An Overbecks Stroll

Overbecks is a small National Trust  property at Sharpitor, overlooking Salcombe in the South Hams. The house is Edwardian with a surrounding garden of about seven acres. It is named after it’s last private owner, Otto Overbecks. The house has a small museum, a collection of rather bizarre objects, some of which I’ll try to show you in a few days. The drive down to Overbecks isn’t one that I’d bother with for the house, but the garden is a sub tropical delight, surrounded by woodlands. To get there take the A381 as far as the hill leading down into Salcombe, and then pray that you don’t meet any vehicles along the way. The road goes down steeply with sharp bends big gaps between passing places, cars parked anywhere they can, before it climbs back up around hairpin bends that give you white knuckles. This is coming from a Devon lass, who fearlessly drives narrow, winding lanes in the dark. Of course you might get lucky and not meet a soul! Parking is limited, but we were lucky, so we climbed the last quarter mile up the hill.

Where this view waited.

Through the imposing wooden gate.
ob2And the first of many lovely paths opened up.


But we won’t go down the steps to the lower garden yet, we’ve had a long drive and need some refreshments. This is the view from the café.

ob5I really wanted to sit in the conservatory.

ob4Can you see those legs stretched out between the plants? Well there were two very comfy seats, but every time I went past they were occupied, how rude!

ob6Let’s stretch our legs, gently of course, it’s too warm for dashing about.

ob10The planting is very exotic.

ob11Some lush bark for Meg.

ob12Something blue in the distance, but we’ll check that out later.

ob14I liked the look and feel of the stair rails.

ob15No I’m known for my wonky horizons, but honestly it wasn’t me, the silver pear trees were growing sideways.

ob20There’s one of several lawned areas up on the high garden. I failed to capture the true magenta colour of the gladioli’s, never mind, I can see it in my mind’s eye, and you can see how bright the sun was.

ovob21This lass is a lot more calm.

ob18Looking down over the wall there is a small, but very neat box garden.

ob24We walked on down to try to find it, but got waylaid in this sunroom.

ob25Surrounded by the banana garden.


which of course had Datura’s as well. I should make the effort to call them Brugmansia, but is doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely does it?


I could sit there all day, but there are lots more lovely plants to see, so off I stroll.


Up another flight of steps,


to the highest point and the best view.


Some more exotica on the way down for ice cream, Salcombe Dairy Honeycombe, it would be rude not to.


I still didn’t get to sit in here!


So it’s back down the lane, past the Acer glade.


I probably only strolled a mile and a half around Overbecks, but I think Jo would like it there and happily share the walk. If you come to Devon and like the idea of visiting Overbecks, I’d go on a weekday during school term, the last couple miles of road should be a lot easier.





Lanhydrock, a National Trust Stroll

Last Sunday afternoon I paid a flying visit to Lanhydrock, a National Trust property in Cornwall. Arriving just before 2.30 there wasn’t much time to linger, and after the bluebells, the grounds beckoned.
Down the long drive we go.
Here’s the gatehouse.
First look at the formal gardens, with the chapel in the background.
Part of the gatehouse door.
It’s raining so I’m going inside the house and I may take you one day, but for now you can see the view through some of the windows.

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After exploring the vast house full of treasures great and small, I resisted the gift shop. Luckily my friend didn’t, so there was fudge to share 🙂 and this door led to the courtyard.
Where an equally handsome door was firmly closed.

We head around the corner, where a very pristine garden waits.

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Which isn’t really my cup of tea, I prefer a far less structured, wild look, but I can still admire one occasionally. The rain is annoying now, the mizzely kind that while not heavy, get’s you very damp. We walk back through the gatehouse,


wishing for more time to explore the windy paths.


And back up the long drive to where we began, passing the bluebells growing on top of the banks, with late primroses at the bottom.


I’m sharing my Lanhydrock visit with Jo. She’s been travelling Europe for weeks, but I think she’s still walking for Mondays,

A lunchtime escape

A tolerable day at work is one when I can go out for some fresh air at lunchtime, without freezing or getting soaked. Last Wednesday was one of the very best for a stroll, the sun was shining, the morning had been dull and I needed some space.

Next door to the hospital where I work, is a psychiatric unit, around 150 years old and set in lovely grounds with original trees. If the ground is dry I often head that way, come along with me. We’ll begin beside the old lodge near the front gate.

It’s like a miniature gothic castle with its crenalations.
Here’s the back entrance. What can we find in the hedge?

I’m surrounded by birdsong, with a robin singing loudest. Look ahead, we’ll check out the trees.

The bluebells are guaranteed to help get rid of the morning’s stresses.


