Cyril Shere on the coast path
Oh to be in Budleigh…
By Jo Bishop
As part of BBC Radio Devon's 25th anniversary celebrations, listener Cyril Shere takes us on his favourite walk from Budleigh Salterton.
I have to confess that this five mile route, suggested by retired Devon farmer Cyril Shere is also a particular favourite of mine.
Like the best ingredients for a short walk it combines being not too far to travel from home with some fantastic scenery, and a good choice of cafes and pubs nearby.
Cyril with wife Marion and their friend Janet
The walk starts from White Bridge, the first crossing above the mouth of the River Otter, on the edge of Budleigh.
I met Cyril, his wife Marion and their friend Janet, on a fine April morning as the sun was still burning off the early sea mist.
A real spring morning
Cyril, who's a sprightly 80, said: "It's a real spring morning, this morning, just right for a walk.
"This walk is so good - you have river, cliffs, you follow some old green lanes and then back down the river again. Such a variety of scenery, it's really lovely."
From White Bridge follow the east bank of the Otter out to the coast, passing a bird hide on your right.
Cyril in the Otter estuary bird hide
We stopped both to admire the fabulous view across the estuary and also spotted a grey heron, a little egret, and some shelducks. Later on the walk we saw skylarks and fulmars on the wing.
Once a month Cyril joins a walking group, who call themselves the Rockers. The founder members, including Cyril, were all part of the geology section of the Devonshire Association.
"We aren't all that fast. Several of us are over 80," he said. "But if we make it too long we're too late for lunch at the pub, so we have to watch for that."
With Cyril's knowledge of geology, he was able to explain the origins of the red sandstone cliffs, so familiar in parts of Devon.
On this east side of the river, the cliffs are known as Otter sandstone.
Cyril said: "They were laid down on top of the famous Budleigh pebble bed over 200 million years ago by a strongly flowing river, which flowed from the south to here, into desert. The desert conditions oxidise the iron in the sand and make it red."
The view to Budleigh Salterton
The route climbs eastwards through open fields offering fine coastal views to the right and a patchwork quilt of farming land to the left.
Cyril retired from farming at Bradninch 21 years ago. He left school during the war to work the land and drove the first tractor on the farm, an old Fordson. "It was nothing more than an engine and a three-speed gear box on wheels, but it was my pride and joy," he said.
The path continues to a final summit where you pass a brick building, a former WW2 lookout. A handily-placed bench offers a chance to catch your breath and admire the splendid view towards Ladram Bay and Sidmouth.
Home Thoughts from Abroad
Carefully descend the now narrow, stony path, and take the first footpath left signed for Otterton.
You shortly pass the less glamorous sewage works on your right and follow the stony lane ahead to a T-junction, where you turn left and shortly right to briefly pick up a tarmac lane towards Otterton.
It's a quintessential country lane, bordered by hedges and full of bird song. And it inspired Cyril to reveal, alongside geology and farming, another talent – poetry, as he perfectly quoted Robert Browning’s Home Thoughts from Abroad.
Walking through woods
"Oh to be in England
Reaching a dip, turn left where it's signed for Clamour Bridge, to follow an attractive tree-lined green lane between fields.
You pass en route an avenue of oak trees, and at a tarmac lane come across two impressive brick pillars. Cyril told me the story goes that a previous landowner was going to build a large country house but ran out of money.
The tarmac lane runs parallel to the River Otter, but is now closed to vehicles because of subsidence.
A path descends to the river to cross a metal footbridge to the west bank. Otterton with its historic mill, café, craft workshops, gallery, and also a pub is about a three-quarters of a mile walk to the right if you fancy a detour.
To return to White Bridge, head left down river and keep your eyes peeled for a kingfisher. The sun was still shining as we returned, and the blossom in full bloom on the trees.
It was, as Cyril said, "a real spring morning, just right for a walk."
And sitting at the computer typing this I find myself wishing, "oh to be in Budleigh…."
last updated: 29/04/2008 at 09:26
Cyril's Budleigh walk
Start/finish grid reference: SY 075 830
How to get to the start: Budleigh Salterton is off the B3178, between Newton Poppleford and Exmouth.
Distance: 5 miles, or can be extended into Otterton and also to Budleigh town.
Duration: 2 hours approx.
Terrain: Coast path, footpaths, and lanes.
Additional information: There are toilets, public houses and shops in Budleigh Salterton, also a pub and café in nearby Otterton.
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