe. We will then follow the beautiful Jurassic Coast (a World Heritage Site) from Studland Bay, as we continue to Weymouth.
Photo of the day
Our first stop of the day at Highcliffe Castle, considered one of the best remaining examples of Romantic and Picturesque style architecture in the country.
Early morning views looking east along Highcliffe Beach.
Looking past the Steamer Point Nature Reserve towards Avon Beach and its rows of colourful beach huts.
A tranquil Mudeford Quay. We had never seen it so quiet (tip – go 8am in the morning!). On the other side of the water, the tip of Hengistbury Head and its pricey beach huts.
Fisherman cottages at Mudeford Quay.
The local fishermen were busy getting ready for the day. Lobster Pots, buoys and fishing nets piled high on the quay.
The Norman House and Christchurch Priory alongside the River Avon flowing through Christchurch.
Looking east from Overcliff Drive above Boscombe Beach. In the distance you can just make out The Needles on the western tip of the Isle of Wight.
A touch of Hollywood in Dorset… Boscombe Pier was recently used in the filming of Dame Joan Collins’ latest film ‘The Times of Their Lives’.
Bournemouth Pier with Studland Bay and the Isle of Purbeck in the background, where we will be heading in the afternoon.
Branksone Chine Beach
It had been a glorious morning until we arrived at lovely sandy Branksone Shine Beach, when suddenly grey clouds started forming above our heads.
We looped around Sandbanks to nosey at the flashy houses (one the most expensive areas of real-estate in the UK). Unimpressed, we had a quick stop at Sandbanks Beach, then continued around a rather grey Poole Harbour.
Stopping for lunch at Wareham’s Saturday Market by the river.
Corfe Castle in the middle of the Isle of Purbeck. It was a really busy day at the National Trust property. Lots of families were out enjoying the sunshine that had gratefully reappeared.
How cool is this! A Teddy Bear Zip Wire. Now we know why it was so busy at the castle 😉
Kids were queuing up to send their teddy bears (at quite some speed) down the line.
There were also traditional craft demonstrations, including this leather smith.
As Halloween was around the corner, the castle was suitably decorated.
Heading back to the sea at Studland Bay, there were great vistas back over Poole Harbour.
Studland Beach was surprisingly busy with walkers. The beach stretched passed Knoll Beach, all the way around Studland Bay and Shell Bay, almost back to Sandbanks on the other side of the Poole Harbour entrance.
The Dragon’s Teeth behind Studland Beach were used as defences against possible enemy tanks.
Old Harry Rocks at the south end of Studland Bay.
Looking back across a calm Swanage Bay.
Waiting for a coffee and a cake at Durlston Castle, allowed us time to take in the great views back along the coast past Durlston Bay, Swanage Bay and the Old Harry Rocks.
The Great Globe, at Durlston National Nature Reserve. One of the largest stone spheres in the world. It was constructed in Greenwich from Portland stone in 1887 then shipped to Swanage.
Anvil Point Lighthouse right on the southern tip of the Durlston National Nature Reserve.
Rolling landscape driving down a small toll road through the Smedmore Estate to Kimmeridge Bay.
Clavell Tower above Kimmeridge Bay.
Bands of clay and bituminous shale crumbling down the Jurassic cliffs around the bay.
Canoe lessons in the sheltered bay, which is part of the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve.
The rather grand Creech Grange near Steeple on the way to Lulworth.
Cute holiday-let cottages in the touristy village of Lulworth Cove.
Parking in the village was expensive, everyone at the ticket machine was moaning and joking at the cost, which is a bit of shame when you feel ripped-off before you’ve even visited the place. We weren’t really impressed with the shops or information centre either. Shame the land isn’t managed by the National Trust. OK rant over… 😉
Anyway, the actual cove itself was stunning.
Amazing rock formations above Stair Hole.
Our final stop of the day at Durdle Door, before driving to Weymouth. More stunning coastal landscapes and views, looking down on Man O’War Beach and St Oswald’s Bay.
