Ever since taking the train down the coast from Exeter in 2017, it has been my wish to hike a part of the Jurassic Coast. I had planned to hike the path in 2020 with a friend, but then COVID came and instead I hiked the ViaRhenana. The idea never left my mind, and when I had the chance to do it this summer, I pulled out the itinerary I had set up 3 years ago, made a few adjustments, and booked my flight.
I purposely booked myself a window seat to be sure that I was able to enjoy the flight into London. Despite the hazy weather, I was able to spy famous buildings and bridges. From the airport, I took the train to Paddington Station and from there the train out to Exmouth.
The weather was sunny and warm, and I spent the rest of the day walking along the beach in Exmouth and then finding a shaded spot on the beach to read.
The next morning I was up at the crack of dawn. Due to the one hour time difference and being further north, it started getting light at 4 in the morning. Right after breakfast, I strapped on my backpack and headed east to the far end of Exmouth and the beginning of the Jurassic Coastal Path.
The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site and geologically extremely interesting, documenting 185 million years of geological history. It is constantly in motion and crumbles often. The path isn’t along the beach, but rather up on the cliff. What at first sounds like a simple and flat walk, is actually strenuous. Every time a river flows to the sea, the path winds down to the beach and on the other side up again. I was constantly hiking down and back up again. I’m glad I started early every day to avoid the mid-day heat as much as possible, and still it was a hot and sticky 12.5 mile / 20 km hike.
The path is beautiful and full of wildflowers, blackberries and butterflies. I was surprised to see a lot of people on their morning walks with their dogs and several people hiking the path as a day hike, but I never came across anyone hiking the path for several days.
I stopped in Budleigh Salterton for lunch, eating a simple lunch of cheddar cheese, a bread roll and an apple. Then I continued along the path to Sidmouth.
Shortly before reaching Sidmouth, the fog started rolling in, and I worried this would be the end of the good weather. But my luck held and the fog burned off. After checking into my room, I quickly changed into my swimsuit and headed down to the pebbly beach. An interesting fact is, the pebbles are larger to the west. The further east one hikes, the smaller the pebbles become. It is said that smugglers along the coast were able to tell which beach they were on by picking up a handful of pebbles. The water was chilly but extremely refreshing after a hot day of hiking.
After a pub dinner of crab cakes, chips and ale, I settled in for the night before waking up again early for my second day of hiking.
Where to stay: