A baby-sling hike to the winter wonderland of Ansteys Cove.
Bec’s has requested a walk to the seaside and having overdosed on Christmas food festivity, I’m more than happy to oblige. We’re off to the place we fell in love on our arrival in Torquay, Ansteys Cove.
The summer months present Ansteys Cove as a sun drenched, azure paradise so the transformation to it’s winter guise is astonishing. A fog hangs low in the naked tree tops, the path down is damp and the undergrowth frosty with Old Mans Beard. There’ll be no sun bathing today but it’s a mysterious, winter, wonderland and the walk is just what the Doctor ordered.
Burning the Christmas calories…
We are dressed for the Arctic, Huey too and as we set off over Stoodley Knowle park I’m convinced this chilly hike will undo the excess food damage. I can’t have done too badly this year anyway I’m thinking? I reason that you need the actual Christmas dinner to live, so it’s only the deserts and snacks that are the waist-line offenders, so let’s take a look at those?
Yule tide Log………………………………………………..670
Mince pies and cream (x6)…………………………..2862
Banoffee pie (x2)…………………………………………1340
Chocolate assorted, 1kg…………………………………5000
Crisps, nuts and savouries……………………………..1500, (this one’s a guess)
Cheese and biscuits (x3 sit-downs)………………..1620
Like I said, not done too badly this year!
You’ll probably not have a calculator to hand as you read this so I will tell you now, that lot totals 15’000 calories!!! All consumed over a 5 day period.
Consulting the list and making some adjustments due to cold, severity of hike and weight carried I suspect we are burning 500 calories per hour. With no further math’ required I realise with horror that I’ve maybe not, ‘done alright this Christmas’.
15’000 / 500 calories equals 30 hours of Huey hiking (90 miles!), just to break even. On todays hike we manage about an hour and a half, so that’s the Banoffee pie burnt off…
Just in time for New Years Eve indulgence!!!
Happy 2017 reader; Ollie, Becs and Huey.
New years resolution…quality over quantity on the Chocolate. What’s yours?
Torquay greets Christmas season tourists by the bus load and Huey creates a fan club…
I have to admit, I’d never heard the expression ‘Tinsel and Turkey’, till now. When I do, and the penny drops as to its meaning I find myself laughing out loud. Torquay already has a reputation for entertaining Hen and Stag Do’s and now at Christmas it seems my new home town will be welcoming glutinous hordes looking to drink and eat their own body weight, (it’s all inclusive!) all whilst wearing a Santa hat.
If I thought there was no more to Torquay than that I’d not be here. I will put forward my case for Torquay elsewhere, however, I will say that I’m actually glad that this town is not completely behaved, not entirely gentrified. Hangovers and sunburns aside, there’s a lot of people who come here to let their hair down and just have a good time…and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Point in case today at the Hotel Balmoral. We are here to see Bec’s folks who have come down to see us, (uhum, their grandson!). Whilst the gang gets ready for a walk into town I sit in the reception and find myself in conversation with one of the Balmoral’s patrons. We strike up some easy small talk; where are you from, who are you with etc. I find that she is here with friends, family and work colleagues…I stop fiddling with the glass chess board to give the conversation more attention.
‘Whats the common connection here?’ I ask. The answer it seems is tradition. This group of friends, connected by family, work and associated friends have been doing this for a whopping 15 years! As we chat they start to appear; tinsel eyed and looking for turkey. They are a really happy bunch all sharing introductions, Huey somewhere in the middle and the hotel reception completely overtaken.
Leaving Huey with happy grandparents we all say our goodbyes, not knowing that we’d meet a second and third time during their stay. The second time was at evening dinner in the Balmoral; Santa hats in full effect, (in fact as we entered the dining room not a single dinner was without one), then the third time today at Meadfoot Beach.
It was my suggestion that they come down here, (it’s a stones throw from the Balmoral, you’d be mad not too). However the wind chill is spiteful so I hope they didn’t regret it. We meet by chance at the Ice Cream van which masquerades as a hot drinks outlet during the winter months. There are smiles, waves and stories exchanged as we meet up. Despite the winter weather the atmosphere is warm and cheered with a cup of hot chocolate.
Meadfoot is a transformed beast from the summer. Right now it’s bitterly cold, the force of the sea against the wall has hurled great waves and stones over into the road. Nobody is bothered though. It’s bracing but restorative and dramatic. Huey, as ever, also completely un-phased by the elements. He sports multiple layers and a built-in buggy sleeping bag…and if that wasn’t enough, now here’s his adoring fan club of ladies! No wonder he smiles.
Turkey, Tinsel and Torquay. I hope our new friends from Stroud keep their Christmas vacation alive for decades to come. Stay in touch if you read this ladies; maybe we’ll bump into you next year.
Wild swim at Agatha Christie’s favourite spot for a dip.
