Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Steam trains and coastal trails

The weather turned foul again, promising gales and rain, so we took the Paignton & Dartmouth Steam railway from Kingswear and chuffed and puffed up the hill and over the top to Paignton, stopping at a couple of halts, and enjoying the elegance of the old second class carriage. Steam, smoke and rain obscured the view, and condensation misted the inside of the windows, but by opening the sliding windows wider than the two recommended draught prevention lines one could see glimpses of coats and rows of beach huts in pastel shades along the grey curve of small bays.

In Paignton we said farewell to our nephew, before shouldering a pack and catching a bus to Brixham. Here we furnished ourselves with a hot pasty and a map of the coast path and then set off in steady rain to Berry Head, looking down on the busy fishing port below. Struggling along in full red foul weather gear, I was soon drenched in sweat and finding it difficult to live with my energetic partner, who was fully committed to the 12 miles back to Dartmouth.

At Berry Head we headed out through the rain to the world’s shortest (2 metres) and highest (60 metres of cliff) lighthouse, and then sloshed back to the cafĂ© in the old fortified guardhouse, where baked potatoes restored the blood sugar. My new waterproof jacket appeared useless – either because I was sweating too much, or because water came straight through, so I tried the alternative of discarding my shirt and wearing the fleece next to the skin. This seemed to be a much better alternative, and I enjoyed the rest of the trek, although lugging our ludicrously heavy rucksack up one hill had me weaving like a drunk at the top.

Finally we found our way downhill along an ancient track between steep walls, with a stream running over the stone slabs, and this eventually came out into the cliff edge above the grand houses along the entrance to Dartmouth harbour.

That evening we ate on board, and fell asleep early.

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