I zigzag from tree to tree, in and out of the hedge.


jw8These fir cones, like my feet, are rather large!


I would  have loved to climb this tree, it looks quite an easy one doesn’t it? The one behind on the left is quite special too,

Look at the chunky bark, it’s been around for a very long time.
On we go towards the perimeter of the grounds, where it’s a bit wilder, and someone’s had lunch already.
Time to curve across the lawn, my half hour is flying by.
But I still need to see that bright tree ahead.
Wow, such a fresh and glowing green!
I linger for a minute, enjoying the shadows, but my time really is up. Thanks to this stroll, the afternoon was manageable, two and a half hours until home time. I’m really lucky with the surroundings at work aren’t I? I hope you enjoyed walking with me, I’m sharing with Jo and looking forward to seeing where she walked.

The Day We’ve All Been Waiting For

The weather forecast was right, full sun all day today – yes this Brit is obsessed with the weather, it’s been a long, wet winter. A morning of housework gave me permission for an afternoon stroll, at Sidmouth. The town was busy but we found somewhere to park and a different entrance to the Byes.

I wonder how many times they've shared this bench
I wonder how many times they’ve shared this bench

Lots of blue sky and a tempting path.

Little peeps of colour
Little peeps of colour
Looking back at the first bridge
Looking back at the first bridge

Here’s Daisy, all excited and with a spring her tail.
bys6There’s been some storm damage in recent years,

bys7But plenty of new tree planting.

bys8We’ll walk beside the river Sid for a while.

bys9There are remains of a jetty.

bys10Benches everywhere to watch the world go by.

bys11Leaving the river, we’ll go up a gentle rise towards Golden Copse, bys12in Margaret’s Meadow.

bys13The sky became even bluer.

bys14We were surrounded by birds, but most were too high in the trees. Never mind this robin gave us a lovely solo performance.

Back down to the river where lots of families were enjoying the day.



That’s the Byes, I’ve taken you and Jo walking there before, but in the winter, I hoped you liked spring. The dog friendly café on the sea front was full today as were the car parks, so we headed home. I’ll show you where we made a quick stop tomorrow.

Did you go out for a walk this weekend? I hope you had sunshine as well.

Walking the Goat to the Bowling Green

Today I took the dogs for a favourite walk at Topsham, one of those places I never tire of, if you keep your eyes open there’s always something to see.

We started off by checking Vigilant’s progress, you may remember her?It’s a slow and expensive process but she’s looking healthier. 1420114202

We headed off down the Strand, a pretty street with the river to the right and houses of all shapes and sizes, some with a Dutch influence, to the left.

Some have gardens across the road that lead to the river, I love having a sneaky peep.
They can even grow Housetrees here!
The tide was right out today so the old girls and I scrambled down the steps at,
where Daisy just couldn’t resist the mud.
I pootled with Dido to see what we could find,

Stood on my toes to see into a garden,
where the sculpture seemed to mirror the pudding bushes – but I couldn’t photograph them because the wall was too high. So we walked on to the end of the road,

where the Goat Walk begins. There are benches all the way along, but the sun was hiding under the clouds so we didn’t linger today, except to listen to a young boy telling his little sister about the solar system and illustrating it in the sand.
I think that in days gone by there must have been a big estate behind the wall, with this gate to the path so that they could go goat strolling. There are several big, old houses across the fields.

We turn left and the end and leave the river behind for a few minutes.
Bowling Green Marsh is a nature reserve with an abundance of wildlife, and a rest stop for thousands of migratory birds. Let’s walk up this path,


Wildlife only on the left, but here’s the view.


Not too bad is it? If you have sharp eyes, you can see the train. If you’re ever down this way, check the tide is low and catch the train from Exeter to Exmouth, even Michael Portillo featured it recently on his Great Railway Journeys.

We’ll pop up to the viewing platform,


In case we lose our bearings this might help,


This is the point where the river Clyst flows into the Exe.

Exmouth is on the horizon. I went back to the main path and headed for the bird hide, as usual I forgot to bring binoculars, but  a kind RSPB volunteer let me use his to see some Snipe out on the mud. No photos, I only had my phone, but I doubt that my camera would have helped at this distance.


They are there though I promise, and the chanting was wonderful.


I’ll leave you with this last view, and walk up Bowling Green road to complete my circular walk by the railway bridge where I left my car.

I’m sharing with Jo, she’s probably feeling the chill this week!



Winter by the sea

I had a half day on Friday and was keen to see the sea, so Sidmouth it was. My friend and I found a free parking spot right on the sea front, and crossed the road to check out the waves.