Walking down a steep coastal path and steps, we arrived at Durdle Door. Fortunately it wasn’t too busy, as it was the end of the day.
Back at the top of the cliff, even more stunning views to Bat’s Head.
On day forty we started the next of our mini four day Coastal Road Trips, this time from Worthing in West Sussex to Plymouth in Devon. Today we are heading as far as Highcliffe in Dorset, and the weather looks super for the end of October.
Photo of the day
Dappled sunlight along the coastal country lane between Buckler’s Hard and Lymington.
We tried to make Elmer, west of Worthing, our first stop of the day, but we couldn’t find a way to the beach (seemed private access only). So we continued passed the local Butlins to Bognor Regis Beach, with views west towards its pier.
Further along Bognor Regis Beach, and the view towards Pagham.
We then drove down the Manhood Peninsula towards Selsey Bill. Doesn’t the beach look familiar? To be honest many of the beaches along the West Sussex coastline seemed quite similar, nothing wrong with that, but just made the photos look quite similar too!
An interesting tower above what turned out to be a care-home, overlooking the most southerly point of Selsey’s Beach.
Catching our first glimpse of Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower in the distance as we looked west along the coast from East Whitering’s Bracklesham Bay.
Dropping in for a quick coffee with Julian’s sister and brother-in-law in the county town of Chichester. We ended up with a bit of a family day as we stayed with Julian’s parents in the evening, and also popped into visit one of his brother’s and his family.
Hayling Island’s seafront, with the Funland Amusement Park just further down the beach.
Yay, more beach huts to add to our beach-hut-photo-collection 😉
Plenty of Seaguls at Eastney Beach.
A pair of legs enjoying the October sunshine!
The Yomper Statue outside the now closed Royal Marines Museum (which will be moving to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard).
Southsea Castle from the 16th century, and its lighthouse from the 1820s, overlooking the Solent.
The Portsmouth Naval Memorial on the front of Southsea Common as we entered Portsmouth.
The Solent and the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour were bustling with activity, with all kinds of boats, ships, yachts, ferries…
… and hovercraft, sailing off in all directions.
Spitbank Fort sitting in the Solent, now a luxury hotel and venue. We checked the price for a night stay, it was a little on the high side…. but afternoon tea is a little more reasonable 😉
One of Portsmouth’s latest landmarks, the Spinnaker Tower that was opened in 2005. We then drove past Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. There seemed to be a lot to see and do, so we’ll be back when we have more time to explore properly.
We then skirted around the Southampton Water, past Hamble, Southampton and Hythe and back down to Calshot Castle at the end of a spit overlooking The Solent.
The views of Fawley Refinery, reminding us of Day 2’s view from Pembroke to Milford Haven.
Calshot Castle was a great vantage point for viewing the busy Solent.
Our next stop at the Lepe Country Park. The views across the Solent to Cowes on the Isle of Wight (and into the sun, hence the glow!).
Lepe Lighthouse (AKA Beaulieu River Millennium Beacon) sticking out above the trees, just after Lepe Country Park.
Crossing over the Beaulieu River, we stopped to take pictures across the Mill Dam at Beaulieu.
Buckler’s Hard on the west side of the Beaulieu River.
Continuing on the coastal road from Buckler’s Hard, there were beautiful views across the fields near St Leonards Grange.
Loved the soft sun-rays, and the dappled light on the country lane as we continued to Lymington.
As we continued into the New Forest, we arrived at the major yachting harbour and marinas at Lymington, home to several world famous sailing regattas.
The cobbled Quay Street.
We stopped by Keyhaven near Milford on Sea, as we were curious if we could see Hurst Castle in the distance (we couldn’t). The ferry to Hurst Castle leaves from Keyhaven, but we had missed the last one of the day.
Milford on Sea
Jarno filming from the top of the cliffs at Milford on Sea, towards Hengistbury Head and Swanage.
Barton on Sea
As the sun set, we made our final stop of the day at Barton on Sea, before continuing to Highcliffe for the night.
