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Torcross to Dartmouth

We made an early start and drove out to the village of Torcross for the next section of our walk. After paying a ridiculous £5.50 to park at the beach and getting some worried looks from passers-by as I was wearing my shemagh to keep the sun off my neck, we set off across the terrifically named Slapton Sands. 3500 civilians were moved out of their homes and farms during the Second World War so the area could be used to practice the D-Day landings. Unfortunately, the training went very wrong, hundreds died, and it was all covered up by the US military.

It was already quite hot, and fishing boats were motoring close to the shore, checking out the talent on the nudist part of the beach. The path climbed up the cliffs, and soon we found ourselves on the newest section of the footpath; rather than follow the main road, it takes a long, new, wooden footbridge across a stream then continues through fields, with a fantastic view along the coast. The association seems very proud of this new stretch they've managed to acquire, and impressive as it is, it was a bit overdeveloped for me, looking more like a disabled-friendly forest walk than a rural footpath - but then I think trekking should be about wading through shoulder deep water with your pack above your head!

This was one of the few sections where we passed other people walking - even though it was a weekend in July, it seemed as though hardly anyone was using the longest footpath in Britain. We continued on past Blackpool Beach - not the famous Blackpool, but still as busy, then we were back on our own, walking through the fields. As we began to approach Dartmouth, the waters were getting busier and busier with sailing boats, but most of the lovely anchorages we were passing were empty as most people were so busy sailing. We rounded Blackstone Point, passing some overprotective parents who were forcing their children to wear lifejackets for playing on the rocks, and Dartmouth Castle came into view.

From there the scenery became more built up, and we passed stunning homes with private jetties and boathouses next to the River Dart. Everything about Dartmouth screams of yachties, and the town is dominated by Dartmouth Naval College, overlooking the estuary. It's a pretty town, but smaller than I'd expected it to be, and soon we'd walked around the centre and decided to head back to the van at our starting point.

Our plan was to spend the night stealth camping in the van (which is fully fitted out for living in, but appears to be a normal Mercedes van to the untrained eye), then continue walking the next day. We drove down some lanes that were more hedge than road and, eventually, found the lovely village of Beesands, where we parked at the beach, had a pint in the pub, and spent a lovely night right next to the sea.

Satellite view of walk (nearly)

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