It would be fair to say I am not a morning person, so my alarm going off at 7am on a Sunday is a rude awakening to say the least. My motivation for this madness is a swim, a swim at Elberry Cove near Brixham.
Todays swim is no solo adventure, I’m off to join new, new friends from the Devon Wild Swimming (facebook) group. I am myself a newbie to this group who have kindly taken me on in the last few months, sharing smiles, swims and cake in a number of outdoor swims locally. This particular swim was organised by yours truly and has attracted 3 new members to the group, so I’m feeling the pressure not just to turn up, but to turn up on time.
I’ve chosen Elberry Cove for the swim as it’s supposed to have ideal calm, clear waters and it’s been on my visit / swim list for a while. Elberry has a derelict Victorian bathouse at one end which neatly punctuates sweeping, shingle beach. This has had me intrigued for sometime as I’m keen on investigating ‘old bust stuff’. As well as Lord Churston (who commissioned the bathouse), this was also favourite swim spot of Agatha Christie! Clearly, Elberry has swimming pedigree.
woodland walk to the sea
midday walkers enjoy the autumn sun
swimmer returns to shore
shingle cobble beach at Elberry
3 new swim friends
Elberry is backed by farmland and on foot is only reached by the S.W Coast Path. The nearest car park is around the headland at Broadsands, however I’m not going there. I’m chasing a postcode for a free parking spot that also has access to the cove, that I finally manage to find with a little help from a morning dog-walker.
The swim-hike takes you down through deciduous woodland to the sea. As I wander off, the tree canopy thickens and I have no real sense of direction, just hoping that I’m headed in the right way. After a brisk 10 minute walk I suddenly come out of the trees and the panorama of Elberry opens in front of me. As far as swimming goes, the sight in front of me couldn’t be better. It’s October 16th but there is warmth in the sun, the sea is utterly flat, and there is no wind at all, not a whisper.
As I’m taking all this in I realise that there are swimmers already in the water, so my appreciation is cut short as I de-robe in the woodland to get my wetsuit on. Kit back on, I’m heading down the shingle as fast as possible and I’m in… The temperature of the water would have allowed a ‘skins’ swim (without wetsuit), but the suit helps facilitate a longer swim with comfort and that’s what I’m hoping for here today.
I swim out to join my new friends and bobbing in the blue we all make introductions. Of the 3 ladies I greet none of them have swum properly in the sea before and they are all swimming skins putting me to shame! There is a great camaraderie to this moment; a group of people unknown to each other, loosely connected by a facebook group, meeting in the water at this remote spot. None of this is lost on the group and its smiles all round as we chat and swim bathed in glorious autumn sunshine.
Having been in the water for 20 minutes already, it’s not long before my new friends head back to the shore. We say our goodbyes and they head off having made plans to meet again. My swim is now solo and I head off to the shady part of the bay to explore…
The coastline here is completely uncivilised. There’s nowhere easily to get ashore as its littered with broken trees that grow right up against the shore. As I make my way further along the headland the blue water is replaced by a colder, deeper swell that changes the mood entirely. Sat out on a long, broken branch is a huge seabird that I believe is a Cormorant. As I approach I realise just how big it is and now in this dark shoreline I feel like I’ve swum into Jurassic Park the bird ahead being a Pterodactyl. Prehistoric or not, eventually I swim too close for comfort and the great bird opens its wings and slopes lazily off across the water.
Heading back I realise I have company as coming into the water is a swimmer I’ve met previously. We chat and share our good fortunes but now its my time to say my goodbyes, my trusty cheap Casio tells me I’ve been in nearly 50 minutes and that’s enough for me.
The advice following a swim would be to change quickly and wrap up warm, however as I peel away my suit the warmth of the sun is still there, enough to remain half-dressed for a few minutes basking…the warmth is truly exceptional for the time of year.
Lord Churston’s Bathouse
blair witch bathouse
bars behind the windows
Elberry from the bathouse
only one way?
Lord Churstons’s Bathouse
Dressed and warm, I head off to explore the Victorian ruin. This is a bit of an eerie building, it was built to last and has a fortified feel to it. The main windows have been clad with bars but you can still get up close and peer inside. The walls have odd graffiti that are more ‘blair witch’ than street art, and the front has an ominous ‘one way’ instruction for what I can only assume is meant for sea craft.
When I return from explorer mode i realise the beach has been populated with people and dogs. It’s nearly midday and those that love the coast but prefer getting out of bed at a civilised time are here. It’s time for me to go. I take a few snaps, smile and head back into the woods to update the gang on my fab’ morning.
Free parking Elberry Cove!
To get here you’ll need to head for Broadsand Beach then take a right into the residential, Brunel Road.
Postcode TQ46HY will get you where you need to go. Once safely parked, head for the very end of the cul-de-sac on foot, looking for the public footpath access between houses on the left hand side.