Striding out

Without having a firm plan to do so, it seems that I am now walking the Tamar Way coast to coast
path from Cremyll on the south coast following the Tamar river up to its source and on to
Morwenstow on the north Cornwall coast. In recent months it has received some publicity on
Countryfile and local news channels which got me curious. I have now bought a detailed map of the
route as the way markers are a bit few and far between away from the more populated areas and
where walking the coastpath requires that you keep the sea on either the left or the right, depending
which way you walk it, this path switches from one side of the river to the other and can be in
Cornwall or Devon. After doing a lovely circular route a week earlier involving two ferries across
the Tamar, the next stage saw me and Eddie catching the train from Bodmin Parkway up to the
Devonport stop in Plymouth. Eddie really enjoys travelling by bus with people speaking to him
very often before speaking to me and he has ridden in different taxis when walking the coastpath
but had yet to travel by train and I was a little apprehensive how he would cope but I needn’t have
worried as he leapt aboard and was soon sitting at my feet on the carpeted floor near the vent with
the warm air coming through – perfect.
The first few miles of the walk were on the road which runs alongside the towering walls of
Devonport dockyard with no view of what lay behind. Babcock Marine is the company that runs the
dockyard making, maintaining and refitting naval ships and is a huge employer in the area though
there have been times when it’s future looked really uncertain. The historical features of the area are
all around with some very interesting streets and equally interesting looking houses which would
have housed some of the more important naval men of the day. There were tons and tons of cut
granite used in making the streets and slipways with some impressive flights of steps, it would have
been brought close to where it was required by ships on the river and a huge amount of manpower
to lay it would have been available nearby.
I was glad when the route left the heavy traffic and exhaust fumes and went along a wooded path
coming out at a little inlet with a healthy looking reedbed despite the amount of plastic bottles and
crisp packets in the mud. Rejoining the road I was a little surprised when it came along to a small
harbour and almost a hamlet at Riverside nestled right beneath the Royal Albert Bridge. I had
noticed some little dwellings from the train window at various times when travelling over the bridge
but never gave it much thought, I was delighted to make it’s acquaintance walking through before
climbing up a very steep hill to come out beside the A38 on the Tamar Bridge. I was relieved to find
there is a public toilet at the Plymouth end of the bridge which saved a trek into Saltash and it is
also roomy enough to take Eddie inside rather than tying him to the railings outside, all little
problems that don’t occur when walking in more remote areas with plenty of gorse bushes around!
The next part of the path went along the edge of St Budeaux before going over the A38 and on to
Ernesettle before picking up the river again and going around to the Budshead Creek where there
were numerous birds and waders feeding in the mud that the receding tide had exposed. It was a
lovely level walk through parkland and woods following the creek around to Tamerton Foliot which
is a lovely village with it’s village green, church and primary school where the children were
shouting and running around happy to be out of class for the dinner break. It was raining lightly
now so we stopped at the bus shelter and I took my boots off to put some freezer bags over my
socks to prevent getting wet feet later which proved to be a good idea. Leaving the village behind
we climbed a steep hill to pick up and join in on the Tamar Valley Discovery Trail, we were now
walking alongside the River Tavy mostly in a beech woodland and a short stretch on the road where
the low bridge over a ford was blocked by sticks and twigs that had washed down and jammed
causing a 20ft wide flood of water, oh heck what now?! I got Eddie to go in front of me along the
edge of the large stream to where it narrowed enough for me creep along a fallen tree and to take a
leap of faith, years ago I may well have jumped clear of the water but one foot went in and the
water was over the top of my boot, all I can say is it was a stroke of good planning that I had put
freezer bags on my feet!
Continuing along, the path passes in front of Maristow House (above), an interesting looking house painted
salmon pink, not my choice of colour but not my house either. The path turned off the road and
went across a weir where Eddie had to take his chance and pay attention or end up getting wetter
than me as there was a good flow of water in the river. When I had crossed I looked behind and saw
the ladder for the salmon to get up and over the weir when they are migrating upstream to spawn.
Another steep climb away from the river, where up on the road the Tamar Way went to the left and
followed the river along the foreshore to Bere Ferrers, where we caught the branch line train back to
Plymouth. Eddie hated this small train, it was older, very noisy and rumbling, clackety clack, not the
standard the little chap was used to! But it was a lovely ride back to Plymouth where we changed
onto the main line train at St Budeaux and headed for Bodmin and I could let my sleeping dog lie.

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