Sandy, sheltered, great for swimming and facilities nearby; it was just what we needed following our adventures to Gara. The National Trust has a car park right at the back of the beach, so no beach-hike today with all the baby kit.
During breakfast, we ran the days plans by our hosts Mo and Andy of the Welle House B & B. ‘That National Trust car park is £7.50, but you can park in a field on the hill for £2.00!’ I looked at Bec’s but already knew the answer; we’d be parking in the farmers field and walking down to Mill Bay. To be honest I was already warming to the idea. We’d save a Fiver and get to walk more of the fantastic South West Coastal Path.
The car park was indeed £2.00 (payable by the nice little metal honesty box), but it certainly wasn’t the ‘ten minute walk’, we’d been informed to Mill Bay. Twenty five, thirty minutes maybe; it didn’t matter though. The walk provided more stunning landscape scenery mixed with patches of wild woodland, the pathway lined with ferns living happily in the dappled shade. Huey was paying no attention to the additional journey time, being fast asleep in the sling.
Mill Bay turned out to be a lovely spot, certainly family friendly but not so busy the day we arrived. I suspect this is often the case as it’s the opposite side of the estuary to Salcombe and the very popular South Sands. The people that were there, were camped up on the North side of the beach to avoid the wind / sand storm blowing down the estuary!
I was hoping to get some good swimming in here today and I wasn’t disappointed. The water was fantastically clear and the estuary location provided the shelter that makes this a great, safe swim spot. Having said that, there is a lot of traffic in the river so you’d be well advised to stay within the buoys. I swam from buoy to buoy taking in the length of the beach and luxuriating in the warmth of a wetsuit that was truly surplus to requirements on a day like this…
Back at Baxter things were also going swimmingly. Huey was loving his state of undress and despite a blanket had somehow managed to get sand into, well, everything. It was time for me to take over.
In the water with a wetsuit was positively warm, on the beach in the afternoon sun I was practically boiling and in half an hour I suspect I’d sweated my own body weight entertaining Huey. We needed those beach facilities fast. It seemed however that I’d made something of an error. The cafe is located at East Portlemouth beach (ten minutes up the road), not at Mill Bay.
So we had a choice; go for lunch then make our way back up the hill, or decamp now and get lunch at the Gara Rock Cafe at the top. We chose the latter. The cafe thoughtfully puts out Pitchers of water for weary travellers, of which we were three. On arrival we guzzled back water like we’d just returned from a Saharan military exercise leaving me to wonder if other peoples beach outings end up this way?? I had to remind myself that If we wanted to add a sense of adventure to the day then this was the trade off. Was it worth it? Today, most certainly yes.