The glorious coastline of Exmouth
We’ve come this way to support a family member with severe Parkinsons, a sad scenario eased somewhat by the chance to explore the neighbouring Jurassic coastline.
A footpath threads its way along the top of the red sandstone cliffs to the east which within them contain a potted history of our planet.
So special is this region, in fact, that it was the first natural WHS to be declared in England.
On an afternoon climb I paused beside a stone Geoneedle whose design symbolises the earth’s story and how it has been transformed from some 250 million years ago.
This monument was unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 2002.
The whole walk along to Sandy Bay, a popular holiday resort, was an absolute pleasure.
Stone tablets set in the ground provided snippets about wildlife, challenging you to keep your eyes and ears open on your stroll.
I failed to find any green-winged orchids or spot a kestrel hovering but did come across a bloody nosed beetle and heard the call of a stonechat.
Fishing boats were out on the water and closer inshore a group of youngsters were being taught the skills of kayaking.
It wasn’t half-term – at least, not in Norfolk or Devon – but there were plenty of families making sand-castles and paddling.
Exmouth is somewhere I’ve got to know in recent years. It’s certainly bigger than Fakenham but probably not as big as Lynn.
The promenade extends for the best part of two miles and this flat surface has become an integral part of the local fitness regime.
There’s a lane for cyclists and space for runners and walkers, plenty of whom organise their own circuits up and down.
What especially amazed me was the sight of young mums at the double, holding on to their pushchairs with both hands and bowling along at a healthy clip.
The only other place I’ve ever witnessed something similar was in Sydney a couple of years ago.
As with most seaside towns there’s an RNLI station always at the ready, often required to deal with people cut off by the tide.
This immediately made me think of Wells.
It’s remarkable to realise that this vital service which saves so many lives is almost entirely funded from voluntary donations.
We may have our share of benches inscribed with dedications to people who ‘loved this town’ or ‘spent many happy times here’ but I must say that Exmouth really takes the biscuit on this score.
Of course it has the advantage of a lengthy sea front and cliff tops but there are literally dozens of benches along the prom and on the heights.
Joe Diver was ‘a kind and caring man’, Frank Seward, ex Royal Navy, ‘so loved the sea’ and Connie, ‘once met – never forgotten’.
Such a warm and endurable form of remembrance. So nice was the weather during our short stay that we even braved the cold Atlantic.
Next stop is mid-Wales and a familiar farmhouse surrounded by familiar hills.
Our sheep farming hosts will soon be retiring to nearby Newtown so after nearly 20 years this will be the final curtain.
I’ll keep you posted.