IMG_2399_edited-aLooking west they were roaring and churning.

IMG_2403_edited-band to the east, just as rough and the distant cliffs of Lyme Bay were hidden in the sea mist.

IMG_2404_edited-cWe wandered down the slipway by the breakwater. The only shelter from the wind was up close to the wall.

IMG_2406_edited-dBut there was more to see on the pebbles, I liked the black and white one and was tempted to take it home, but didn’t.

IMG_2407_edited-eThe lifeboat man 😉 stood guard opposite the RNLI station, he’s been waiting there for a very long time.

IMG_2411_edited-fWe’ll come back and check the cliffs a bit later. For now we’re having a little respite from the wind, and heading for town.


This beautiful and traditional shop,  Mountstephen, has been trading since 1902, but way out of my price range.

Trumps, a grocers for two hundred years closed down in 2014. It’s very sad to see this once wonderful shop go the way of so many local food shops. They sold fabulous food, but couldn’t make it pay any longer. It’s a Grade 2 listed building, and it looks like the upstairs isn’t going to be converted into apartments.

IMG_2427_edited-lThe Square will be elbow to elbow with people in six months time, for the folk festival, but all is quiet on the last Friday in January.

IMG_2428_edited-mThe Anchor is a lovely pub, all year round and they host live music and even story telling during the festival.

IMG_2434_edited-nWe had hot chocolate and rich, buttery shortbread in a favourite seafront café, Mocha, and then tempted by a bit of blue sky, stepped across the esplanade.

I wonder if my eyes deceive me, surely no one would be kite surfing in that sea, but yes and he must be crazy!

IMG_2443_edited-pWe watched for a while and I must say I was glad to see him safely back on the beach (excuse the photo, my i phone can’t manage the distance).

IMG_2435_edited-oThe empty esplanade is waiting for summer, just as I am.

IMG_2446_edited-qFor now we’ll head into the sea mist, towards the cliffs.

IMG_2455_edited-sAt the end of the promenade the river Sid trickles into the sea, and it’s no longer safe to walk on that part of the beach, because of the frequent landslides that are eroding the sandstone.

IMG_2453_edited-rCan you see the pieces of wood dangling down from the clifftop? It’s the remains of a fence that was previously beside the south West Coast Path, at the bottom of someone’s garden. Lots of Britain’s coastline is being reclaimed by the sea, gradually washing away. Sidmouth could look very different in a few generations from now.

I hope you enjoyed Sidmouth even if it was grey and damp, I’ll take you again in summer.

I’m joining Jo for her Monday walk – if I’m in time, but if not this week maybe in a couple of weeks time!

Another Quay Perspective

I wasn’t intending to post for Jo’s Monday Walk this week, the skies have been so grey that my photos have been depressing! But then yesterday I grabbed a dry hour, took the dogs out, and the light turned out to be quite pretty. I had a lift to Colleton Crescent, from where I could drop down to the quayside, but first I went along to see the view.


If you can see the crescent from the quay the reverse should be possible I thought.

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Here’s the crescent, Georgian and built in 1800, it stands on a sandstone bluff over the Exe and was even painted by Turner in 1827. In 2013 one of these houses sold for nearly 1.5 million, so this is a crescent of privilege.


Time to head on downwards, I like the shapes in this photo, the right fork of water is the canal.


I like these little houses but they must get a lot of passers by.


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I’d usually walk across the wooden bridge but there were lots of swans gathered on it, someone was feeding them and besides terriers and swans don’t get on!
But that’s okay, we walked along Commercial road. This area used to be clubland when I was in my teens, and I haven’t walked that way for years. I’m glad I did because of these two gates.

Back along a footpath to the river and over the blue bridge.


Where the footpath up river is flooded.


The terrace is at the top of this photo and I was picked up again so my short walk is over.

A Boxing Day stroll

It was no good, the clouds would not lift today, so I either had to wallow at home with chocolate or go for some fresh but grey air. The fresh air won and the chocolate wasn’t going anywhere 😉 so a stroll in theTaddiforde Valley that runs along the university campus was the choice.

The campus is very quiet out of term and being Boxing Day the car parks were empty. We headed out from the lowest entrance, just off Prince of Wales road.


It’s a popular spot with local walkers, and in summer the odd student has been spotted relaxing on the grass.


Water is present throughout this short walk, the ponds through the valley were created in the 60’s and 70’s to look like natural watercourses, the ponds being fed from the Taddiforde  Brook. There are several varieties of water bird, but they heard Dido and Daisy coming and made themselves scarce.


The Gunnera have given up for this year, but usually this late in the year they would have totally died back.


We walk past a small stand of Silver Birch.