Today we are driving from historic Rye in East Sussex along the coast to Worthing in West Sussex. Storm Ophelia was approaching the UK today. As the day progressed we started to see a very unusual dark and orange looking sky, caused by the storm pushing Sahara sand and Iberian wildfire smoke our way.
Photo of the day
Seaford Beach, with Storm Ophelia on its way.
Our first stop of the day in Rye, the small ancient town was so quaint with its cobbled streets.
St Mary Church’s turret clock is the oldest working clock of its type in the country.
Tudor houses fronting on to the churchyard.
The 13th century Ypres Tower town defences. In 1377 the church and town had been looted, set on fire and destroyed by French invaders!
The steep cobbled Mermaid Street. Although it was an early Monday morning there were already a few other tourists pottering around. Glad we hadn’t been here on a busy summer weekend.
The town is now 2 miles inland as a result of the River Rother starting to silt up 500 years ago. So we drove down to the coast to view Rye Harbour.
Winchelsea Beach. The town, a bit further inland, dates back to the 13th century. It was Britain’s first properly planned ‘new’ town.
The view from The Stade at Hastings back to Rock-a-Nore Beach and East Hill.
The Stade Beach in front of Hastings Old Town.
The tall black wooden Net Shops on the beach front at Hastings. They were used to dry fishing nets.
The recently restored Hastings Miniature Railway.
Looking up All Saints Street in The Old Town.
We had just walked past The Crown Pub, which had just been voted the best place to have a pint in the UK. Unfortunately we only read that after leaving Hastings….
More colourful beach huts on Bulverhythe Beach, just a few miles west of Hastings.
The elegant Bexhill-on-Sea Promenade.
The De La Warr Pavilion on the sea front at Bexhill, now a local centre for contemporary art. Bob Marley had his first ever UK performance there too.
Driving past some rather large houses we reached Cooden Beach.
Yet more colour-coordinated beach huts along Eastbourne Beach.
The view along Eastbourne Beach to the pier. By now we were starting to see the weird coloured pre-Storm Ophelia sky.
Caterpillar trucks were shifting around shingle on the beach, to restore the sea defences in preparation for winter storms.
Really dramatic views over the chalk cliffs at Beachy Head to the Lighthouse.
Don’t look down….. you could walk right up to the cliff edge!
Belle Tout Lighthouse, now a private residence. In 1999 it had to be moved 17 meters back from the cliff edge to save it falling off due to coastal erosion. It was featured in the BBC’s ‘The Life and Loves of a She-Devil’ and James Bond’s ‘The Living Daylights’.
Parts of the original building and foundations, right on the cliff edge. In the distance you can see the cliffs of the Seven Sisters past Birling Gap.
The bright white Seven Sisters chalk cliffs viewed from the National Trust managed Birling Gap.
It felt like the end of the world. The lighting was totally surreal. Such a dark sky in the distance over Newhaven, contrasting against the bright blue-green sea, and the warm colours of the pebble beach. Storm Ophelia was on its way.
Another palette of candy coloured beach huts on Seaford Beach.
The lighthouse at the end of the breakwater at Newhaven, we had also seen it in the distance from Seaford.
The path down to Newhaven Fort, with Seaford Bay in the background. The fort was the largest defence built on the Sussex coastline.
As we know Brighton well, having had our UK base and home there for the last few years, we just stopped briefly to take photos of the famous Brighton Pier (AKA Brighton Palace Pier).
The Brighton Pier is now the only surviving pier at Brighton, the Royal Suspension Chain Pier was its predecessor, but you can still see remains of the West Pier opposite the British Airways i360 tower.
The long promenade at Hove, Brighton’s coastal neighbour.
Actually we didn’t stop at Southwick, but we got stuck in a traffic jam along the River Adur, so managed this picture of a fishing boat from the car window.
Lancing beach was really busy with kite-surfers, unfortunately the photos were pretty terrible (I blame the weird pre-storm lighting), but we caught them on video, check below.
Looking west towards Worthing Pier in the distance.
Worthing, our final stop on this four day part of our Coastal Road Trip. The original pier dates back to 1862 though through fire and storm damage it has been rebuilt and updated many times over the years.