The tourists have largely gone, which makes exploring Devon at this time of year a whole lot easier. Yet “this time of year” doesn’t feel like the first week of October. Much of the UK has been enjoying the Indian Summer, but nowhere else has quite the same views as those in Start Bay on the South Coast.
The last time I came here, in the height of the summer season, you couldn’t move for tourists. In fact, in Torcross, you could hardly move at all because of the long queues of traffic trying to squeeze into that last space in the car park. Just around the coast – yet a good 40 minutes negotiating perilous back lanes – is the stunning Start Point.
There are a good dozen cars parked up, yet the entire stretch of coastline seems completely deserted. It’s one of the best things about being in this part of the world right at the end of the season. The October sunshine contrasts brilliantly with the colours of Autumn streaming down the cliff. Best of all, the hut in the privately owned car park is locked up (seasonal charge : £4.50).
From Torcross itself there’s a walk along one of Devon’s largest natural stretches of open freshwater. Slapton Ley’s nature reserve attracts a rich mix of wildlife. And by the beach, there’s another collection of rarities.
This particular Mini Owner’s Club come from Tiverton in mid-Devon, and one of the drivers describes today’s gathering as “our final chance for a good run out before winter sets in.”
With temperatures today hitting a balmy 17 Celsius, the concept of winter seems a long way off. But the forecast for this week shows some wet and windy conditions to come.