By: Blonde Two
A week or so ago I had the good fortune to be spending a night in the depths of the South Hams. If you ask anything about the South Hams round here you’ll get a number of comments depending on whom you are talking to. Here are a few examples:
‘Most expensive property outside London’
‘Don’t go there in the summer’
‘I’m not driving down all those tiny lanes again’
‘Get your tractor out of my way, I’m a Londoner you know’
If you don’t know, the South Hams is the bit of the South Devon Coast between Dartmouth and Plymouth. It includes a stunning section of the South West Coast Path, some of the most beautiful beaches in England, and lanes the size of a Scalextric track. If you think Dartmoor’s lanes are tricky to negotiate, don’t attempt the South Hams in summer until you’ve had a week’s course in vehicle reversing.
I was in the area for my three-yearly outdoor first aid course (amazingly achieved with full social distancing – well done to Rupert at Really Good First Aid!) After the first day’s learning I decided to take a walk and introduce myself to the River Erme. The Erme rises on Dartmoor surprisingly near to the Plym at Erme Pits (don’t go there, the bog grass is so long it should really be called ‘armpits). Because they are different sides of the watershed, the Erme Plym sisters take different routes to the sea. The Plym of course ends in Plymouth whereas the Erme meets the sea just south of Ivybridge at (wait for it) Erme Mouth. If you have walked the South West Coast Path you’ll have passed the mouth of both rivers. The Two Moors Way passes very near the source of the Erme.
Copyright Ordnance Survey 2020
I discovered a sign for the Erme-Plym trail on my river wander and decided to investigate further. This has to be one of the shortest trails on the Long Distance Walking Association website at only 13 (or 17) miles. It starts in Ivybridge and meanders (just like its rivers) across fields, down lanes and over bridges to Laira Bridge in Plymouth. Both Ivybridge and Plymouth have railway stations, making this trail a great one if you prefer to use public transport.
Definitely one to put on the exploring list.
I had a look back to see what my experiences were on that “expensive” stretch of the SWCP and found this which seems to support your claims:
22nd July 2016
“The sun seemed to get hotter all day. At Gara Rock there is a posh modern hotel on the path. I had plenty of water but thought I would have a treat. I had to go through a receptionist young girl to get to the bar. She spoke virtually no English and couldn’t understand what I was saying, nor could I understand her. The guy behind the bar was a wet lettuce, and when I selected a small bottle of lemonade ( far from my requirements, but the best of a bad job from their selection) charging then had to go back through the receptionist and they wanted £3.50 – more from frustration at the long winded procedures in my hot and bothered state than rebellion at the price I told them to keep their lemonade and walked out.”
17 miles, you say? Hmmm. At present fitness levels, I should think I’d better allow about ten days for that one. (Feeling somewhat bushed after two half days of butterfly surveying in glorious, sunny weather.) It seems ages since that would have been a piece of cake! Not that there were many butterflies around, but I did see two Silver-washed Fritillaries, which made up for a lot!