Saturday November 23rd 1957.

Around Dawlish

We collected at St. David's Station at 10:45 a.m. and booked cheap day tickets to Dawlish. Pat and Ian almost missed the train, arriving at the very last moment. The train left at 10:55 a.m. and half an hour later we were in sun-bathed Dawlish. The town was looking very pretty and very clean and we decided to spend half an hour there in the shops and having coffee. I particularly wanted to buy a copy of the book called "Rambles around Dawlish" which I had seen last Summer and so a party of us set out in search of it. I was told in the branch of W H Smith that it was only available in the information bureau. We found that this had moved to the far end of the Parade. However, we eventually found it and after a while one of the residents came along and unlocked the office and sold me a copy for 9 old pence. It was such a fine day that I decided to buy a colour film for my camera. We found a nice cafe and ordered coffee. I began to load the film and after a while David came in with Margaret and Ken. We talked over possible routes for the day. Returning to the rendezvous beside the railway bridge on the seafront, we found that the party had assembled and were ready to set out.

In bright sunlight we made our way along Brunel's wall which shields the railway from the heavy seas. The stack at Dawlish Warren came into view and we made our way over the wall into the caves there with their spectacular red arches providing excellent opportunities for photographs. It was decided that we should have lunch on the granite boulders at Dawlish Warren. The sun was very warm and pleasant.

Making our way north through the town we turned left towards Shutterton along a small, quiet road. Joining up with the main road we found that the road opposite, which was marked on our maps, did not in fact exist. So we had to continue along the main road for about a quarter of a mile then turned left and continued up towards Mamhead. We caught a glimpse of the Obelisk and wondered at some of the strange plants hereabouts. Reaching a crossroads again we went straight ahead down a very narrow lane. There were fine views of farms and the surrounding countryside from here and ultimately we went down a very steep hill into Ashcombe. Ashcombe lies in a steep sided valley and so we had to climb out the other side through the woods to the main road. This took as to the top of Little Haldon where we stayed for a long time admiring the spectacular views of Dartmoor ahead. Turning left we started on the road back to Dawlish. Behind us there was a beautiful sunset which bathed the town in an orange glow. We finally arrived back in Dawlish and reluctantly made our way to the seafront station to wait for the next train home to Exeter. The ride along the shore and the estuary in the setting sun was very spectacular.

This was just one of those perfect idyllic Devon days. Dawlish shone like a precious jewel and I hope that it still looks the same today. I hope that a branch of WH Smith still exists there. So many places have lost them now.

The search for the little booklet is interesting because it shows that we took delight in purchasing small, inexpensive but useful items. We did not have a lot of money in those days. We never felt poor but we were careful about what we spent our money on. Getting into any form of debt would have been unthinkable. When I read about this incident in the Journal, I immediately began a search to see if I still had the Dawlish booklet. Turning out boxes in the attic produced other things but not this. I then explored the least likely place i.e.the book case in the living room - and there it was. It tells us inside that the name of the pretty girl on the front cover is Angela Barrow.

If ever I am fortunate enough to be in Dawlish again, I will go straight to the information bureau to ask for the latest edition. With luck Angela Barrow will still be on the front cover.

The missing road did not cause us a lot of concern. We were all well aware that the ordnance survey maps which we were using had not been revised since the 1930s. During the war many roads along this coast had been closed down by the military and some of them had never been reopened. This was just one of the hazards encountered whilst walking in the Devon countryside at that time.

This was one of the last walks of the Michaelmas term but the day was more like a Summer day. Places on the Devon Coast have a mild winter climate but, by any standards, Dawlish was exceptional on that day. For the rest of the Term darkness would come rather soon in the afternoons making walks more difficult. The streets in Exeter would be lit up with the Christmas lights in the early afternoon. The solution, of course, would have been to start out earlier in the mornings but there was never any enthusiasm for the suggestion whenever I made it. Saturday was regarded as a rest day and early rising could never be part of that. Nowadays most students use Saturdays as their shopping day and Sunday is the leisure day. But in the 1950s organising walks on Sundays never even crossed our minds. It would have been regarded as sinful in the extreme. Times have definitely changed! Even I sometimes go walking on the moor on Sundays now. I am glad that Pat and Ian caught the train. This was definitely not a day to be missed.

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