By this time of year I would normally expect to be posting on here about walks on Dartmoor in wintry conditions. However with a rare exception this winter has simply been wet and it hasn’t really been worth heading onto the moors just to trudge through water. The storms that the West Country and indeed most of the country have experienced this year have been truly exceptional. It is now being stated that this has been the wettest winter since records began. The flooding in Somerset started over Christmas and persists; the politicians seemed to have felt it wasn’t that important until land nearer them started to flood. In addition to the rain there have been very high winds coupled at times with storm surges and one of these events destroyed part of the railway line at Dawlish recently. As I’d been in Lancashire at the time I’d only seen the coverage on television and decided I’d like to take a look for myself.
I assumed that access to the beach would be restricted given the level of destruction I’d seen and the work that would obviously be required to repair the railway line. The view above gives some idea of the work going on however the main area of destruction is just past the station which can be seen almost in the centre of the picture. Beyond that on the edge of the sea you can just about make out the shipping containers that were placed there and filled with rocks to try and prevent further damage – these containers have already been badly damaged by the sea in further storms.
In practice there is no access from Dawlish to the actual sea at present. I headed west of the town to take a track that goes over the railway tunnel here in the hope I would be able to walk back to the town however the route is blocked and there are obvious signs of damage of beach huts and the like here.
I decided to head for Dawlish Warren, to the east of Dawlish, to see if I could get any access from that end of the beach. The railway runs on the top of the line of boulders, part of the sea defences, that can be seen above. However the coast path which runs on the seaward side of the railway line is also shut from this side. I guess the level of work being carried out might be seen as dangerous to the public at large. You can just make out an orange crane at work on this end of the line.
It was half term and really quite a nice morning (although the rain started in the early part of the afternoon again). There were quite a few people making the most of the rare fine weather on the beach. Hopefully better weather will be with us all soon allowing the floods to clear and, if I’m lucky, I’ll get back to some regular walking again.