SWCP hard: The Exe Estuary

Back in September I got a teeny-tiny taste of what it’s like doing the SWCP hard.

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What is SWCP hard, I hear you ask? Well, there are some people out there who do the South West Coast Path the hard way. They don’t take ferries across the estuaries, and just keep hiking until they find a bridge or a path around them. Considering the official South West Coast Path is already 630 miles (or 1,014 km) long, that is a seriously impressive feat!

Have no fear, there is absolutely NO NEED to do the estuaries as well, and you won’t find these routes in Paddy’s guide book to the South West Coast Path!

SWCP hard

I don’t know if anyone else actually calls it SWCP hard, but that’s how I always think of it. You know, like 75 hard? IYKYK. Not that I would really recommend attempting that feat, either.

I didn’t actually avoid ferries on this hike, though. In order to get to the Exe Estuary, around it, and then back to my starting point, I took the train from Exmouth to Topsham, hiked up to Exeter and back down the other side of the River Exe to Starcross, and from there I caught the ferry back to Exmouth, where I had left my car.

It was on the SWCP hard hike I learned that bumblebees sleep
It was on this hike I learned that male bumblebees sleep alone… 🥰

A note on logistics

There are also two ferries that run out of Topsham. One goes between Topsham and The Turf, and the other between Topsham and Topsham Lock. Time tables are affected by tide times, weather and season. Make sure you check first that the ferry you are planning to take is indeed running!

You can also take the train, if you prefer. The Avocet Line on the eastern side of the Exe Estuary links up with the Riviera Line on the western side, so you won’t even have to change trains in Exeter.

Better late than never, right?

I posted the video below on YouTube in September, but totally forgot to share it here on my blog. Duhhh. So here it finally is! Better late than never, right?

If you would like to watch me get seriously lost (and very muddy – and quite stroppy!) in the Exe Estuary somewhere between Topsham and Exeter, then all you have to do is press play! 😂
Note to self: Never trust Google Maps blindly!

So there you have it! Apparently the alternative to getting lost in the bush on your way out of Topsham is to follow the roads. I clearly should have turned right somewhere, but I still don’t know exactly where. 😂

Anyway, it was a fabulous hike, and fortunately quite misty, so not as hot as forecast! And it was a very satisfying moment when I was able to connect all the ‘dots’ on my South West Coast Path map and draw a solid line around the entire Exe Estuary!

PS: Click here to check out my other hikes along the South West Coast Path!