Saturday, 17 May 2014

Weston Plats revisited: part 2

Further to Weston Plats revisited: part 1, some photos of the remaining section of Wednesday's walk, from Weston Plats to Sidmouth, taking in the odd landscape of 'Dunscombe Humps'.

From the Weston Plats information board, you follow the South West Coast Path up the western side of Weston Combe (a climb of around 75 metres). Near the top there's a detour to a viewpoint a little below the summit.

The path - steeper than it looks - lined by ramsons

Crags of Upper Dunscombe Cliffs, near Sidmouth
The continuity of scenery and landscape on the English south coast is very satisfying. All of these undercliff areas are formed when you have softer rocks capped by harder ones. Here, the underlying rock is the Triassic Mercia Mudstone); along the Lyme Undercliff it's Jurassic clays; and at the Isle of Wight Undercliff it's Cretaceous Gault clay. But in all cases, the capping is of Cretaceous Greensand; and the combination gives a near-indistinguishable, and for me powerfully evocative, terrain. They feel contiguous: as if I could walk down a path in one, and come out in another, and (as they're landscapes I remember vividly from childhood) in time as well as spatially. Compare:

Crags above Lyme Regis Undercliff

Crags above Isle of Wight Undercliff, near Ventnor
From the viewpoint, a further short climb takes you to the summit, and the odd landscape of Dunscombe Humps. Its terrain of mounds and wooded hollows, with heaps of flints, derives from former quarrying of the overlying Chalk for lime burning.

The South West Coast Path skirts Lincombe, another coastal combe; you can continue by the Coast Path to Sidmouth, via another 500-foot descent and ascent at Salcombe Mouth. But alternatively (as I did) you can take a route that loses less height: track inland from the head of Lincombe, and join the road through the hamlet of Salcombe Regis. Head downhill a little from the church, and another track leads up through the woods of Salcombe Hill. From there, you get striking (and much photographed) views of Sidmouth and the coastline near Ladram Bay, before descending through woods into Sidmouth. Due to cliff falls, the coast path no longer descends to the Alma Bridge crossing of the River Sid, but is diverted via residential roads to higher in the town.

- Ray

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