The path meanders gently upwards, it’s a place for slowing down and being mindful.


Sometimes the water rushes down in narrow gaps and sometimes it stagnates. In spring this area will be alive with tadpoles, frogs, toads and newts. The area is managed well to provide habitats for wildlife.


The girls would like to know who lives there.


We’ll cross this little bridge in a moment,


and look back the way we came.


Keeping our eyes open for little treasures.


Grand eucalyptus with leaves draping and bark shedding in harmony. Do you see the tree fern in the background?



The path swoops around, with lots of places for inquisitive dogs to disappear. uni16

The benches are a bit functional, but there are plenty and adequate for dog waiting!


It looks a bit murky, hope they didn’t jump in.


There’s some interesting growth.


I do like a good fungi.

uni17 I don’t know if this is a blue hydrangea losing it’s colour very slowly or a variety that I’ve never seen, but it was a subtle beauty.

We’re going back down towards the first pond now, the wind is gusting quite loudly in the trees, and judging by the bird activity, they’re battening down the hatches in preparation for a storm.

Exeter University is one of the top ten in the country, attracting students from all over the world.The campus and the valley is an arboretum and botanical garden, of some 300 acres, and described by the Independent as ‘sublime’.  There are around 21,000 students in a city with a population of just 125,000, sometimes it feels as if they are taking over. They are certainly contributing to housing shortages, especially affordable ones, and an increase in multiple occupancy properties that are landlord owned. I hope the students appreciate their surroundings and I’d like to see more local people enjoying the grounds. It’s a place where the woods and countryside meets the city, and part of Exeter Green Circle.

I’m sharing my Boxing Day walk with Jo, last Monday she was walking the Algarve hills, I wonder where she’ll be this week.


The Otter in August

A few miles east of my beloved Exe, lies the river Otter, in an area of outstanding natural beauty and an important resting place for migratory birds. The estuary is at Budleigh Salterton, another favourite place and the start of my stroll on the evening of August 3rd. Keeping the cricket field on your left, go through the kissing gate and the path is parallel to the river.

The sea is behind to us on the right just out of this photo.

You can just about make it out beside the red cliff.

The tide is on its way in.

Someone’s been busy!

Wading bird heaven, it’s a pity I’m too hopeless to capture them!

The path ahead.

With plenty of sloes in the hedge.
and a wonderful canopy of oak.

On the left side of the path, a ditch full of life is the boundary between the path and the marshy field.


I’ve always called this White Bridge, I’m not sure if that’s the actual name, but when my children were little it was the turning point of the walk for us. If you cross here, and turn right, back towards the sea, you will reach the south west coast path. I’ve walked a little bit of it there, but it’s a knee killer! Better to keep going, about two miles to the village of Otterton with it’s lovely mill and a nice pub. I remember starting at Budleigh one evening many years ago, walking the two and a half miles and having a nice pub meal. The problem was just because we set off on a sunny evening didn’t mean we’d return on one. We had to walk back in the dark. Beyond White Bridge the path is grass and uneven earth. There are no houses or lights to be seen and every so often a cow or three would loom out of the darkness over the fence. Our return walk was a lot faster than the pootle out!


This time we turned back.



Enjoyed the flora.


Aha, gotcha.


I knew there had to be birds somewhere. Otters have returned to the Otter, I think the dogs could smell them, they got excited a few times. Much as I’d like to see one I’d rather the dogs weren’t with me, if they chased after one they wouldn’t come off too well.


The light was changing quite quickly.


The estuary curves around the end of the pebble beach, beneath the red sandstone cliffs.


It’s nice when walks are circular, but here I like having the outwards and inward views of beautiful Devon. This is a walk I never tire of. all year round.
I’m sharing this with Jo but I think I’ve probably missed the boat, heyho never mind, there’s always another Monday. Happy walking wherever you are.

A City Stroll at Christmas

Exeter has gone to town on the Christmas lights, they look really pretty, so as two of the G-babies are staying we popped down to see them late yesterday afternoon.

We started near Bedford Square.


I knew there was a surprise for the children,

city3polar bears

The polar bears even let you share their space for a photo.


I had to make a quick stop at Carlucchio’s, just along here,


then we walked up the path beside the Roman wall , where every year local charities put up Christmas trees, stretching for about a hundred metres.


Around the corner at the top finds us at the end of the shopping centre, I love the lights projected on the wall.

I walked you down the mall a couple of weeks ago. So this time we went towards High Street past St Stephens.

And a last view of Waterbeer Street before we took the tired girls home!

I haven’t caught up with Jo since she returned form the sun, so I’m not sure if she’s walking this week.